The guy on the left? That’s my friend Ryan Crane. This was taken the last time we were in the same room together. We were at Claire’s place and he and his girlfriend Tara were in town for a short visit. I remember having a lot of fun that night with a microscope attached to our phones.
Ryan passed away the morning of December 19th of a heart attack. A fucking heart attack at 46. To say I’m shocked would be an understatement. Near as I could tell he was in perfect health.
I met Ryan thru Geoff Dailey and Robin Clenard. Geoff and I had been trying, and failing, to put a band together with Steve Toth. At some point we gave up on that notion and decided to let Steve be Steve, record him, then let him choose the tracks he liked and we’d keep the left overs for us to edit and then add too. I have no clue what Steve did with the takes he kept but the cast offs became the basis for the first As Yet to Be Named record “Full Circle.”
Simultaneously to AYTBN, Geoff and I began working on songs with Robin. The band was to be called Robin and the Dirty Birds. I’m not certain which of them brought Ryan in to play guitar but it was definitely Robin or Geoff. I’d never met him previously, but had seen his band Molotov on at least two occasions.
Ryan quickly endeared himself to me with his quick wit, his enormous gift of empathy, and our shared love of The Dead Milkmen. It’s fitting that he moved to their home town of Philadelphia. We also both happened to have had our formative years in Livingston County. Me south of M-59 and he north of it, much closer to Bob Miles compound than I. We really bonded over our mutual dislike of old Bob and his klansmen.
On the surface, one could look at his rugged exterior and his work as a carpenter as the first signs of a red neck. They’d be so wrong. Regardless of his love of hunting and fishing, his venerable skills on the camp ground, and his adoration for the natural wonders of our fair state of Michigan the man could hold is own on almost any subject. A true renaissance man.
Somehow, Robin decided she didn’t want to pursue the band anymore and Geoff, Ryan, and I were left to build anew. We started writing songs and recorded some 6 track demos to hand out to potential singers. Some of it had lyrics written by either Ryan or I with suggestions from Geoff. One song Ryan wrote entirely and had carried around thru a few bands. I consider El Bronco to be his signature song as it fully exemplifies the essence of Ryan.
We tried out a couple of singers, but nothing really worked well enough to do more than one show and no recordings exist with vocals. The show, at the Elbow Room in Ypsilanti, was video taped but I’m currently unable to lay my hands on the tape. The singer we had at that point, Doug, was a hot mess on stage and that show kind of forced us to move on rather than invest time in getting another singer.
With the split came two bands. Geoff and I formed Porkfist and Geoff and Ryan formed She-nei. Both bands were amazing even though very different from each other. Porkfist being deadly serious and She-nei intentionally not. Both bands saw CD releases on Soiled Utilities Productions.
Ryan moved away, as mentioned earlier, to Philadelphia and made a new life for himself there. Becoming a fixture on the local scene playing along with Robin in Whiskey Effect, music was a constant in his life. Like breathing.
Rest easy my friend.