One Human Band

An interview with Bryan Drewyor
by Mike Huberty
February 2019

Bryan Drewyor of One Human Band playing AtwoodFest 2018 - photo by Michael Sullivan

Bryan Drewyor of One Human Band playing AtwoodFest 2018
photo by Michael Sullivan

With a long beard, simple hat, and acoustic guitar, Bryan Drewyor looks the part of the crunchy hippie troubadour, but he’s no cliche and his ONE HUMAN BAND sounds like anyone else’s full ensemble. Exciting fretboard work, a soulful voice, and philosophical song lyrics and themes show that he’s ready for a big stage, but he prefers the impromptu and unfiltered energy and of performing on locations like State Street here in Madison. Bryan recently began a residency at the Come Back In on Monday nights at 6pm and he’s preparing to release a new album of live recordings from Audio For The Arts studio in Madison.

MI: What does the name ONE HUMAN BAND mean?
BD: One Human Band is an idea that came to me after playing many years calling myself a ‘one man band’ in this acoustic setup where I am playing multiple percussion instruments with my feet, switching up between guitar, ukulele, or accordion, and while playing harmonica and singing. I wanted to come up with an idea that described my style of performing as well as a suggestion of a humanitarian or ecological approach to my songwriting. I thought of ‘one human race’, ‘one human tribe’ , and ‘one human family’ while associating, so i decided to name the project and debut album, One Human Band. ONE HUMAN BAND is a name that shows how we are all interconnected in an infinite amount of ways and patterns and the songs that I’m singing show that love is the catalyst to our connections.

MI: You make a lot of sound for just one guy!
BD: During my live performances i am playing a variety of foot percussion instruments that I have made or adapted to play on the floor while sitting on a amplified suitcase that I play like a kick drum while strumming a guitar, playing harmonica, and singing with a rustic and soulful voice that has been developed over the years into my original sound. Sometimes I’ll play other instruments instead of guitar like accordion, ukulele, mandolin, native flute, or piano when available. This is a full acoustic one man band without loop pedals or computers of any kind. The simplicity of the sound and the complexity of all the instruments still gives plenty of room for the vocals to stand out.

MI: What’s the song people should check out for their first ONE HUMAN BAND experience?
BD: If someone was listening to me the first time i would most likely recommend the song ‘Home Grown’ from the upcoming album release. It’s a song that is filled with soul and lyrics that show us that the idea of home is more like a feeling, or a person that you love, rather than a physical building or house. Its filled with little gestures of wanting to escape the turmoil and hustle of the modern city life, with all of its distractions, and to settle down with the family in a more organic and natural setting. Its about getting back to the basics in life, connecting with earth, and connecting to self and others, all while tying in the idea of relating home to the ones you love.

MI: Why do you love street performance so much?
BD: I have played a lot of beautiful festivals and theaters as well as big stages out in the studios in Hollywood, and what really brings me back to pure inner bliss is performing on the streets during farmers markets and summer afternoons on State Street. A large number of my performances happen on the streets and I enjoy connecting to the city and people throughout the year in all types of weather. I like adding to the soundscapes of the city and the connections I make everyday in so many beautiful ways. Random notes of encouragement and gratefulness are often placed in my guitar case and there is even a dog named Boyd who has been trained to bring a dollar over and drop it in. I bring sidewalk chalk to my performances and let my daughter spread them around to other kids and adults to bring a bit of color to the sound. These street performances have taught me how to be humble as well as to understand the deep connections we have as musicians and artists to the towns we live in.

MI: What sets you apart from other Madison musicians?
BD: I am really interested in connecting the musicians in Madison and to continue to be apart of the beautiful community so I believe stating anything that separates me from other musicians in Madison would be counterintuitive to my goals.

MI: Okay, so what excites you about Madison?
BD: I enjoy living in this city and love the community of musicians, artists, and dreamers. I like living a very active and healthy lifestyle and don’t drink alcohol. I love the concepts of traveling far distances with everything one needs to survive on a bicycle using nothing more than human power… Many of my songs reflect that love for family and nature which we are interconnected to in so many ways. My wish is to inspire people and to continue to open the minds and hearts of those who listen to these songs.

And if you’d like to see Bryan and the ONE HUMAN BAND live, make sure to check out the Come Back Inn or you can find him Saturday afternoons on State Street by Lisa Link Park (as long as the temperatures are above 20 degrees!

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