Ryan Ganson: An Augustana renaissance man


Ryan Ganson plays the ukulele on Jan. 17 in his friend’s Kevin Phoenix, TLA Room. Photo by Brady Johnson.

Brady Johnson

Javelin, Spotify and endless bags of chicken breasts make up Ryan Ganson’s time at Augustana. People on campus know him as the musician, biology major and the pretty boy. Although Ganson wants to be known as more than just another face on campus.
Ganson is on the track team and is the only individual to throw the javelin.
“I throw javelin every day and work out three to four times a week,” Ganson said. A good majority of Ganson’s practice is done alone, most of his daily activities seem to be done independently.
“If you received my Instagram ad about throwing javelin I did not pay for that,” Ganson said. “Instagram offered me a thirty dollar credit to do that but I was able to recruit a javelin thrower.” His efforts in finding another individual worked, but the success was short-lived.
“My coach told me that he couldn’t throw,” Ganson said in frustration. “I still like you, Coach Williams.”
Ganson transferred to Augustana his sophomore year and was on the football team. A lot of his friends were current seniors and juniors so this year he took the role of the lone wolf. Many of his close friends he still contacts over the phone and a few still live in the quad cities.
Ganson’s music has taken the back seat recently because of his new internship at Genesis Illini Hospital as an EMT for clinical hours.
“Just did a 12-hour shift at the emergency room the other day,” Ganson said. “It’s one of those things that I don’t want to say that I really enjoy but I want to say it’s the right thing for me. It always puts things in perspective and that is an important thing.” Yet, his structured schedule doesn’t fully distance him from his passion for creating new musical material.
Kevin Phoenix, a junior at Augustana, is working again with Ganson on some new material.  
“Right now I am working on a project with Kevin Phoenix,” Ganson said. “We are still discovering our sound, but trying to go for a country blues vibe.”
Most of the night was spent talking about previous sessions and noting each other strong talents. Ganson is impressed with Phoenix’s ability to learn new instruments within a short period, while Phoenix is impressed with Ganson’s vocal range.
Their session turned into a long rendition of Hallelujah, which ended with laughter that they weren’t getting any progress done.
“He [Ryan] is dedicated,” Phoenix said. “Once he gets his mind on something he’ll just work at it for hours.” Phoenix and Ganson act like two kids left home alone with no oversight.
“He might look like a city slicker, but he is a country boy,” Phoenix said while he and Ganson laughed.
Admiration mixed with mutually deprecating humor, but it certainly is apparent that they work well together. They already have a co-published song on Spotify entitled “Saint Peter”.  
Ganson has worked with other individuals on his music including his good friend Marcus Prince, who currently lives in Davenport, Iowa. Ganson’s passion for cooking has led him and Prince into trying out new recipes.
“We made a Creme Brulee with a flambe,” Ganson said while laughing. “We were not expecting it to be good but it was perfect. I looked at Marcus in shock and said ‘“We did this.”’
Ganson celebrated his 22nd birthday this year by having six people over and holding a dinner party.
“One of the things I enjoy doing is trying to eat as healthy as I can on a minimal budget,” Ganson said.
Ganson is not an only child but grew up with three other siblings.
Ganson can only speak highly of his sister, Rachel Ganson, who is studying law in Boston and wants to go into international food policy. Matthew Ganson recently joined the military but Ganson feels like it was only yesterday that they would go hike in the woods and pummel each other while boxing.
Ganson doesn’t fully know where he is headed after his time at Augustana ends, but he is ready to create new music and help others as a physical therapist.
“To me, it is all about learning how to do something and be the best that you can at it, Ganson said. “I know that I am not going to be the best javelin thrower. I know I am not going to be the best musician ever. I am not going to be the best PT [physical therapist] ever, but I do know that I am going to be the most me at all of those. That might sound corny, but it’s enough for me.”

Caption: Ryan Ganson plays the ukulele on Jan. 17 in his friend’s Kevin Phoenix, TLA Room. Photo by Brady Johnson.