Singer and songwriter Ryan Vosika's background includes heading up three- or four-piece rock bands in Portland and Los Angeles. Influenced by such classic groups as Led Zeppelin and Cream, he likes loud, guitar-driven sound.
While Vosika settled down in Jacksonville over the past year, however, his Marshall half-stack — think large, iconic rock 'n' roll guitar amplifier — has been in mothballs.
Who: Ryan Vosika
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28
Where: Bella Union, 170 W. California St., Jacksonville
Now, Vosika's more apt to be performing what he describes as "acoustic indie-folk" — original material with just a smattering of covers thrown in — for solo shows at Bella Union and South Stage Cellars in Jacksonville.
He will perform at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at Bella Union, 170 W. California St.
Solo, acoustic performance is not new for Vosika. He's always tried to maintain a balance in his guitar-playing life between electric and acoustic instruments, often opening for his own band as a solo act.
He's in the process of putting together a new band and plans to have a small rhythm section of bass and drums sit in with him for part of Thursday night's show.
The biggest difference between leading a band and playing solo is the guitar's role in each setting, he says.
Playing solo, Vosika is his own rhythm section, constrained by the need to maintain the overarching musical framework of the song. Adding bass and drums allows a wider range of styles and textures in his guitar-playing.
"It gives you more to work with," Vosika says. "It's nice to give audiences more than just your singing voice to listen to."
Vosika returned to the Rogue Valley in 2012, after chasing his musical dreams for 17 years in big cities. He grew up in Ruch and dropped out of Southern Oregon State College in 1995 to start a band in Portland. Five years later, he relocated his talents to L.A.
Leading his band in L.A., Vosika played short, showcase-style club sets of just 30 to 45 minutes. Transitioning to full-length shows in bars and restaurants where performers provide entertainment throughout the evening was a challenge — but not an unwelcome one.
"You just get a feel for the room and maybe add a few more covers," he says. "I have plenty of original material to fill out the sets."
The challenge of short shows is deciding which songs to leave out. Carrying the whole night himself taught Vosika to draw from his entire repertoire as a songwriter.
Vosika will participate in South Stage Cellars' annual Rising Stars competition. The contest takes place in installments each weekend between March 9 and April 27. The winner earns a cash prize and the opportunity to perform as an opening act at Britt Festivals this summer. Vosika's appearance for Rising Stars is set for Saturday, March 16.
Though Vosika feels more or less permanently settled in Southern Oregon, he has not given up on playing music in larger markets. He collaborates online with former L.A. bandmates and sees a future in regional touring based out of his new Jacksonville home.