MUSIC | What’s become of them: Said Method, LeNor Barry, and The Rule (a.k.a. Ryan Liestman)

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In the Whatever Happened To department, there’s bad news, no news, and good news. For the pure hell of it, I nosed around on the Internet to look up some folk I’d written about and see what’d become of them. Came up with three of the stronger acts and, in one instance, some very interesting information.

First the bad news. Said Method must be one of the most amazing cases imaginable of killer talent spinning its wheels. They showed up somewhere around the mid-2000s with a monster demo in the pop vein of, say, Color Me Badd or Player, only tight enough to burn a hole in both those two combined. Their song “Witness” is the quality of songwriting and musicianship that makes careers. To this day, though, they haven’t released a thing. No album, EP, not so much as a single. They haven’t even updated their MySpace since July of last year. I once described them as throwing down hard as Chinese arithmetic. Here’s another turn of phrase: they have to be best thing yet that hasn’t even happened.

There’s no news at all about the strongest of the three acts, gifted songwriter and hypnotic vocalist LeNor Barry. She’s recorded three albums: Skeletons Die Laughing, Healer With a Twist, and Painting the Dragonfly, each one as incredible as the last. There are scores of
troubadours—female and male—who’ve hit the big time yet couldn’t hold a candle to Barry. Something of a cross between Sade and Patti Austin, she’s got a rich, soaring voice, writes intriguing melodies, and pens wry, insightful lyrics. Minor chords and major sevenths are, by their nature, sweetly dramatic. When she plays them on her 12-string guitar it is downright otherworldly. There’s no indication at her Web site as to when, where or if she’s gigging these days. It really is enough to make you want to take out an ad, saying, “LeNor Barry, come out, come out, wherever you are.”

The good news, ironically, is that the weakest of the three, The Rule—a.k.a. Ryan Liestman—has gone on to international success. Liestman is a well-connected (Michael Bland, Tommy Barbarella) keyboardist, guitarist, and singer-songwriter who performs exceptionally in the studio, but whose vocals don’t cut it quite as well live. Or at least they didn’t several years ago, when he was working Twin Cities clubs as frontman for his trio The Rule. He had a marvelous CD, The Rule, stocked with mostly reggae-tinged gems and a pop tune (“High Heeled Shoes”) that had classic hit stamped all over it in block letters. His voice just couldn’t carry the high notes in front of a crowd.

Liestman’s mentor from the time he was a teenager happened to be Cyndi Lauper’s manager. The Rule went on tour as her opening act and the young man’s star never stopped rising. He’s been absent from the Twin Cities music scene for a good reason. Following stints with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Vince Gill, and Taylor Swift, the last word had it that he was on tour, backing up the Jonas Brothers on keys and vocals.

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