All Photos by Sean Jamar
It was a cold and windy night in New York City, but Stage 3 at Rockwood Music Hall was warm and cozy, filled with family, friends and fans who, despite the inclement weather, had turned up for the sonic warmth created by singer/songwriter Ryan Hobler. They all made the arctic journey to celebrate the release of Hobler’s new album, The Elusive Yes.
Hobler opened with a Daniel Johnston cover, “True Love Will Find You In The End,” and followed with his own “Got A Ways To Go,” “I Have Love, I Have You” and “All Along.” The room collectively swayed and tapped their feet to these upbeat tunes. Hobler and his brother Kieran engaged in humorous exchanges with the audience while he tuned his guitar, after which the band effortlessly transitioned into a more mellow portion of the set highlighted by songs such as “I Fell Deep” and “The Boulder & the Glass House.” Hobler’s voice draws you in. Along with the subtlety of the background singers and the superb instrumentation of the musicians, I easily forgot about apocalyptic conditions that awaited me just outside of the doors.
At that point, Hobler began a solo set with the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows.” After performing “No Knowin,” Publicist Michael Del Priore then joined Hobler on stage for a duet of the Grateful Dead‘s “Jack-a-Roe.” After Del Priore sang the line, “This couple they got married, so why not you and me, oh why not you and me,” he hopped off the stage, dropped to one knee and proposed to his girlfriend. A beautiful moment that was just as surprising to Del Priore’s girlfriend as it was for the entire audience—it was made all the better when she said “YES!”
The band rejoined Hobler on stage for the final run of songs, which included two of my favorites, “Near You” and “See What You’re Doing to Me.” Recorded, Hobler’s songs are perfect for that summer Sunday drive to nowhere. But hearing Hobler live was the perfect, chilly weeknight escape. Lucky New Englanders will have that chance soon, as Hobler and his team are currently putting together a tour for the Memorial Day weekend. Stay tuned for show dates and times. It’s worth it!
– Sean Jamar