Ryan Dillaha Ready to Rock the Rust Belt (July 10)

Ryan Dillaha Ready to Rock the Rust Belt (July 10)

(Crystal A. Proxmire, 7/2/2011)


Seven years ago, Ryan Dillaha pounded out long shifts at Rouge Steel, the same downriver plant where his father earned a living, and his grandfather before him.  In the evenings he’d play guitar for hours, when he was allowed.


When my wife would bitch at me and not let me play, we’d sit there and watch tv and I’d be playing in my head and fingering the chords.”


And though his first love gave him two beautiful daughters, Dillaha says the divorce was the best thing that happened to him.


He’s since left factory life behind and captured several of his dreams.  He is a dissertation away from a phD at Wayne State, and he now makes his money teaching creative writing at Oakland Community College. He’s found a community that nurtures his artistic passions, and through his Ferndale connections he’s found more musical success than he could ever have imagined.

His hard-hitting old school country songs, heavy with the influence of soul, bluegrass and Dixie, have landed him regular gigs at Dino’s, Club Bart’s (which is now closed), and other appearances throughout the area.   He’s shared the stage with local favorites like Chris Brantley, and Moe Hollis of the Howling Diablos. On Saturday, July 10 it will be Chris Degnore of Jill Jack and Tim Rios joining him at the Rust Belt Market to play from 3-5pm.


On top of all that, Dillaha just released his second album – Love Alone, a collection of thirteen songs that are quite full of heartbreak, yet still upbeat to listen to.  “Don’t call it emo,” Dillaha said.  “This is Honkey Tonk kind of sadness.  It’s a prideful, drinking sadness.”


“I’ve always loved sad songs the most,” he said, adding that personal heartbreak was not so much his inspiration as the old records that his father used to play while he was growing up.  “My dad was born in Huntsvile, Tennessee and moved to Detroit when he was 16 or 17 years old, in the mid-60s.  He had the baddest ass record collection – all the southern stuff that Tennessee people love.  My dad listened to Otis Redding and Ray Charles.  Lots of bluegrass and soul. And a bunch of Mowtown Records too.  He was part of the northern migration of the south up to the auto industry, and his records had the music they picked up on the way.”


He said that his dad would get in moods, and play the same songs over and over again. “It made me look at music differently,” Dillaha said. “Listening to the way different parts fit together made me appreciate it more.”

Love Alone features Wyandotte drummer Tim Rios, a buddy who Dillaha praises immensely.  “I dragged him kicking and screaming into playing drums again, but he is excellent and I am so glad that he came around.  Getting back into drums changed him.  It’s great the way music can do that.”


The album also has special guests Jim Roll, Drew Howard, Roz Hingelberg, Matt Martinez, Chris Carmody and Frank Tyrybon. Like many upcoming independent artists, Dillaha has produced the album himself, borrowing money to have 1,000 of them made.


“This whole thing is learning as I go.  I’m just figuring stuff out.  Its weird trying to make it in a business way.  I’m not doing this for the money at all. It’s not about that.  The only thing I know how to do is to just keep playing the songs.”modern tax


The CDs will be available at Dillaha and Degnore’s July 10 Rust Belt show for $10.  Starting July 5 the CD will be available at www.cdbaby.com.


As Dillaha prepares to play the new Rust Belt Market, he is filled with excitement about the new venue and the city he’s officially called home for the past four years.  “Ferndale has been like Shangrala to me,” he said. “I don’t think I am going anywhere.”


Two of Dillaha’s songs, “Saddest Girl” and “Love Alone” can be previewed at http://www.reverbnation.com/ryandillaha.


The Rust Belt is a grassroots artist’s market that opened May 7.  Read some more about the Market and artists it has brought together at:










Check out our Music and Entertainment Section to learn about other local musicians and shows. The Ferndale 115 News is an online community news source that has been “Informing, Inspiring & Uniting” Ferndale since June 1, 2009. We are a locally-owned, independent press. Our goal is to be supported with reader donations. If you value this service please chip in what you can using the Pay Pal button to the right.

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