Hey everyone! Thanks for checking out Le Café Music. My name is Ryan Dawley and I am the “author.”
I’ll tell you, Snoop.
I am a 36-year-old kid from Erie, PA. I graduated from Gannon University with a BA in Theatre and Communication Arts way back in 2007, and I have been performing professionally ever since.
My first gig was a touring children’s musical in Pittsburgh called I Love Gas. Yes, you read that right. I was the swing for the 3 male roles in the educational musical about natural gas safety. I got paid $100 a show to make 3 fart noises with my mouth in a microphone backstage.
After that, I moved to New York in and immediately had my bank information stolen, along with all of the money in my account (Welcome to New York), so I started selling comedy tickets in Times Square for the New York Comedy Club. Yeah…I was one of those “Hey, do you like comedy?” guys everyone hates.
Needless to say, I didn’t make a whole lot of money.
Within a couple of months, I got my first gig and was off to a crappy little town in Indiana to do Pirates of Penzance and Cats in a barn at an Amish resort for $100 a week. It could only go uphill from there.
I went on to perform in shows in Nashville and the DC area for a couple of years before moving back to New York to work a “survival” job as a barista at Starbucks on 54th and Broadway for $10 an hour. With rent in Harlem at around $900 a month for a bedroom in a 3 bedroom apartment…my bank account was suffering again. Seems to be a theme in New York.
While sitting in my apartment and submitting for every musical theatre gig possible, I came across an interesting one. “Resident Actor in South Korea.” I though “Huh…that would be different.” Not anticipating a response, I submitted my audition materials.
10 minutes later, I got an email from Cameron at Gyeonggi English Village in Paju, South Korea, asking to do a Skype interview/audition. It went well, and I was put on the waiting list for the next available job. 10 minutes later, I got the life-changing email from Cam saying the job is mine and to start the visa process.
I waited 3 months to get my visa, then I was off to South Korea. I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t speak Korean. I was terrified.
It was the best thing to ever happen to me. I loved my colleagues. I loved everything about Korea…the food, the culture, the women. I was home. I performed in several lead roles in original ESL musicals for young Korean kids, and I even wrote the script for one of them.
After 1 year in Paju, I headed back to New York for a 3rd time. That didn’t last long. I missed Asia too much.
My buddy, Sam was living in Hong Kong at the time…so I booked a flight, packed my suitcases again and moved to Hong Kong to teach Drama classes to Kindergarteners. Hong Kong is now a second home to me. I have some incredible, life-long friends there and the city is just incredible.
After 6 months of teaching, I was offered gig at a LATT Children’s Theatre in Seoul, South Korea to perform in bi-lingual children’s musicals. Time to go back to the land of kimchi. I spent another full year in Seoul where I got to tour around the entire country and make cute little Korean kids laugh every day. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Next stop: Hong Kong, round 2. Teaching Secondary Drama and Language Arts at Lam Tai Fai College for another incredible year. Along with teaching, I started branching out into performing as well. I joined the Hong Kong Singers, where I was on the Board of Directors and performed lead roles in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and Assassins.
I did some voiceover work for a popular toy company and joined a band, Jack Rabbit Slim. We’d play for free drinks at a great little bar called The Wanch once a month. I don’t remember most of those nights. One of those gigs changed my career direction completely. Joe, a guitarist and band leader working with El-Live Productions saw videos of me singing with JRS and sent them to G, the CEO. 2 days later, I was offered a job as a lead singer in party bands in 5-Star Hotels all over Asia. Perfect timing, as my teaching contract was expiring in a few weeks.
For the next 2 years, I worked with El-Live, performing in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, the Grand Hyatt Seoul (Korea again!), Hilton Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia,) Grand Hyatt Singapore (where I met my wifey,) and the Grand Hyatt Beijing.
After 2 great years with El-Live, I accepted a 6 month contract to sing with Randy the Funky Pilgrim on the Carnival Freedom. One contract was enough, as I found out I get seasick way too easily.
After the cruise, I freelanced as a vocalist in Dubai (Rock Bottom Tecom,) Jakarta, Indonesia (Shangri-La Jakarta,) the Maldives (Four Seasons Resort,) Abu Dhabi (Rock Bottom Abu Dhabi,) and Shenyang, China (Dr. Mia night club.) I had a crazy 5 years of traveling the world, drinking way too much, and singing. Life was incredible.
After Shenyang, it was time to marry the woman of my dreams with 2 weddings in Erie and Singapore, and a trip to Rome. You can check that out here if you’d like:
After the wedding(s), the plan was to take a job in Phuket, Thailand and save money before moving to France to be with her. I took a job as the Senior Entertainment Specialist and lead singer of the in-house band at Blue Tree Phuket.
While there, I started my own entertainment company, Coverseas Productions. We link international bands with 5-Star Hotels and private events all over the world. Unfortunately, for both of these jobs…COVID-19 came along. I was stranded in Phuket for 3 months. Just me, my pup Mickey who I rescued in Thailand, and my buddy Paul, who was stuck there as well. When the land boarders opened up, we hitched a 16 hour ride to Bangkok where Mickey and I finally flew home.
That leads me to present day: Stuck in Erie, PA while my wife is still in France and we likely won’t see each other any time soon.
Since I’ve been home, I started working as an A&R at Estabrook Road Records where I recruit unsigned artists for the label and for artist development (www.estabrookroad.com) I am also working as a mentor with Musician Guidance at http://www.musicianguidance.com alongside some insanely talented people in the music industry.
That’s it. That’s me. I hope that didn’t bore you! I’ll start writing about music tomorrow, I promise.
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