On October 13th, longtime Pokey LaFarge sideman Ryan Koenig will take his long-anticipated step onto the center stage with the release of his debut album, Two Different Worlds, via St. Louis label Big Muddy Records.
With powerfully emotive vocal performances backed by lush and intricately woven arrangements, the album's tracks tell stories of real people and real places, but are mixed with components of fantasy--and they are anything but predictable. Though the music itself is steeped in an old tradition, Koenig is not after nostalgia. The instrumentation places the songs in a modern context and the songs were written with a very real awareness of the present time; Koenig reflects upon gentrification, mortality and the dichotomy of romance and violence, which are interspersed throughout classic country tales of heartbreak and longing. Two Different Worlds is tastefully layered with some of the strongest musical voices in roots music that Missouri has to offer, with contributions from John Horton (The Bottle Rockets), Gary Hunt, Jr. (Son Volt), various members of Pokey LaFarge’s backing band, and a host of Big Muddy Records regulars including Jack Grelle and Koenig’s wife, Kellie Everett (The Hooten Hallers). This multitude of talent coalesces into a colorful palette that brings his rich and textured vision of country music to life.
Koenig’s journey with music began in basements across the midwest as the singer and guitar player for garage-punk group The Vultures. Twelve years later, the charming spotlight-stealer, affectionately known to Pokey LaFarge's expansive fanbase as "Cowboy Ryan," is internationally known--from wielding searing harmonica solos in LaFarge’s band, to backing Jack White on his Grammy-nominated album Blunderbuss, to achieving hometown-hero status with solo work and membership in impeccable St. Louis blues/roots group Rum Drum Ramblers, Koenig's star power potential is undeniable.
Ryan Koenig is inseparable from his music; though his songs are an exaggerated scrapbook of his life, which has been enriched through his travels in Pokey LaFarge’s band, Two Different Worlds points to a new horizon, one where Koenig is front and center sharing his explosively musical worldview.