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Shuffle: Ryan Humbert's The Shootouts Deliver '100-Proof' Country

Ryan Humbert (center) and his band The Shootouts release their first album, "Quick Draw," May 10
Ryan Humbert (center) and his band The Shootouts release their first album, "Quick Draw," May 10

Longtime Northeast Ohio singer-songwriter Ryan Humbert is releasing his first album with his new honky-tonk band, The Shootouts. The five-piece group releases "Quick Draw" on Friday. 

Finding his honky-tonk sound

Humbert has been a singer-songwriter in Northeast Ohio for more than 15 years, writing and performing pop-rock songs. But he said classic country has always been in his blood.

"My grandpa and I would play country songs in the basement when I first started playing guitar. When I was a kid, my mom would drive around listening to country radio. It was in the '90s when you could still hear amazing country on the radio, like George Strait and Dwight Yoakam and Patty Loveless. I would say that there are people who still like their country music 100-proof."

In 2015, Humbert lauched Shooter Sharp & the Shootouts as a side project. He and bandmate Brian Poston had an idea to go out one night and perform some of the classic country songs that they loved. 

"It took over a year for us to actually get around to doing it, and when we started The Shootouts, it just felt right," Humbert said. 

A long 18 months

In addition to Humbert and Poston, the band includes Ryan McDermott (bass), Dylan Gomez (drums, percussion) and Emily Bates (harmony vocals). "Quick Draw" has 13 songs, nine of which are written by either Humbert or another member of the band. It was recorded in six days at The Bunker Studio in Brooklyn, New York.

"We couldn't go make a record like this where you build it from the ground up. We wanted to do it as a band, so we recorded a good portion of it in the studio together."

While the album was recorded quickly in the studio, he says it was 18 months in the works. 

"We knew we wanted to do something bigger with this project and we knew that if we focused really on putting some time and effort into it and putting together a team of people that could really help us do what we wanted to do with it, that it would really pay off in the long run."

The band signed with MRI Entertainment/MegaForce records out of New York, which has a division that works with classic country/honky tonk bands and artists.  The band also has a team of publicists, radio reps, management and video production crews.    

California to Ohio

A highlight on the album is "California to Ohio," a song Humbert wrote with Nashville songwriter Kim Richey. He says it's based on a true story.

"In February of 1953, my grandpa, Cpl. Ron Humbert, was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California as a marine. He took a 10-day leave and hitchhiked from Camp Pendleton all the way back to Hartville, Ohio. Luckily, my grandpa got to hear that song before he passed away. We sang it at his 85th birthday party, and he and my grandma danced to it." 

Finding his passion

Humbert says his new band feels like home.

"Sometimes it takes people a little time to figure out exactly what they're supposed to be doing. Life can change in an instant. You never what's going to happen. I found that out the hard way over the last couple of years, losing my mom and my grandpa. We have one chance to do what we want on this planet, and if there's something you're passionate about, go out there and do it."

The Shootouts play a "Quick Draw" album release show Friday, May 10, at the Music Box in Cleveland

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Amanda Rabinowitz
Amanda Rabinowitz has been a reporter, host and producer at WKSU since 2007. Her days begin before the sun comes up as the local anchor for NPR’s Morning Edition, which airs on WKSU each weekday from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. In addition to providing local news and weather, she interviews the Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto for a weekly commentary about Northeast Ohio’s sports scene.