There are plenty of guitarists, bassists, keyboardists and singers who will tell you that music is the only thing they could ever see themselves doing. But for Sean Ryan, music is just about the only thing he has ever done—literally. At 25 years old, Ryan has more experience working as a professional musician than many of his contemporaries will have by their mid-30s. He began drumming for his father’s smooth jazz trio when he was 11, squeezing in home-school lessons in between gigs at clubs, private parties, weddings and restaurants.
He took the GED when he was 16 to focus on music full-time. He eventually left the trio when he was 17, and moved to Southern California to try his hand at graphic design. But after a relationship soured, the 20-year-old Ryan realized he belonged in the music biz, so he packed up and headed north to Santa Cruz, where he now makes a living teaching music lessons and performing at parties, restaurants, coffee shops and clubs, much like he did as a kid. Ryan and bassist Russ Vanz play a mix of classic rock and pop covers, along with a few originals. Unlike many bands who aspire to go on national tours and play for big crowds, Ryan takes pride in his ability to play music that people can enjoy in a relaxing setting. “We’re just the live entertainment,” he says of his mostly acoustic performances. And that is OK with him. “I’m just doing what I love,” he says. That passion shines through in his performances, which aren’t hard to catch, as he’s constantly performing all over the Monterey Bay area, and are imbued with genuine emotion and soul.
INFO: 6-8 p.m. Thursday, March 14. Ugly Mug, 4640 Soquel Drive, Soquel. $5. 477-1341.