May 2nd, 2015
The Experience Magazine recently interviewed Topanga Canyon blues legend Deb Ryder. This was backstage at the Topanga Blues Concert on May 2nd. Cadillac Zack hosts this exclusive yearly blues event. Fittingly, this took place at the Will Greer Theatricum Botanicum. Will Greer is famous for being Grandpa Walton on TV as well as introducing his brand of socialism to Woody Guthrie. Both Will Greer and Woody Guthrie are two of Topanga Canyon’s most legendary performers. Deb knows all about Topanga Canyon. Having grown up in Topanga Canyon, her step father owned a famous night club called the Topanga Corral. She was introduced to blues music at the club and by other famous Topanga Canyon residents. Deb told me about being mentored by Etta James. Deb Says, “Etta James used to tell me, ‘You have six thousand too many words in that song!'” Etta also used to say, “Little girl, go warm up my band!” Deb says, “It was just me, my skinny legs and my big box guitar.” She talks about hanging out with Etta James and Big Joe Turner. “It was amazing”, says Deb. She also learned a lot from Canned Heat lead singer Bob Hite. Deb reflects, “I learned so much from these people!” When I was growing up in Topanga Canyon, I was Neil Young’s flower girl at his wedding!” She goes on to talk about her friendship with Hill Street Blues actor Kiel Martin. Kiel Martin, who was married to Dean Martin’s daughter, was a hard drinking, chain smoking TV actor. He’s best known for his portrayal of the bad detective “JD” on on Hill Street Blues. Deb Says, “One time Kiel and I were coming down Topanga Canyon in his little sports car. I was sitting in the back. Kiel hits a bump and I went flying out the back! Luckily I only bruised my tailbone.”
It’s when you hear Deb Ryder sing that you understand her legacy. She has a big Blues Diva voice. Her range is incredible. She sings Chicago blues, gospel and Zydecko. Her husband and bass player, Rick Ryder, provide a solid back drop for her blues band. Deb says, “Rick is blues obsessed”. There is a buzz in the music industry about Rick Ryder’s solid bass playing. When you hear Rick Ryder on the new album, he’s getting so good. On “Let It Rain”, Rick plays tune after tune with great feel and perfect timing. “Let It Rain” is currently number five on the Blues Debut. “Let it Rain” is also at number two on the Roots Music Report.
Deb is a regular at the Maui Sugarmill in Tarzana, California and the Arcadia Blues Club in Arcadia, California.