Many references have been made previously about the Blue Rodeo concert last September in Brantford, ON, and how the show became an inspiration for the creation of this blog.  And I fondly recall the announcement of an opening act by the name of Ron Hawkins, an artist unknown to us at the time, but safe in the knowledge that Blue Rodeo would not lead us astray.  Ron Hawkins and The Do Good Assassins opened that particular show with an amazing 35-minute set that left us wondering just how we’d made our journey so far into this music scene, yet had not experienced this performer until now.  Promptly purchasing his two most recent solo CDs at the merchandise table (from Ron’s lovely mother), we took a very quick crash course in the ‘all things Ron Hawkins’ back catalog.

Fast forward from September to February of this year, and Ron kindly answered questions from us about his tour with Blue Rodeo, his latest album and his plans for the next few months ahead.  And with hints of both a new “Lowest of the Low” album in the works, and some future tour dates in both ON and Buffalo, NY, we were optimistic that the opportunity to see Ron headline his own show would materialize soon.  Shortly after our interview appeared on this blog, Ron announced an upcoming solo event in Buffalo, and Team GDW were left disappointed due to having already committed to another show that same night.  However, further announcements would include a show at The Garnet in Peterborough, ON, and this time, we had a wide open weekend.

Google Maps told us that Peterborough was a mere 8 hour and 19 minute drive.  A little more than the 6 hour and 30 minute drive that we typically take, but hey, we’d been wanting to visit Peterborough anyway, and so our plans were confirmed.  This past Saturday, we hit the road and after a few stops (to take advantage of ‘Record Store Day’ events), arrived in the friendly town of Peterborough.  Making our way to The Garnet, we met the event organizer (Sean) who both welcomed and informed us that the show would be pretty intimate, with anywhere from 30 to 50 people in attendance.  Finding a table, and sampling some local brews, we were ready for a night of great music ahead.

Following a 30-minute opening set by local duo Oxford Blue, Ron Hawkins took the stage with his acoustic guitar for the first of two sets.  The audience were promptly informed to expect some solo stuff, some Rusty Nails material, some Lowest of the Low, and some new material too.  We were certainly more than okay with that!  Ron would launch into “Kinda The Lonely One” to start the show, and go on to perform about 24 tracks from his set list (most likely shortened due to the late addition of an opening act).

The first set was a wonderful mix of material new and old, and tracks were interwoven with stories that accompanied the songs.  In particular, the admission that he may not remember all the words to The Rusty Nails’ “Crackstatic” (as he never had to sing those parts), and sharing the new Low track “Immortal,” which may or may not be right (‘but if not, it doesn’t matter, because you don’t know it yet’).  And naturally Ron dedicated “Beautiful Girl” to his daughter Ruby B, after regaling the audience with tales behind the making of the music video for this particular track.  Immediately after this song, Ron invited his close friend Steve Singh to join him on stage, and together they would perform a wonderful rendition of the Do Good Assassins track “Rome” to close the first set.

After a brief 25-minute intermission, which gave people the opportunity to chat with Ron and to purchase merchandise (it was good to see folks buying the albums and supporting the livelihood of the artist), Ron would commence his second set.  With a stronger emphasis on the solo material, Ron delighted the audience with tracks such as “Three Penny Operator,” “Chrome,” and “City of Lies.”  The popular Low track “Salesmen, Cheats and Liars” would be in the mix too, and Ron eventually wound down with my personal favorite “Peace and Quiet.”  With a brief hiatus from the stage (‘I’m going out to the bus’), Ron would return for his encore (‘wait, there is no bus’).  Opening his encore with another new Low track, “Powerlines,” Ron would not venture away from the Low catalog, choosing to close with “Black Monday” as his show finale.

Both sets were well received from those in attendance at The Garnet.  With a well-balanced performance, Ron effortlessly entertained the crowd all evening and demonstrated once again both his versatility and wonderful vast catalog of material to draw upon.  With an announcement that the new Low album should be released around September, he also made everybody aware that the Low would be hitting the road to promote the new release later this year.  We certainly plan to monitor that development.

Team GDW would like to once again express our gratitude to Ron Hawkins for everything he has done for us recently (this is an extensive list).  We thank you for the invite to the show, and the opportunity to meet with you between sets and after the show.  We thank you for providing us with a personalized set list, and for taking time to autograph our endless supply of memorabilia too.  We thank you for performing both “4 O’Clock Stop” and “Eternal Fatalist” that we requested prior to the show.  And we thank you for dedicating a track to us, your newfound appreciative fans who traveled 8 hours and 19 minutes to enjoy your show.  Ron Hawkins: rock star, folk singer, prolific lyricist and all-round entertainer; yet a humble and generous human being with such passion and dedication to his musical profession.  Team GDW cannot wait to catch up with you again later this year, whether performing solo, with the Low, or with the DGA.  Rest assured, if you are playing in the GTA or NY, we won’t have ‘other commitments’ next time.

Ron Hawkins Set List

  1. Kinda The Lonely One
  2. 4 O’Clock Stop
  3. Crackstatic
  4. Strum and Drag
  5. Genevieve
  6. Spotlight
  7. Gamble
  8. Immortal
  9. One Hundred Five
  10. South Ontario
  11. Sister Jude
  12. Beautiful Girl
  13. Rome
  14. Lazy Days
  15. Three Penny Operator
  16. Eternal Fatalist
  17. Salesmen, Cheats and Liars
  18. Chrome
  19. The Rain’s The Thing
  20. City of Lies
  21. Bite Down Hard
  22. Peace and Quiet

Encore

  1. Powerlines
  2. Black Monday

~ M

Visit Ron Hawkins’ website.