Let’s start with a survey: Who doesn’t know Ryan? Even if you haven't attended one of his classes, you must have heard about him or even seen the tall guy with curly hair. Last week was a significant week for him since he had the opportunity to plan his first concert with his new band, Manwell Goodspeed.
Composed of three musicians, with Brendan Woodard on drums, Madhava Hansen on bass and Ryan D. Lee, himself, on guitar, the members of Manwell Goodspeed started their big adventure in September. Since they agreed on playing music together, they have been working on their new project nonstop. First, they had to get familiar with each other's skills and style, and then mix all their strengths to cover their personal weaknesses, before finally exchanging opinions on the different songs they want to interpret.
These steps are mostly the same for every new band. Then, after a long period of “private practice”, they needed to introduce themselves to the public, and let the audience judge them. I hate using the term “judge”, but unfortunately this is, in fact, the case. When you go on stage, you offer a performance, and the people in front of you decide whether they want more or not. Ryan summed up this step quite wisely: “People can listen to a famous song all day; however, it’s almost impossible to ask them to have the same behavior for new songs performed by unknown bands. That’s why 45 minutes is more than enough to give it a shot.” In fact, from my experience, I found it’s also a good way to make people interested in your performance. You give them a sample of who you are, and they may want to know more about you and hopefully, come to your next concert. That’s what I did. After Monday’s performance at the Sullivan Hall, I decided to attend their second concert at the Lone Wolf.
Spending a few days surrounded by performers helped me figure out something new about them. They are all grown children who dream of becoming famous. I had this naïve image I had seen on TV through movies or Reality TV shows where they all become successful. The reality is different. You have to fight and be strong. They come to New York to make it here and to reach for the sky because they feel like it’s possible! However, it will depend more on their mental strength rather than their talent.
Ryan is not different from the others on this point; he also came with a dream, his childhood dream. At the age of 9, when he got his first guitar, he wanted to be like his idol “Kurt Cobain”. At the age of 12, he was a member of a band called “Mr Osborne”. He smiled when he remembered this period of time with his two best friends in his parents’ basement, playing the whole day. He said with nostalgia, “We spent a lot of time working on our songs while being fed by my parents. We spoke for hours on how we were going to be famous stars, supported by a crazy crowd. We were kids …”
Unlike his friends, he kept on believing in this dream, which is why he came two years ago to tame NYC. It’s a very big challenge where you need to be patient, brave and, above all, passionate. As soon as you come to the Big Apple, you understand you are not the only one who shares the dream. There is a ton of artists ready for anything to become known. Fortunately, when you are mature enough, you start to enjoy the little pleasures the city can offer to you such as a scheduled concert, a responsive audience, a song downloaded on your website, a compliment,… You never know what the future will bring, so you keep working hard and enjoying yourself. Again, Ryan has an interesting point of view on this account: “There are so many factors when you decide to exist in this area. First, you have to know how to survive. Most of the time when you're just starting out, you have to deal with equations of the unknown; it’s a long process where every performance is different. We work on our concert, and deeply hope to give pleasure. However, sometimes, it doesn't work out exactly like expected. In fact the word “exactly” has no place in this field. Your performance depends on how you are playing that day, but also on the venue, the equipment, the audience, and so on.”
After these two performances, I could understand what he meant. Being under the spotlight is a very hard exercise where you have to be strong (while you are obviously vulnerable) to face whatever can happen before, during and after your performance. You also have to keep believing. Performing in public also requires you to be flexible, and you should have no expectations beyond the motivation to give pleasure. It’s a wonderful job when you think about it this way!
When you get to know Ryan, the first word that comes to mind is his incredible kindness. He cares about everybody and is always ready to help. This quality fits his desire to be a teacher. It makes him happy because he learns from his students as much as they learn from him. He also uses his precious strength in his performances too. He wants to make his audience spend a good moment while they are listening to his music. Thanks to him, I learned a big lesson about humanity and perseverance. So, as his idol, I will say “Here we are now, entertain us!” (…)