He’s spent a lifetime singing and writing songs for some of the biggest names in country music. But now, Tim Ryan has come home to Montana to celebrate the place he calls home and to honor the grandpa who was always by his side.
It’s the soundtrack of his life, a melody made while growing up on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Saint Ignatius.
“Growing up on the rez for me was the greatest place in the world, because it was so innocent back then,” Ryan said.
And now Tim Ryan is singing his story. After years of writing hits for other country stars he felt it was time to tell his tale.
“Play Me Montana is the true story of my life growing up on the Indian reservation in Saint Ignatius, so I always wanted to tell my story. I’ve been in commercial music all my life, writing songs for other people so this was the first time...I told my wife, I said 'I want to do my own thing. I want to tell my story.'”
He’s returned from Nashville to sing 13 original songs that tell a story about his life with his grandpa.
His symphonic memoir, Play Me Montana, is a multimedia performance with local talent who will drum, dance and sing along with the Missoula symphony, Tim’s guitar and some Grammy-winning talent to boot.
But it’s the story he’s telling that he really wants you to hear.
“What it is, is the journey of the Indian grandfather and his grandson. And it’s his wisdom that gets passed. Every story is his wisdom passed along to me.
His biggest hit “Dance in Circles” still gets hits on Youtube. And in that video, Tim’s Grandpa Vic Cordier is fiddling right along like he has since Tim was four-years-old.
Tim Ryan tells me the story of his life comes full circle. Grandpa was there for his first big performance, and his grandpa died on stage with him at the age of 92.
“Grandpa walked on stage and told his famous joke, one of his famous jokes. He started playing grandma’s favorite song “The Old Kentucky Waltz” and fell over backwards and passed away. So we were contemplating does the show stop right there and then? But my family came rushing to the stage and said no, the show goes on. Because grandpa would not have wanted it any different.”
The music will take you places Tim hopes will seem familiar in this lullaby to a life well-lived in the mountains of the Mission Valley.
“So my story, I’m hoping is going to be your story or someone in that crowd who says, man, that’s what my papa was like or that’s what my mom was like. So that’s what I want, for people in the crowd to say 'I can relate to what he’s telling me.'”
Play Me Montana happens this Saturday, June 17 at the Dennison Theater on the University of Montana campus. Ticket information can be found at Griztix.com.