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This story by Nicole Plett was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on

December 16, 1998. All rights reserved.

Drama of the Moment & Music

Photography and rock and roll have been a great marriage

for me," says Joe Ryan, whose show "The Music Never


concert images of the Grateful Dead and their final years with Jerry

Garcia, opens at the Starbucks Coffee on Nassau Street this Wednesday,

December 16. Ryan, who is 28 and single, rocketed right from the


program at Mercer County College, to the life of a professional


specializing in rock concerts.

The career path began in 1991 when Ryan, a West-Windsor high graduate,

began following the Dead tours. The following year he took up


as his major at Mercer County College.

"During the summer of 1993 I met with the Dead publicist, Dennis

McNally, to request a photo pass for a Giants Stadium show, not


I’d be taken seriously," says Ryan. "Two weeks later he called

me with the good news that the pass was set aside. Suddenly, from

there, my career as a photographer took off."

With his pass, Ryan had direct access to the stage to intimately


the band in concert. And within months he was being published


by Unbroken Chain magazine with three cover photographs. Next he


his work to Grateful Dead Merchandising, and by 1996 his photographs

of Bob Weir were featured in the group’s official calendar. His best

shots show the musicians utterly and completely engaged in their


Ryan gives a lot of credit to MCCC photography instructor Louis


with whom he studied for three years, for his success. "Lou Draper

pushed me, he inspired me," says Ryan. "He really made me

go for the gold." After a brief stint photographing for


Ryan is now a professional freelancer, earning part of his income

with a regular weekend spot at the Englishtown flea market. At


he’ll sell his prints for $55 to $85.

Through his work with the Dead, Ryan was able to branch out to cover

other bands — all personal favorites — including the Allman

Brothers, James Taylor, Blues Traveler, and Debbie Harry. And since

the demise of the Dead, he has switched his primary focus to guitarist

Bob Weir and his band Ratdog and the group’s Further Festivals.


and bearded, with sandy-colored hair, Ryan looks agile enough to


work the concert stage.

Looking over Ryan’s prints, we ask how he successfully captures the

drama of the moment? "Timing is everything," he explains.

"You have to know the music. You just have to be one with the

music. You have to be there."

— Nicole Plett

Joe Ryan Photographs, Starbucks Coffee, 100 Nassau

Street, 609-279-9204. "The Music Never Stopped," concert


of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, Wednesday, December 16,

through Sunday, January 3. The website for Ryan’s concert work

is at

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