Musical benefits in memory of drummer Ryan Doolittle | Lifestyles
Described as a musical force to be reckoned with, former drummer for The Mezz, Ryan Doolittle is remembered by those who knew him.
Doolittle, 29, died on April 27.
Austin Woodard and Zach Todd, members of the band Mezz, and other musicians organized two benefit shows in memory of Doolittle.
Shows take place at 7 p.m. on Fridays upstairs at Good Times Brewing, 233 Maxwell Ave., and at 8 p.m. on June 5 at Howard’s on Main, 330 Main St., both in Uptown Greenwood.
Doolittle’s mother Jennifer Raines said the proceeds were being collected for Ryan’s son.
“Ryan naturally turned to music at a young age,” Raines said. “I remember he was only about 2 years old, watching TV, singing with Nirvana and Pearl Jam on MTV Unplugged. At about 2-3 years old he could really hold a rhythm and at 5 years old he had his first real drums.
Mostly self-taught, Ryan took little music lessons as a child, Raines said, noting his most valuable possessions were his drums and guitar.
“I got so used to him as a kid practicing the drums that I could take a nap while he was doing it,” Raines said. “He was very smart in school, but music was his passion. … It was given by God.
Raines said his son idolized late Rush drummer Neal Peart, and Ryan more than once pointed out to him that Toto’s 1980s hit “Africa” was among his favorite songs to play, along with his musical grooves. of the world ahead of its time.
“His style of drumming was like a Category 5 hurricane – no, a Category 6,” former groupmate Austin Woodard said to himself.
“His style was chaotic, with an emphasis on technicality,” said former groupmate Zach Todd. “He was really into polyrhythms and things that weren’t rhythmic. He gave off pure spontaneity and energy.
The Mezz is a progressive funk / jam group. Todd is on guitar, synth and vocals and Woodard is on bass, synth and vocals.
“In the summer of 2017, the Mezz trio got together,” Todd said, noting that the group was originally a quartet, with Dylan Rogers also on guitar at the time, and fellow drummer Jonathan Titus. , at the time.
Woodard said Doolittle’s finesse on drums matched the Mezz’s style of music.
“We went to Ryan’s to ask him if he was considering joining us,” Todd said. “The first official show we played together was a boon for a late friend, Marcus Harris. It was an entirely improvised and instrumental ensemble.
The Mezz remained a four-piece band until the summer of 2018, when things started to mix between Todd, Woodard and Doolittle.
“Ryan’s family told me he started playing percussion on pots and pans as a young child and a few years later had his own drums,” Todd said. “He was always in some sort of band, whether it was a garage band in college or with a piano bar in Greenville and many others, including metal tunes with Empty Skyline, A Mile at Sea and HOTSALT.
In addition, Doolittle replaced local musicians when a drummer was needed.
Ashby Stokes said Doolittle drummed in her trio and Jake Bartley said Doolittle joined her band as well.
“He was a great drummer and a very nice person,” Bartley wrote in a text. “I am very grateful for the time I was able to spend with him.”
The direction of the Mezz from here hasn’t been much discussed to date, Todd said.
“For a while, drummer Will Thompson sat with us, with Keller Ridgeway on guitar. … We need more drummers in Greenwood. I might have to stop playing guitar and start playing drums. … Ryan knew how to work his way into any instrument.
At the time of Doolittle’s death, Todd said The Mezz was weeks away from installing to record their next project.
“If we had never been a group, we still would have been an extremely close group of friends,” Todd said. “There were days we had to practice and we ended up on the back porch smoking cigarettes, laughing our asses off.
Contact St. Claire Donaghy at 864-992-8934.