Ryan and friends provide afternoon delight

Campus Times
September 19, 2003


by Kenneth Todd Ruiz
Managing Editor

Musical quintet Michael Ryan and Friends entertained a large crowd with their easy sounds Wednesday as part of the music department's "Music in the Quad" outdoor concert series.

Students, faculty, residents and children, as well as friends and family of the band were on-hand for the show, which consisted of original material and covers of crowd favorites such as "Black Orpheus" (originally "Manha de Carnaval") and "Moondance" by Van Morrison.

While Ryan et al. may not be pushing the boundaries of musical expression, they provide solid entertainment with their diverse sound and instrumentation.

"Michael is so talented, and all of them are neat guys," said Pat Anderson, a Montclair resident and self-proclaimed groupie. "We love their music."

Ryan, front man for the group, struck up a classical guitar and lent his vocals to most of the numbers, while versatile musician and amateur comic Hai Muridian played the flute and also sang.

Ron Powell, who has played for Madonna and Kenny G, skillfully slapped the skins on a set of bongos, while ULV student and percussive prodigy Michael Bennett's efforts filled out the band's sound.

The lunchtime gig actually started out as Michael Ryan and Most of His Friends, as guitarist Ken Soderlund was a no-show.

"It's OK, he's considered fluff anyways," Muridian said with a smirk from the stage. "Actually, he's pretty critical, but we'll play what we can without him."

Fortunately Soderland arrived during the third number, and after enduring public humiliation from his friends onstage, took up his instrument and slipped right into the song in progress just in time for his guitar solo.

While Soderland's out-of-tune guitar went either forgiven or unnoticed by the audience, his band members did not let another opportunity pass to tease him.

The set continued with a mix of different styles, ranging from easily digested instrumentals to low-key romantic ballads.

Halfway through their set, the band entertained the audience with a semi-improvisational blues set.

Muridian incorporated thematic suggestions from the crowd into an amusing John Lee Hooker impersonation with the rest of the band backing him.

"Grading blues," "pop!" (a track from one of Muridian's albums of children's music) and "outer space" were ideas offered by the audience and worked into the song.

The casual tone and pleasant weather made for a picnic atmosphere, and indeed many in the audience ate their lunch as they listened.

"He's great," Whitney Wickham, a sophomore in the music department said of Michael Ryan.

"They all play a variety of instruments, and easily jam and improvise off of each other," she added.

Ryan and Soderland perform every Thursday evening at Casa de Salsa in Claremont. Ryan is also playing a solo classical guitar concert to benefit autistic children next Saturday, Sept. 27. Telephone (909) 621-4727 for more information.

The next "Music in the Quad" concert series performance will be at 12 p.m., Oct. 15. in the Quad, of course. For more information on this series, go to www/ulv.edu/music.