the Institute

Out Now


chicago folk music


Raised throughout the midwest and living in Chicago, Ryan Burns plays music colored with the simple values of his surroundings. After spending his childhood singing and playing songs, it wasn't until he was an adult that he realized his calling to make music. Now Ryan plays genre-bending Americana songs on his banjo and guitar, winning over audiences with his combination of  thoughtful songwriting and cathartic vocals. While mainly drawing on American folk music, Ryan’s influences also dig into his background as an ethnomusicology major, pulling in sounds from Mande drumming, spacey rock, and Irish traditional music.

While playing a full schedule of dozens of shows in the past year, Ryan has been working on his debut EP, The Institute, releasing in May 2019. Each song on the album is inspired by a specific piece of art at The Art Institute of Chicago. Inspirations ranged from 13th century Chinese paintings to ancient marble sculptures. By bringing in ideas from great works of art, Ryan was able to broaden the stories and sounds used in the album, creating a varied musical texture while still using the same sonic palette throughout.

Ryan is also a member of the Chicago band Distant Brothers and has shared a stage with regional and national acts like The Last Bison, The Lighthouse and the Whaler, and Oistrakh Symphony Orchestra. He’s performed at regional festivals including Midsommarfest, Chillfest, and Groovewalk and he is currently writing material for his next project and touring at venues around the Midwest. When he’s not on the road he performs regularly throughout Chicago at venues like The Cubby Bear and Montrose Saloon, as well as residencies at several pubs and breweries.



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