Ryan is a singer/songwriter, a multi-instrumentalist, a session musician, a qualified music teacher, a music technician, a sound engineer and somewhat of an improvisational whizz kid. His true love is blues harmonica, his passion having been stirred by his successful *blues guru* father, Pete Mitchell-Smith from a very early age. Ryan focused on music composition and live performance on bass and acoustic guitar at Derby University, achieving a First Class BA honours degree in Popular Music with Music Technology. Ryan was only the third person in the courses history to achieve this accolade at the time.
Before all this Ryan was a “yes” man. He said yes to everything, and it got him some pretty wonderful opportunities…
At school Ryan started out as an all-rounder, never really shining in any one subject but he always worked hard when he wasn’t daydreaming out of a window. He got the C he needed for music with some serious patience from his awesome music teacher and went on to take the Grade 3 music theory exam to get into music College. Despite extra lessons over the summer Ryan failed that exam by one mark with a score of 65. The course leader Tony Davis let him in anyway as he showed promise. Ryan could never have taken that opportunity more seriously. He went on to pass the Btec National Diploma with an overall merit. During this time Ryan played at the Royal Albert Hall at the Last Night of the School Proms to an audience of 7,000 people, and in 1996 he stage managed the British saxophone congress shown on ITV.
Ryan went on to Derby University the following year but didn’t get past the audition with the guitar piece he played, and as he *knew* that was the only course for him; he waited another year, working part-time and helping out his mum after the passing of his dad Pete. He took up bass guitar instead and got preparing a piece that would hopefully get him in, Duke Ellington’s “Don’t get around much anymore”. Half as many bassists as guitarists meant Ryan’s chances increased and he got on his ideal course. During his time in Derby, he played a solo gig to what he believed was ten people in a room, but found out afterwards, that it had been a live broadcast to 250,000 online viewers. Saying yes is good for Ryan. He got his dream qualification in the end despite failing his second year after damaging his right hand, and on re-tuning his efforts for year three he got 6 A-‘s and 2 B’s, including his dissertation and final performance exam both getting an A- which gave Ryan the First degree he had worked so hard to achieve.
It was only natural for Ryan to go into teaching. He got his teaching PGCE at Leeds and received the award for “best lesson” in his cohort. He went on to teach music successfully at a number of schools before he realised that standing in front of thirty people wasn’t as productive for him as working one to one, and so he took a big decision to take on a new rather unique role, as a music technician. He worked at Ossett Academy for 7 years, teaching students and teachers alike how to use Cubase, whilst fixing anything that broke, uttering the immortal words “turn it off, now turn it back on again…” on a regular basis. Eventually, Ryan was forced to leave his wonder job for health reasons...
In February 2014 Ryan was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease and spent 2 years going through operations and tests having no choice but to be off work for nearly 18 months. He was unable to walk for 6 months due to Psoriasis between his legs which made it too painful to walk or sit down. This inspired his fourth album title "Are You Sitting Comfortably?". which he finished and released in 2015 to great feedback from listeners. Just as he was getting back on his feet Ryan experienced several spontaneous pneumothorax in his sleep, and had to have major surgery to stop his left lung from constantly collapsing. He was told his lungs had active emphysema that wouldn't ever heal. He needed an operation to glue his lung to his chest cavity to stop it collapsing in future. During the operation (VATS Bullectomy and TALC pleurodesis) his lung collapsed again after the gluing process and he went into shock. He nearly passed away and had it not been for his sister and best friend grabbing a surgeon who got him back on morphine and a chest drain and re-inflated his lung, Ryan would no longer be here. Ryan woke up and has never smoked ever since.
Ryan has to be very careful and vigilant with his health. He does his best to say "Yes!" but every now and again his health declines either through his Crohn's or his lungs becoming sore. His right lung could collapse at any time so Ryan has to be extremely careful. This has not stopped him completely though. Ryan is now trying his best to get back to playing music, which has very much been his therapy through all the difficult times he has endured and he is hoping to do little gigs here and there, both as a singer/songwriter and also as a harmonica player, where and whenever he can. His health might go backwards at any time, so he maintains a positive attitude and keeps trying all the same.