Ryan Bushong, CVCLD, has water well drilling and music in his blood.
“I think the best drillers are really in tune with their rig as an instrument,” says the 44-year-old, one-man operation. “You can feel a certain way that it’s vibrating, a certain sound that the hydraulics are making, different little noises that people who aren’t drillers can’t hear. So, I think a good driller is in tune with his rig like it’s a musical instrument.”
Bushong hails from a family of music lovers. His grandfather, Clair Bushong Jr., told Bushong how his father even tried to get him and his five brothers and two sisters to play as a band. It didn’t work out as the senior Bushong had hoped, but the passion for music is not lost on Bushong.
“It’s just always been a part of who I am,” he states.
Bushong will join country music singer-songwriter Dan Wallace at the Ohio Water Well Association Flowing Well Outdoor Action Well Conference to play alongside him during the social time/mixer on June 13 in Oxford, Ohio. Bushong is currently producing and recording/mixing two of Wallace’s new singles (“Good Ole Days” and “A World of My Own”) and hopes to have them out on music streaming platforms in the coming months.
The water well drilling industry is represented in Bushong’s own two recently released singles, “Well Digger Blues” and “That Old Bucyrus-Erie” (co-written by friend and music collaborator Barry Scheiderer) (listen to songs at linktr.ee/ryboon). He plans to play them at the June conference, and on both songs, he self-produced, arranged, played all the instruments, sang all the vocals, and recorded them in his home studio.
“I hope to finally have a solo album of my own out within the next year,” says Bushong whose stage name is Ry Boon. “Beyond that, I’ll continue writing as I always have and have plans to record and produce some other fantastic local songwriters.”
While Bushong jokes that he’s a “jack of many instruments and master of none,” he plays the mandolin, harmonica, keyboard, and guitar with Wallace, a rising country talent, at music venues throughout Ohio.
Bushong’s daughter, Riley, has taken to music too and performs in the high school show choir and takes vocal lessons. His younger son, Dylan, also loves music but is more interested in sports and is developing his own YouTube channel.
“I like all different kinds of music,” says Bushong who favors the blues the most, followed by folk music from the 1930s-1940s. “In my opinion if something’s got soul it’s got soul. It’ll shine through no matter the genre.”
Bushong, who serves as vice president of the Ohio Water Well Association, operates a 2001 Versa-Drill V100. He offers pump installation along with water treatment and hopes to have his 12-year-old son help on jobsites this summer. It’ll consist of everything from shovel cuttings, drag/connect hoses, get elevators on casing, get tremie pipe ready, carry bags of bentonite, and help set up and tear down.
“Most of all, I want him to experience what it’s like to go to a site that has no water,” he says, “and then see, at the end of our efforts, the victory in water being blasted out of the ground.”
The love of residential water well drilling pulled Bushong back to the industry following 10-plus years as a geotechnical driller and manager. In early 2015, Bushong restarted the family business, which celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 2020. Bushong’s grandfather was alive to see the restart of the business before his passing in July 2016 at 91.
In addition to his mechanical knowledge, Bushong credits his grandfather for instilling his work ethic, integrity, and passion for the work.
“Those are the biggest things that he gave me,” he says.
Bushong’s grandfather, who was part of a feature article on the family business in the May 1960 issue of Johnson Screens’ The Driller publication, commonly said “there’s no use getting excited.”
“It was a reflection of his patience and fortitude,” Bushong explains. “He always worked through problems with calm resolve and never gave up. I’m referring to drilling problems, but I could see it in every aspect of his life. That stuck with me and has been valuable in everything I do.
“I think tenacity, ingenuity, thinking-outside-the-box, and problem solving are common traits among well drillers. I also feel that well drilling is one of the most noble professions. To provide Earth’s most precious resource and the most vital essence of life to those that otherwise wouldn’t have it is immensely fulfilling. It’s a bit like creating a song that touches a person’s life in a meaningful way.”
—By Mike Price