Ryan McMahon was born in 1979 in Chemainus, B.C.
The only child of a longshoreman and a future educator, McMahon began entertaining early.
The circles of aunts, uncles and grandparents were tickled by his early renditions of the theme song from Davy Crocket: King of the Wild Frontier. The same relatives were not so thrilled by his discoveries and emulations of the early stage stylings of Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor.
Whether the attention he received was positive or negative, it was during these early days that hooked McMahon into evoking emotion from those around him.
Now 37 years old, McMahon has carved out a 17-year career as an independent artist in Canada’s vibrant music scene. He’s always been a genre fence-sitter, hanging out on the edges of country just enough to say he isn’t. McMahon is both a whisper and a scream.
McMahon’s life goal has always been to craft songs that speak to the human condition.
“I didn’t know who I was until I found music,” he said. “I found that the person I was becoming in my songs was far more confident and self-assured than I was myself. Writing songs was my way of relating to people on a broader scale than I could otherwise.”
Over the course of his career, McMahon has toured Canada countless times, released four full-length albums, and seen his music licensed nationally and abroad. He has shared the stage with an extremely wide-variety of artists, ranging from Lisa Loeb and Buffy Ste. Marie to Nickelback and Mother Mother. He’s had the honour of participating in JunoFest, the Western Canadian Music Awards, Canadian Music Week, Music West, Americana Fest (Nashville), Folk Alliance International (Kansas City) and various other notable Canadian Music Festivals, including three wins (male vocalist, record and artist of the Year) out of five nominations at the Vancouver Island Music Awards in 2012.
In 2012, McMahon co-founded Lion Bear Fox, with song-writing colleagues Cory Woodward and Christopher Arruda, and the band was immediately named as one of the Top 20 Finalists for the 2013 Peak Performance Project in Vancouver. The opportunity gave McMahon and his band mates the chance to shine light towards their charity, the BandWagon Project (mobile recording studios that visit various lower mainland care facilities), which was inspired by Megan McNeil and The Will To Survive Campaign that McMahon was deeply involved in.
In April of 2014, Showtime’s original series, Californication featured the single I’ll Be Damned, a song that was included on Put Me Back Together, which came out April 2015. On Sept. 8, McMahon released a home-recorded EP titled Song Shelter Recordings, created entirely at his home studio in Ladysmith, B.C.
Legendary Canadian TV/Radio personality Terry David Mulligan may have summed up Ryan best: “The complete package. Singer. Songwriter. Performer. Troublemaker. Passionate human being. For me… priceless.”
McMahon takes the Spinners Sound Centre stage Sept. 15 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 at the store.