Ryan first got into music in high school when he started taking guitar lessons. After only a year the place he was studying offered him a job as an instructor. From there he studied music and audio engineering in college, where he met his now business partner. Together they started a student run record label until about 2009 when they built up their own recording studio, where they've been successfully working on making a sustainable music scene in St. Louis for five years. They started their label, called Loud Label, around 2010. Recently, some of the bands that Ryan works with have even begun to branch outside of St. Louis. He and his business partner hope to organize several more tours outside of the area this year.
When we met, Ryan gave me a CD he'd released for a band called "Everything's Fine America". It was a folksy-mix with a unique use of brass instruments. There were at least three songs that had me toe-tapping along as I listened the second (and third) time.
Ryan actually knows Matthew who I met for Coffee #11. When I suggested that he go to Creative Happy Hour (Crappy Hour), he already knew about it and said he was good friends with a lot of the people who attend.
A quick side note, I have a habit, good or bad, of finishing people's phrases. Most people accept the word that I give them and move on to finish their thought without even thinking about it. But some people, very few though, will say "no" and supply their own word. I know this is minor, but I've always wondered what this might say about someone and I find it really interesting when I meet someone who doesn't use my words. Ryan did not.
The other thing I noticed while listening to the recording of our meeting, was that I came in (after work) with a really frenetic pace, talking quickly and loudly and trying hard to fill every silence. Ryan was laid back and calm. By the end of our conversation we had kind of met in the middle as far as pace and volume.
Back to our free coffee meeting...
Here's what I found extremely interesting, Ryan started a crowd-funding website to help stabilize historic buildings in St. Louis. He wants to start a dialogue with St. Louisans about what restoration means, because it can be as simple as stabilizing a structure until a developer can come in and rehab it. The focus right now is Old North St. Louis, near Crown Candy Kitchen.
Right now St. Louis tears does a lot of its historic structures, and Ryan wants the city to see that we St. Louisans care about redevelopment. The city currently has a demolition budget, but he wants that to be shifted to a budget for stabilizing buildings that are a part of our history. Kudos to the city, who released a sustainability plan recently, part of which calls for a stabilization fund.
As he was telling me all of this, I remembered a passage I had read in a guide book a few years back when my sister and I went on a road trip through the U.S. In talking about St. Louis, it said that there isn't much to see because we've converted a lot of our historic structures into parking lots and let the rest fall into disrepair.
That's a terrible reputation to have, and after talking to Ryan, I want to help change that trend and change that paragraph in the guidebook. To help with this project you can visit Ryan's website, http://www.brickstarter.com. He is working with Old North Restoration Group, a not for profit that is doing a lot of work to help this area.
The cost of stabilization varies depending on the project, but his current goal is $10,000. As of our meeting last week he had reached $2,000.
I really enjoyed meeting Ryan and really learned a lot about him and about St. Louis.
Insights: I should make a conscious effort to slow down and really pay attention to the person sitting across from me.
I'd really like to meet you for coffee.
I'm currently falling short of my goal and I only have 5 more months.
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