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Ryan Chrys named Entertainer of the Year by Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame

Dave Herrera | Aug. 30, 2016 | 7 a.m.

Ryan Chrys was named Entertainer of the Year by the Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame.

At a small ceremony this past weekend in Lakewood, the singer-guitarist was one of a half dozen artists who were recognized by the organization, which was established nearly two decades ago and counts scene icons such as Lannie Garrett and John Macy among its inductees.

Chrys, frontman of Ryan Chrys and the Rough Cuts—an outfit that comprises Bradley Weaver on vocals and lap steel, Paul Lanier on bass, and Michael Jochum on drums—has been playing in the scene for more than a decade.

During that time, he's performed several different styles of music, from furious funk with the Demon Funkies to more straightforward pop with the Sound and Color, but he's at his absolute best leading the Rough Cuts, his country-based band formed in 2013.

With a voice that instantly evokes one classic country's most revered icons, Chrys adds flavor and authenticity to his band's distinctive sound, which, at its heart, is firmly rooted in the traditional era of the genre and infused in a heaping helping of rugged rock.

Since forming three years ago, Ryan Chrys and the Rough Cuts has steadily built up a devoted following in Denver and across the country, snagging a nod as Best Country Band from the local newspaper last year in the process.

Chrys' latest recognition means a great deal to the singer-guitarist, as it comes from venerable veterans of the traditional country scene, who have kept the beating heart of the genre alive in spite of current trends. These pioneers are the ones who paved the way for country in Colorado, a world away from Nashville, both geographically and stylistically. 

"There is a ton of information on the old underground Colorado country bands, but it takes a lot of digging to find them and learn," says Chrys. "It takes person to person, going to the right places and talking to people who know where the people are that make this scene vibrant."

Somewhat unwittingly—in that this isn't necessarily what Chrys and his bandmates set out to do—Ryan Chrys and the Rough Cuts are essentially carrying the torch of this community. So being recognized by longtime members of the Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame means even more for what it represents.

According to Chrys, he came to the attention of the organization thanks to Rudy Grant, a fellow country artist, who's part of the Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame. The two first met in Black Hawk a few years ago. Chrys invited Grant on stage with the Rough Cuts for a rendition of "Folsom Prison Blues," and they've been friends ever since. Chrys attended last year's induction ceremony, and Grant returned the favor, inviting Chrys to sit in with his band.

"I am beyond grateful for our band, Ryan Chrys & The Rough Cuts, to be recognized by the Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame—a true honor for me!" says Chrys. "While I am beyond grateful for the Entertainer of the Year award, I truly hope, one day, to be actually inducted into the Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame, where I can rest among local legends and heroes." 

At the awards banquet on Sunday, Chrys was one of six award winners, a group that also included Richie Law and Peggy Malone, named Male and female vocalists of the year, the Jim Hyatt Band, named band of the year, Clip Cookson, named instrumentalist of the year, Pam Osburn and Skip Wells, who earned accolades as songwriters of the year.

Here are some highlights from the ceremony.