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Metal guitarist ready to turn it down: O'Shaughnessy shows soft side at Rock Off

John Benson • Jan 28, 2011 at 10:14 AM

Want to go?

• WHAT: 15th Annual Tri-C High School Rock Off

• WHERE: House of Blues, 308 Euclid Ave., Cleveland

• WHEN: 4 p.m. Jan. 29

• COST: $10

• INFO: kisscleveland.com/rockoff

After spending the last four years touring around the Buckeye State playing thrash metal guitar with local band Bled the Night, Perkins High School senior Ryan O’Shaughnessy is about to debut his new solo acoustic style with an appearance at the 15th Annual Tri-C High School Rock Off on Jan. 29 at Cleveland’s House of Blues.

“I’ve been playing guitar for 10 years now and I’ve been writing music for eight,” said O’Shaughnessy, 18. “I never heard of the Rock Off until my choir director gave me a pamphlet. I’m more excited than anything else because it’ll be the first time I truly expose people to my pop music. It’s like John Mayer, Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson. I have a really strong jazz and blues pop background and I put it into pop melodies.”

 While it may appear the metal guitarist has been keeping his acoustic guitar leanings in the closet, he said the truth is he always wrote in an unplugged fashion when he was with Bled the Night, which broke up a few months ago.

“My playing is very, very guitar driven and my lyrics are very poetic,” O’Shaughnessy said. “I try to have a strong blues and jazz type sound but in pop song form. I just took everything I love about acoustic and metal, because I write my songs in the same form but it’s not with distortion and things like that.”

Among the new songs O’Shaughnessy will be debuting at the Rock Off are the laid back “High School Anthem” and the ballad “Pouring Rain.” What’s interesting is the hopeful musician is kind of using the Rock Off as a warm-up gig for his Feb. 12 audition at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. He said his goal is to become a songwriter and perhaps a solo artist.

Still, the Rock Off has plenty to offer with the winning band or act receiving $500, a full color 3x8’ vinyl banner printed with the winning band’s logo, a $500 gift card from Sam Ash Music and 24 hours of recording time. In addition, the winner will appear on Tri-C’s cable television programs “Crooked River Groove” and “Words & Music.” Perhaps the most lucrative prize for the winner is the fact they will have the opportunity to open for a national band at the House of Blues or a Live Nation venue. The winning outfit’s high school band fund will also receive a $200 donation.

“I’m so pumped up for this, I’m so ready,” O’Shaughnessy said. “I believe my songs are very, very interesting and very catchy.”

 If O’Shaughnessy sounds confident, it’s because he is.

 “Oh, yes,” O’Shaughnessy said. “Hopefully I will win it all. Even I don’t, all I’m looking for is playing for an audience.”

 For more information about the 15th Annual Tri-C High School Rock Off, visit kisscleveland.com/rockoff.

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