Beyond the Music: Savannah’s bar owning oboe player

Savannah Philharmonic’s Andrew Jay Ripley is living the best of both worlds
Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 2:24 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - It’s not the sound you’d expect to hear coming from bar and perhaps, not exactly who you’d expect that sound to be coming from.

“They probably think I’m a tuba player, not an oboe player. I don’t look like an oboe player,” said Andrew Jay Ripley, the Principal Oboe for the Savannah Philharmonic.

He’s now a far cry from where his life began.

“I grew up on a sheep farm in Minnesota.”

But his passion for music would take him to Julliard and from there he sought a career doing what he loved.

“When you’re training to be a musician you have no idea where you’re going to end up living,” said Ripley.

While he searched for his place to play, he found another love along the way, in a bar.

“I got to train with some really good cocktail bartenders and people who so much about beer and wine and I was really hungry to learn about that stuff as well,” Ripley says.

Working as a bartender he found himself fulfilled in a new way.

“As a classical musician you’re so separate from your community, at least traditionally. But as a bar tender everyone knows you. You’re so connected to your community in a way that’s really fun.”

So, when Ripley made his way to Savannah playing for the Philharmonic, he decided to bring his new passion with him, and he opened Lone Wolf.

“The fact that I get to play music on a high level on top of all the work of running a bar and restaurant is pretty great.”

While a bar scene and classical music would seem to be in complete opposition of each other, Andrew has found some similarities.

For starters, “both of them have like a huge amount of preparation involved,” says Ripley.

Perhaps most importantly, without a crowd to play too, neither are very successful.

“The central point of all of it is community. I love Savannah, I’m happy to be back in Savannah. I love the people here. That’s my favorite part about Savannah, the people.”

So, like making a drink, or music, sometimes the oddest combinations turn out to be best.

“To have a spot where people can gather and hangout and to be able to provide live music at a high quality. Having those things together is pretty neat,” Ripley said.