Country Thunder is the largest country festival in Arizona. Country fans are attracted by the festival’s incredible line-up, good people, delicious food, cold drinks and camping. I attended for a different reason, to search for the heart of Country Thunder.
I wanted a story beyond the stage. Ryan Bexley is a New Jersey native, attended Arizona State University, and now lives in Nashville. I interviewed Bexley and discovered he has a huge heart for country music and those he has met along the way.
What have you been doing lately?
Bexley: Going on radio tours…places I want to go to, small town America. We’re always writing and doing stuff. We’re going to start releasing singles in the process of releasing our sophomore album. We’re very much promoting my current self-titled EP Ryan Bexley.
Who have you been writing with?
Bexley: I always wrote songs by myself, they’re personal. In Nashville, everyone is about co-writing. I’ve been very, very blessed to write with great writers who have mentored me – Casey Twist, Mark Jones, and Jim Beavers. You learn how to make a melody, how to condense 10 years of life into 3 min and 30 seconds. I’m exploring that.
What do you write about?
Bexley: Raw emotion, love, having your heart broke. When you write, it’s so personal, it should come off as personal. It shouldn’t be perfect. When I go into co-writes, I like the rawness of what I write from the heart. Everything I’ve wrote, I’ve experienced.
Who do you think has made an impact on country music?
Bexley: Merle Haggard was a person who wrote and you could look at him and understand what he was singing. A lot of today’s acts, you can’t pick that up. Die-hard fans miss the true songwriting music. Country music will come back, especially with singer/songwriters such as Chris Stapleton.
What makes your shows unique?
Bexley: Something has to be said about a live performance and seeing a band you’ve never heard of. You should be leaving a fan because they connected with you at some point. I try to bring that into every one of my shows. I want people leaving talking about us because we jammed, we’re fun, we let it go. It’s what’s missing at live shows.
Where is your favorite place to play in Arizona?
Bexley: Rusty Spur in Old Town. This is where I started exploring myself as a performer. Used to give ‘em $20 to play a song. Now I don’t have to pay. That’s my success story, I don’t have to pay to play with the house band at the Rusty Spur.
I’ve always been a fan watching from the crowd. I’ve met country artists long enough to exchange a few sentences. Ryan Bexley is an example of how all country artists should be – talented, humble and kind. It was the content of our conversation that was touching. Bexley wanted to get to know me as a person just as much as he wanted to share his musical journey. Thank you Ryan Bexley for the unforgettable experience. I left the weekend with a new friend and a full heart. That is the real purpose behind Country Thunder.