Hello, Dear Reader!
I can hardly believe it’s August, half a year goes by so fast. The past six months have brought a few surprises. My daily migraines have become occasional headaches; I wound up in the ER twice, and we’re still trying to understand why; and I’ve just begun a new treatment regimen for ME/CFS that involves avoiding common household bacteria and taking a bunch more pills. Also… I’m changing my name! I’m not applying for an new government ID, at least not anytime soon, but going forward, I’ll be introducing myself as:
Don’t get me wrong, Ryan Little is a perfectly fine name. And if you still want to use it, that’s fine too. It was my byline on countless articles, in publications big and small. It served me well as a journalist, a touring musician, a record label owner/operator, a musician advocate, and a nightlife/culture enthusiast, among other things. I used that name when I worked gigs all over the DC area, as a mover, a stagehand, and a literacy tutor. I played & watched hundreds of shows with it, and I introduced myself as Ryan to oh so many people.
I don’t do those things anymore.
After I got sick in 2013, I banged out a few more pieces for WCP, WaPo, & Rolling Stone, but it quickly became too much for me. I kept tutoring kids for a while, until I couldn’t safely drive anymore. I played my last rock ‘n roll show in 2015. The life I led as Ryan Little for so many years is not the life I lead today.
I haven’t stopped living though! I’m working on a new album, rebuilding my programming/coding skills, and sharing songs & stories with my patrons (thank you for your support!). I’m spending a weekend in silence at a Franciscan monastery in September, where I’ll read, meditate, and maybe listen to monks chant. I’m an openly “queer demi-dude” (which I posted about earlier), I’m disabled, and I’m chronically ill, all identities that took years to accept and understand. This feels worth acknowledging.
I’m new. My old name carries unfinished projects and stalled ambitions. Rather than ruminate on those losses, I’d like to focus on who I am now. Today. In this very moment!
Technically, Rye Thomas is just my first name, slightly altered, followed by my middle name. But it’s punchy, confident, and present. Maybe even sexy? You can call me “Rye Thomas” (like “Mary Sue”) or just “Rye.” My old name doesn’t actually bother me, you can still use it, it’s just historical now. Rye Thomas is the future!
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I’m hoping to finish up a full Soft Punch album this Fall. You’ll certainly be hearing more about it as it comes along. In a way, I’ve been working on this album for most of my adult life–I wrote some of the songs well over a decade ago, while others just arrived in recent weeks. It’s a gift to have so much material to choose from.
I’ve been listening to new music more often these days, including more ambitious, challenging records (which I simply couldn’t handle for a long time). My friend Janel Leppen just put out a spectacular chamber-jazz album with her Ensemble Volcanic Ash that explores a really wild expanse of sonic terrain. Katie Alice-Greer (formerly of Priests) released a harsh, strange solo album that inspired me to push some of my own songs a bit further. I’ve only listened to an excerpt of it, but I was very moved by the dense & droning “Piece for Cello and Saxophone,” written by minimalist Terry Jennings in the ’60s, arranged for solo cello in Just Intonation by La Monte Young, and performed by the excellent Charles Curtis.
But it’s not only about albums, right? Given how disappointing their last record was, I was super happy with the recent, fist-pumping single from Yeah Yeah Yeahs featuring Perfume Genius. Soccer Mommy’s dreamy banger “Shotgun” gets endlessly stuck in my head. And the latest Jimmy Eat World single really caught me off guard with lines like, “There’s a moment where you die or move on… Are you a different person now?” It’s a forward-looking nostalgia piece that lands like a punch in the gut, but in the catchiest way possible.
Anyhow, I like you, I appreciate you, and you should check in sometime. ‘Til then, I hope you’re able to safely enjoy the summer rays before they fade away.