Part 1 'County Roots to City Lights'
Born 7th in a farm family of 8 in Markdale, Ontario, back before most cars had fins. Followed the family footsteps to become a teacher and school administrator. Co-hosted a radio show on CFOS in Owen Sound; began songwriting and performing in highschool and kept on that path through university (Waterloo) playing for Coffee Houses and church first hitting the recording studio with a batch of original songs in 1975.
By 1980 had joined his first regular bands (Country Dukes with Jerry Beausejour; Twin County Sideline with Darrell Laviolette) playing in Grey and Bruce Counties, soon forming ‘The Traverston Band’ with Ian Fowler, Oliver Schroer, Thelma Black and Walter Knaap. The band was a fixture on the regional Saturday night dance circuit to 1985 staging almost 200 performances in that period. In 1983 The Traverston Band recorded ‘Swingin’ The Night Away’, an album of originals. In addition to Jim's music, compositions by Oliver, Darrell and a co-write with Phil Marzec completed the offering. The presentation was consistent with their Western Swing sound; while a first serious studio recording project for all, it was an especially significant beginning for fiddle player Oliver Schroer, Juno nominated composer, producer and performer. To become more familiar with Oliver’s remarkable contribution to Canadian music, please read his website. We all miss him greatly.
Living in Toronto during the 1980's made regular travel to Grey/Bruce an untenable business proposition. In the late 80's Jim played bass for 2 years in the ‘Get Back Band’ (R & B) and assembled ‘The Blue Tractors’ (Western Swing) for special occasions. It was time to focus on songwriting and home recording, especially with Oliver Schroer and Greg Brown. The basement studio in the Ryan home was alive with the music of a number of promising entertainers in the Toronto folk and roots scene; most notably guitarist Don Ross. It was an exciting time for all.
1990 was another year of significant change. Returning to a more rural environment, Jim and wife Sue (also a teacher, singer and songwriter) accepted jobs teaching in Elgin County near London, Ontario. It was time to start a family (Joe in 1992 and Molly in 1995), renovate an old house and get involved in more music. Jim was an integral part of the ‘CHEVY BLUE’ Band for more than five years, getting the opportunity to hone his chops on harmonica and percussion as well as guitar. As this long established band evolved, crowds were moved by renditions of music from Santana to Blue Rodeo, James Brown to Tom Petty and everything in between; it was a blast.