"In 1963, my uncle Johnny turned my dad on to Bob Dylan. He quickly became a big fan and desperately wanted to learn to play Dylan's songs. His idea was to send me, a 10 year old kid, to guitar lessons. I'd come home and teach him what I learned that day, and then we'd play Dylan tunes together. It was the thing that brought us together more than anything else." Ricky Joe Vella was born in Toronto in 1953, and raised in Scarborough. He went to Ryerson in 1973, where he met the woman of his dreams-someone who was willing to get married to get better student loans. Many years after the loans have been paid off, they are still married. In 1983, he quit his job at IBM to become a chicken farmer near Markdale in Grey County. This was when he decided never to let work interfere with the more important things in life. In 1993, Ricky Joe moved to Oakville and back into the corporate world with his wife, Jane Lindsay Thompson. Two years later, he suffered a heart attack and needed triple bypass surgery. Despite the bumps in the road, he retains a positive point of view and irreplaceable carefree attitude, underscored by a distinct love for life. This stands out in his music and especially on stage, where he smiles and laughs his way through his lighthearted story-driven set. Ricky Joe very nearly pursued a career in the entertainment world. In high school he took all the music and theatre courses he could, and the love of playing music and entertaining has stayed with him throughout his life. He didn't get accepted into the theatre program at Ryerson, and wound up in computer science. His biggest musical influence is Bob Dylan. Neil Young, Donovan and the Beatles have also inspired him. His band mates from The GCGC Gang and Mike Branton, who played on his first solo album FLOAT, continue to push and inspire him musically. "In 2007, at the age of 54, I was offered an early retirement package and jumped at it to embark on a new career as a full-time musician. When I worked in the corporate world most people, including my bosses and clients, thought I must be really good at what I do. How else could I get away with my scruffy hair, beard and ignorance of any sort of dress code? I fooled them all for over 30 years. Now I'm thinking I should switch over to a really clean-cut look. Who would expect that from a musician who sings about pirates?" In high school, and later at Ryerson, Ricky Joe performed in numerous musicals. In 1974, he got a job teaching guitar at an arts camp. The late 80's and early 90's is when he started writing music more earnestly. He got heavily involved with the Oakville music scene in 2005, playing many local events including the Waterfront Festival, Bronte Harbourfront, Kerr Street Celebrations and at the Moonshine Cafe. In April 2007 he played the Mariposa Showcase in Orillia with the GCDC Gang. He has opened concerts featuring Steve Payne, Mr. Rick and the Biscuits, Mad Violet, Terry Tufts, Mark Stafford, Carolyna Loveless, and many others. Recently he performed live on Ryerson radio and at Winterfolk in Toronto. Ricky Joe teaches guitar and mandolin as well as coaching young songwriters.