Every once in a while, you see a music fan in Deep Ellum who is having so much fun going to see bands that they inadvertently end up on the professional side of things. Nicole Ryann is one of those, and is now a tech-in-training. And she's good. She has an eye, ear and pretty keen cerebral sense for live production, while maintaining a world-class sense of humor and wit at the same time. Nicole knows her shit ... influenced partly by her longtime boyfriend Micah Creel (The Commotion, Edgewater), who is not only a local lighting tech, but tours with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club doing a lot of the same. Ryann also pals with the neighborhood's master live techs at places like Trees and Curtain Club, and can be seen all over the neighborhood: talking to "Keyboard Bob," whisking between live-music clubs, and having the time of her life.
You and Micah recently moved to Deep Ellum from the 'burbs. How is it? Pros and cons?
We've been down here almost a year now. Lovin' it. Our place is right behind Trees, and angled in such a way that my bedroom window is within earshot of Three Links. Some nights we'll get random firework shows at 1 a.m. on a Tuesday. It's kinda like Never-Never Land, you just never know. Some people are just drawn here. The pros being are able to walk to venues, bars, and restaurants. Some people might consider hearing live music from your patio and bedroom all night a con, but we think it's great.
You spend a lot of time in the production booths, and it's not just to do shots with the the guys running sound. You're shadowing and learning. Labor of love?
I'm really just dancing around, watching the show, and building shot towers. Somebody's gotta take over after Chad kicks the bucket. I also occasionally run the lighting rig at Curtain Club. I genuinely love going to shows and hanging out with the usual suspects. Being able to learn any of the sound, lighting, or backline end of the operation is just a bonus.
Your favorite Texas band is The Sword, from Austin, that much I know. How about faves from DFW?
HK (The House Harkonnen) out of Arlington is one of my favorites. I invested in a pair of Hear-o's solely because of that band. I'll go to a show and then be hating life two days later because my ears are still ringing. I also love some Shaolin Death Squad and Mothership. They always bring the voodoo. I'd say those are my top three in no particular order. They're all in leagues of they're own.
What live music experience in your younger years set you off in this direction?
The first concert I ever went to was Rage Against The Machine/The Roots at what used to be Starplex. I think I told my dad I was going to see Jewel.
Ha ha. I'm so glad I don't have a daughter.
I had to be 14 at the time. At that point I thought going to that show was the coolest thing I'd ever done. I guess that's where it started.
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What about other music experiences in your youth that might have inspired you to be such a superfan and pro-in-training? In my early 20s I had the opportunity to go on tour with Warped and Ozzfest. That was an incredible expierence to be able to see the production side of those monstrous tours. I was able to see Ozzy perform every night, and every night I couldn't believe it. That was an inspiring time. I don't consider myself a superfan. I have a specific taste, and I don't like everything. I don't mind showing some love to bands that might not be up my alley, but are talented nevertheless.
Say you had some political influence over the local music/arts community. What changes would you implement to make things better/easier?
I'd stress that it's good sportsmanship to stay until everybody on the bill is done performing. What happened to closing the place down? That's my biggest pet peeve, seeing somebody play their set and then bail. Also when a band has two minutes left and they go ahead with a song that has a guitar solo so long it could rival Freebird.