Waukesha’s Ryan McIntyre eager to play at the Pabst
A wife, two kids, a home, vacation as full-time local musician


January 19, 2017


Singer-songwriter Ryan McIntyre will open at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 27 at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee as well as Jan. 28 at the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan, Ill., for EagleMania.

Submitted photo

WAUKESHA - Shortly before EagleMania plays at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, expect Ryan McIntyre to be pinching himself.

The Waukesha South alum and Waukesha resident will be playing acoustic before the New Jersey-based Eagles tribute band plays in the 1,110-capacity, beautiful downtown theater complete with giant chandelier on Jan. 27.

“I pinch myself at times and I'm really going to be pinching myself at the Pabst,” McIntyre said. “It’s usually not like that. It’s usually bowling alleys and Mexican restaurants, and weddings.

“It’s kind of like the World Series for me,” McIntyre said. “I dreamed to play in a place like that forever.”

For the 39-year-old full-time musician, who the show’s promoter Bruce Peterson compares to James Taylor, it’s the peak of a career he imagined but not in the way it turned out.

When he was 16, he played with a group of friends at Waukesha’s Sidewalk Days, dreamed of a career like the BoDeans, who “walked the same halls at Waukesha South,” and played in a band, Exit, from about ages 18 to 23, working as a key maker and never going to college.

He would play alt-rock, then come home and play James Taylor and John Denver songs for himself. Growing up, his uncles would play those songs around family campfires and his grandparents played polka. When John Denver died, they  mourned his passing, he said.

McIntyre has found fulfillment solo, although he adds accompaniment at times, like he will at the Pabst.

He has a set list of more than 850 songs, from John Denver to Coldplay with Neil Diamond and almost everyone imaginable thrown in. At the top of the rŽsumŽ for the singer-songwriter who performs about 200 times a year is seven Wisconsin Area Music Industry awards, including Male Vocalist of the Year.

With numerous original songs under his belt, he has been writing material for the Pabst concert in a country-rock vein, McIntyre said.

The tie with the   headliner could be tighter, but it’s a good fit, said Peterson of BruMar  Productions, which he runs with his wife, Mary.

“It’s more about giving a local guy his 15 minutes,” Peterson said. “And Ryan has a following, and it’s bringing in those fans to see EagleMania.

“He has a charisma that's unmatchable. And he's just a nice guy,” Peterson said. “Guys like that deserve to play on a higher level.”

McIntyre did aim for a higher level: Making it in Nashville. He’d drive there for four or five shows at a crack, then play back home throughout 2007-’09.

“When I went to Nashville they asked, ‘What is your job back home?’ and I said, ‘I’m a musician.’ And they said, ‘No, what’s your day job?’ and I said, “That’s it.’” Well, the musicians told him, he had made it and didn’t need Nashville.

He does travel away from southeastern Wisconsin occasionally, including playing at a recent destination wedding in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. He also has begun speaking at teacher in-service days and added writing children’s songs to his repertoire since the birth of two of his own, now 4 and 18 months.

“And I’m not rolling in money, but I’ve got a wife and two kids and a home and a mortgage and a car and I go on vacation,” McIntyre said.