Musical scales (of justice)


Law student was a pro musician playing in Kid Rock's band

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Ryan J. VanOver’s life as a student at Detroit Mercy Law is a far cry from his previous persona as professional musician by the name of Ty Stone, whose brand of southern rock/country music was discovered by Kid Rock.

“High-level music requires riding in a bus, plane, or van all day long, different hotels every night, a fixation on vocal health, and numerous other daily activities not nearly as glamorous as you might think – it’s brutal and exhausting most of the time,” VanOver says. “Law school is similarly difficult and exhausting, but I’ve never worked harder than when on tour.

“I’m very excited to be home, and hopefully have the opportunity to start a family someday. Music is amazing, and will always have a piece of my heart, but I’m in love with the law these days – although I still keep a guitar next to my desk for study breaks.”

In his undergrad years at Kenyon College in Ohio, VanOver’s plan was to attend law school, pursue a career in law, and eventually get into politics.

“It’s always been important to me to be able to find ways to connect to and help people, and I thought politics and law would be the best way to do that on a daily basis,” he says.

Then music, a passion from childhood, took over in a big way. In college, he began playing guitar, singing, and writing songs – and in his senior year, entered and won a Battle of the Bands, his first real “gig.” 

“After the excitement, rush, and fun of the experience, I was hooked, and that was, as they say, all she wrote,” he says.

After graduation, VanOver put the scales of justice on the back burner in favor of musical scales.

After several years, and a fortuitous layoff from Great Lakes Steel, he headed to Los Angeles, where he flipped hamburgers at a Rock ‘n’ Roll bar named Molly Malone’s pub, and followed his musical passion every day for two years – “One of the greatest times in my life,” he says.

As Ty Stone, he performed around the L.A. area, and headlined several concerts for Indie 103.1 FM. A big feather in his cap was when his song “Beauty Queen,” was featured on the finale of the ABC show, “The Bachelorette.”

Then fate stepped in. A friend got front row tickets for the Detroit Pistons that would be near Kid Rock’s favorite seats. 

“Being the best friend ever, Sam took one of my CDs in case he ran into Kid Rock,” VanOver explains. “As luck would have it, the two met, and Sam gave him my music.”

Several weeks later, while cooking hamburgers in L.A., VanOver got a call from an unknown number, and – thinking it might be a bill collector or marketing pitch – sent it to voicemail. Playing the message back later, he was stunned to hear Kid Rock’s voice.

“I immediately returned the call, and he and I struck up a friendship that persists to this day,” he says. 

Not only did Kid Rock come out to L.A. to catch one of VanOver’s shows, he offered to sign him to his Top Dog Label. VanOver jumped at the opportunity – and has since played 140 arena and stadium shows with Kid Rock, including Ford Field, Comerica Park, Joe Louis Arena, DTE, and the Palace of Auburn Hills, and was the opening act for Kid Rock’s “Live Trucker” tour. He even lived at Kid Rock’s house for a few months, meeting icons such as Elton John, Axl Rose, and Hank Williams Jr.

Subsequently signed to Atlantic Records, VanOver debuted a national single, “American Style,” as well as a video that reached No. 1 on 

“The experience was every dream and fantasy of mine come true – including that I was able to touch many lives through my music and my story,” he says.

His experience with his own indie label – Minor Label Records – was interesting, he notes. 

“I had an idea to change the way music was created and released, but the opportunities in the music industry continually dwindle and consolidate, and by the time we entered the game, there was no pie left to grab a slice of.

“The model was an interesting idea, but it became to difficult to sustain, and after a while, we decided to stop. But being a major-label artist allows you to run a business filled with many aspects, and label owner was one of the most memorable and rewarding.”

But the law still remains his No.1. passion.

“I was always attracted to the lay vision of a courtroom,” he says. “My mind generally works logically, and I’m quick on my feet. I believe that’s the heart of the law.”

A full time student at Detroit Mercy Law, he has loved his studies since day one. 

“The faculty is personable, supportive and helpful,” he says. “I already feel as if I’ve made lifelong associations while here. The students are great, the facility is clean and up to date, and the small size of the school assures that a personal experience can be found. I was accepted to many schools, and very happy and proud that I chose DML.

“I look forward to entering the workforce, and helping build the proud tradition of formidable, professional, capable litigators. I’m excited to learn about entertainment law, but in Detroit, there are probably far more practical specializations.”
In a few months he will work as a summer associate at Dykema.

“I can’t wait to meet and work with the lawyers at such a well-respected firm,” he says.  “I’m excited to see how much I can learn, and to distinguish myself as a legal professional. 

“I enjoyed working at the federal courthouse with Judge (George) Steeh and his incredible staff last summer. It was the most rewarding experience, but I also look forward to getting the feel for the other side of the bench.  Should be a great summer, and hopefully, beyond.”

The Lincoln Park native has lived in Ohio, Los Angeles, Nashville, and Colchester in England – and for the last few years, in downtown Detroit.  He recently purchased a house in Lincoln Park.

“It’s a great little spot that’s perfect for homework, he says. “It’s been great to be Downriver again.”

He’s happy to be back in the Motor City.

“As the community around us grows, so does my pride in this city,” he says. “I’ve always reflected that civic pride in my music, and now with my choice as to where to pursue law. It’s incredible to see the positive changes downtown over
the last few years, and I look forward to continuing to learn and work here.”

When not playing music or studying law, VanOver loves tinkering with classic cars, and enjoying Michigan outdoor recreation.

“I’ve also taken up golf and cigars…  never hurts to fit in,” he says with a smile.