TAC Spotlight: Ryan D.

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The TAC Spotlight is a weekly focus on members of Tony’s Acoustic Challenge who have posted at least one performance on the forums and are especially active in the community by showing exemplary support or inspiration for other TAC members. All TAC Spotlight featured members are nominated by other TAC members.

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Just show up every day, and I'll tell you what to play!

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Say hi to Ryan D.!


Lancaster, PA

 # of years played

Technically I’ve been playing for 18 years, but the first 17.5 of those were sadly wasted on running the blues scale up and down the neck and playing the same ole’ handful of licks I learned in high school. It’s only been in the last half year or so that I have put a concerted effort in developing my playing.

Favorite 3 Bands:

This one is tough. Most of my playing life has been electric; only since my joining of TAC have I began to delve into the acoustic world so I gotta break my answer up accordingly.

    Acoustic: Big Bill Broonzy, Rev. Gary Davis, Jorma Kaukonen

    Electric: The Allman Brothers, Grateful Dead, Any band with Mike Bloomfield played on guitar (Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Al Kooper & Mike Bloomfield, his work with Nick Gravenites which is my personal favorite)

How many guitars do you currently own?

5 in total. Two Martin acoustics: a 0000-28 and an OM-35 (which is for sale at the moment), a telecaster, stratocaster, and a Berry Oakley Tractor-style P Bass signed by Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Oteil Burbridge, and Tim Lefebvre.

Why is it important for you to improve at guitar?

I read a quote recently that said “Progress not perfection” that really stuck with me. I’m often susceptible to frustration when I can’t nail a part perfectly which usually leads to me putting down the instrument for a while and regressing in my playing. Now I just tell myself this little mantra and as long as I am progressing I’m happy with my playing.

Why are you an active TAC member?

Easy. The lessons are great, the TAC team and members are wonderfully supportive, and it gives me new challenges each day. Just kidding, it’s the beards and bourbon.

What convinced you to submit your first performance video?

It took a while to get the courage up to submit that first video but I saw all the others who were posting and the positive feedback they were getting and decided that I needed to give it a shot.

Tell us the story of your first open mic?

My first open mic was also my last open mic. I was on electric guitar accompanying a singer/songwriter friend. I had never played in public before and was quite nervous. Thankfully Strats come equipped with this wonderful device called a volume control and when one finds themselves in over their head they can turn that sucker down and just make convincing guitar faces. While others don’t believe it’s directly the fault of my poor playing, the venue in question did closed down just a few short weeks later and for the sake of all local tavern owners I ceased any further public musical endeavors. Oh and yes, the video is on YouTube. No I will not provide the link. I’m certain my TAC account would be suspended and any and all content of mine would be scrubbed from the servers faster than you can say ‘Brazilian Rosewood makes me giddy’.

What’s the one thing you’d tell other TAC members who don’t think they’d be good at writing songs?

I’m not a songwriter but I’d like to work on the craft. Because of this  I’ve read up on a lot of people who are songwriters and a common theme that many mention is that the instrumentation, arrangement, and vocals all have to be in service of the song and the story it tells. Tell a good story and you’ll have an audience.

What else would be cool for people to know about you?

Thanks to a Griswaldian car ride one summer vacation and a chance purchase at a Cracker Barrel I can still, to this day, play ‘When The Saints Come Marching In’ on the harmonica with my nose.


  1. Profile photo of Vic G
    Vic G

    Hey Ryan, congratulations on your spotlight. Hope you had a good week.

  2. Profile photo of David P
    David P

    Great writing Ryan, and I love the progress not perfection. Great attitude and/or motto.

  3. Profile photo of Michael D
    Michael D

    Congrats on the spotlight! Cool to hear more about you, and your story of your first open mic night made my morning 🙂

  4. Profile photo of Dean M
    Dean M

    Your open mic night sounds like my life in a nutshell. Thanks for sharing…maybe I will get there one day!

  5. Profile photo of Duane W
    Duane W

    Ryan, Congratulations on Spotlight selection. Your bio is a fun read. IMHO you could be a songwriter, you’re an excellent storyteller. Love the motto / affirmation “Progress not perfection”, wonderful words to live by. Looking forward to more post from you.

  6. Profile photo of Andrew D
    Andrew D

    Congratulations Ryan, but why sell the OM-35? Have another specific guitar in-mind?

  7. Profile photo of Ryan D
    Ryan D

    Haha, thanks for the comments all! I had a great time writing it up and was honored when I saw that I had been selected. Thanks to Tony, Joel, and Levi for giving us this great group and thanks to all of you who make it such a warm and inviting place to learn and play.

    — Ryan

  8. Dru

    Oh, you! what a fun read. I agree with all the above, and I know you have a good story to tell, maybe a humorous one, that will become your first song. I love progress not perfection, too. I am so far from perfection I can makes lots of progress everyday…..

  9. Profile photo of Karol D
    Karol D

    If you play guitar as well as you write, you’ve got nothing to worry about! That was a fun read, thanks for sharing!

  10. Profile photo of Robert G
    Robert G

    Love the self-deprecating humor! Any harmonica tune played through your nose would be a good video to post:) Your video of Shady Grove is a good one and the visit by your puppy was a nice touch too. I’m convinced you are being quite modest regarding capabilities after 18 years.
    Well done on the Spotlight, Congrats!

  11. Profile photo of Emma S
    Emma S

    Hi Ryan, it’s great to see you on the Spot-light. I really enjoyed reading this and you have a great sense of humour.

  12. Profile photo of Jason T
    Jason T

    Nice spotlight, Ryan! Love the humor! Beards and Bourbon (sounds like a country song in the making)….Brazilian Rosewood makes me giddy! HA!

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