2007 - Matousek Family Lifetime Acheivment Award
Northeast Iowa native James Ronan was born in Dubuque and raised in Decorah. Having an older sister who listened to the early rock and roll hits of the 1950s helped him tune into music at an early age. He got his first taste of live music in the summer of 1965, when local deejay Darrell Winkie booked The Byrds into Spillville, Iowa’s Inwood Ballroom.
The timing couldn't have been better, with the band's recording of the Dylan-penned ‘Tambourine Man’ having spent the summer at #1 on the Billboard charts. The experience was a pivotal one for the young music fan. In the years to come, Winkie would become a friend and mentor to James; who attended a concert every week during those last heady years before arena rock took over the industry, when rock and roll bands were still touring the Midwest ballroom circuit.
By the early 1970s he’d begun putting his love for live music to work. After attending Loras College, he moved to the Twin Cities, graduated from Brown Institute, and began a career in broadcasting and booking live entertainment. After spending some time on the West Coast, checking out the music scene in L.A. and San Francisco, he moved back to eastern Iowa -- working up and down the dial at several radio stations, deejaying and promoting live music.
In the 1980s he formed his own agency, D.A.S.Y. (Dance and Stay Young) Productions; established to ‘provide, support and promote live entertainment.’ Through D.A.S.Y., James books acts at all levels – from local artists to internationally touring talent -- and tries especially to bring these performers to the remaining ballrooms in the Midwest.
Over the course of a thirty five-year career in the music business, James has been involved with many fundraising groups and charity benefits, bringing his infectious enthusiasm to the raising of money for international organizations like Oxfam, as well as for local food pantries, free clinics, and other worthy causes. He has also worked with local communities and individuals, helping them coordinate events -- from wedding parties to high school reunions to music festivals. In addition to his on-air and backstage work, James has taught interim college-level courses in rock and roll, and has for many years been a regular contributor to several periodicals; writing music columns, record and live concert reviews, plus band and performer profiles and articles.
When the Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Music Association Hall of Fame was formed in 1997 James became their first secretary/treasurer -- and has been active on the board ever since as a card-carrying, dues-paying Lifetime Member. Today he is back in Decorah operating his production company, continuing to enjoy as much live music as he can. For those 35 years of dedication to music, James Ronan is the recipient of a Danny Matousek Lifetime Achievement Awards as a member of the Hall of Fame Class of 2007.A