By Sandie Tillery
Journalist Morphed into Musician, Jim Dyar
Story: Sandie Tillery Photo: Kara Stewart
Loving music… it started there. Since he quit his day job, Jim Dyar now has time to give himself over to his passion… making music. A decade of interviewing some of the best musicians in the industry as the entertainment editor of the Record Searchlight “worked up this buried love that I had for music,” Dyar says. When he left the newspaper, he found the freedom to make his part-time passion a fulltime pursuit and to share it with others as a vocation, not just a hobby.
Dyar grew up listening to the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan and Neil Young as his earliest music influences. When he moved to Redding in 1993 from Colorado, Merle Haggard and other classic country artists impacted his tastes. His iPod now holds an eclectic collection of jazz, blues, bluegrass, old country and rock music. The fusion of soulful music he calls “American roots” defines his own lyrical and musical style.
Inspiration seems to follow him, from his trumpet-playing father, musical older siblings and the family’s famous songwriting relatives Ruth Ellsworth and Bill Carter, to the music teacher who now plays in his band. Dyar humbly acknowledges a long list of talented folks who continue to give him reason to believe he is on the right path. Dyar gives high kudos to the North State’s community of artists and musicians who willingly embrace newcomers, generously sharing their wisdom and talents. Local guitar teacher Nick Ciampi encouraged him to “find my own expression” and “made me feel legitimate about writing my own songs,” Dyar says.
Jamming with friends like Tom Sellers, copy editor for the Sacramento Bee and a former Record Searchlight coworker, helped hone Dyar’s skills. Another Ciampi student and North State talent, Brian kenny, joined Dyar in the basement “playing like kids in a garage band.” He attributes much of his growth as an artist to those jam sessions. It inspired him to write and play with friends, which led to playing at parties. They now perform gigs at local night spots that are frequently standing-room only.
Along the way, Dyar met Doug Colosio and Scott Joss, musicians who play for Merle Haggard. Dyar earned his first songwriting credit for his input while they were brainstorming “Christmas in Cabo San Lucas,” a song Haggard has since recorded. Dyar is quick to express his appreciation for their mentoring and the interest Colosio and Joss have taken in his development as a professional musician. They have shown up for some of his local performances and have helped him through the recording process.
The two-year-old Jim Dyar Band combines the talents of a revolving lineup of local musicians. Current bandmates include Marvin Allen, Michael Gregory, Torri Pratt and Ron Adams. Pratt adds a special flavor to the vocals, with harmonies influenced by Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. His goal is to build a bigger audience. “I’m taking it one day at a time,” he says with a grin, “and I’m trying not to lose too much money at it.”
Dyar says frankly that his wife, Candace, supports them and allows him the time and freedom to step onto the stage, be creative and pursue his passion. “It couldn’t happen,” he says, “without a partner who is selfless and who believes in me.”
He still plies his journalistic skills, sharing his insights and opinions about more than just art and music on Doni Greenberg’s online “Food For Tought: A News Cafe” and the Web site he shares with his wife, jimdyar.wordpress.com.
A featured artist during this month’s 2nd Saturday Art Hop, Dyar and his band will play some of his original songs and arrangements on the street in front of Carnegie’s,1600 Oregon St., in downtown Redding. His music is laced with reflections on life from his point of view… the journalist morphed into musician.