Interviews Steel Rollers (photo by Jessica Mickey)

Published on March 28th, 2013 | by Ballard Lesemann


The Punch List with the Steel Rollers’ Ryan Morris

The Punch List with the Steel Rollers

Metronome Charleston‘s weekly Punch List puts local musicians on the spot with a questionnaire that touches on music, venues, gear, records, vices, and more. This week, Ryan Morris of local bluegrass/folk-rock string band the Steel Rollers has a turn.

1. What is your favorite local hang (hangout/bar/venue) and why? 

“The Charleston Pour House. We’ve been attending shows there for years. It’s got the best bands, a good crowd, and it’s been our favorite place to play about as long as we’ve been playing shows.”

2. You know you’ve played an excellent show when…

“When you’re getting back as much energy from the audience as you’re putting out on stage. When you’ve got foot stomping, hoots ‘n’ hollers, and most especially dancing … when you get a crowd dancing that’s when you’ve done your duty as a performer.”


Steel Rollers (photo by Natalie Hopkins)


3. What was the last show you attended that really got you fired up in a good or bad way?

“The Infamous String Dusters a few montsh ago. These guys are a great example of a string band that doesn’t limit itself to any strict guidelines of what a bluegrass band can be, and it was great to see them play on the same stage we had, once again, at the Pour House.”

4. Define your musical style in exactly 10 words.

“High energy traditional and contemporary string music spanning many genres.”

5. What’s your theme song?

“‘Family Tradition’ by Hank Williams Jr. I remember talking to [bassist] Brad Poplin about that song one day, and he said that he and his buddies used to slag all the way through it, and it was like their song, you know? I think the chorus of, ‘Why do you drink? / Why do you roll smoke? / Why must you live out the songs that you wrote?’ relate to the stuff that’s gone down with us. I think it relates to some of our songs and it’s fairly well suited.

6. Gear-wise, what’s is your irreplaceable baby?

“Gotta go outside the box on this one: the only truly irreplaceable gear would have to be the gear we were born with — our hands and fingers. Everything else could be replaced with a handful of dollars, so yeah, if you’re talking irreplaceable, that’s it.”

7. What’s the most overplayed album in your collection?

“That’s tough … not sure if there’s a real answer for that. All I can think to say is that would have to be a compilation of all the live recordings of the Allman Brothers Band and Grateful Dead we could get our hands on.”

8. When was the last time you were genuinely star-struck?

“Willie Nelson live, for sure. I haven’t been to too many shows where I was really star-struck, but seeing Willie in 2009 at a music festival in Michigan was probably the biggest one. He was great live — as if he hadn’t aged at all from when he was young perform back in the day. He still rocks it out with full energy.”

9. What’s your poison?

“Bourbon and ginger ale. This combination got us through many outdoor gigs this year during the coldest months of winter.”

10. In 10 years, I will be…

“Hopefully, still playing music and reminiscing with Steel Rollers about how lucky we were to be able to get together make music and have so much fun doing it.”

The Steel Rollers formed in early 2012 with the lineup of Ryan Morris (banjo, mandolin, harmonica, vocals), Dallas Baker (guitar, harmonica, vocals), Brad Poplin (upright bass, vocals), Chris Williams (dobro, guitar), and Jonathan DePriest (fiddle, cello).  The quintet is preparing to release their debut album this spring.

The Steel Rollers will perform at the Tin Roof at 9 p.m. on Thurs. March 28, on the deck stage at the Pour House at 5 p.m. on Fri. March 29, and at Seanachai’s Social Club (on Johns Island) at 8 p.m. on Fri. April 5.

Visit for more.

Top and bottom photos by Jessica Mickey. 

Steel Rollers (photo by Jessica Mickey)



Powered by Facebook Comments

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

About the Author

Ballard Lesemann

is a musician and writer. Born and raised in Charleston, S.C., he spent years playing in bands and working for Flagpole Magazine in the bustling music town of Athens, Ga. He returned to his hometown and served more than seven years as the Charleston City Paper's music editor. He's better at drumming than he is at playing guitar.

Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑