Ron Hawkins Returns to Hamilton’s Mule Spinner

Ron Hawkins

Just six days after our evening with Lee Harvey Osmond at The Mule Spinner in Hamilton, ON, Team GDW returned to this wonderful venue for another night of live music.  It was close to twelve months ago when we first stepped into this former cotton factory to catch a live set from Toronto singer-songwriter Ron Hawkins, and upon learning that he was returning to this venue once more, we quickly secured our tickets in anticipation of another great show.

Opening duties on this particular night were handled by folk-punk singer-songwriter Skye Wallace, whose similarities in musical style and content proved a perfect fit for this show.  It may have been cold and icy outside, but Skye quickly warmed up the room when stepping up to the microphone with her acoustic guitar in hand.  And while she was proud to announce that her new album was set for release later this year, Skye chose to share songs from both her 2016 “Something Wicked” and 2014 “Living Parts” album on this given evening.

Opening with an energetic rendition of “Guiltiest Hymn,”  Skye would return to her current album through the night, adding favorites such as “Mean Song 2” and “Blood Moon” to the set.  Fans would also welcome older tracks from “Living Hell,” including “Scarlet Fever” and “Ain’t It Hell,” which Skye closed with some self-propelled elevation from the Mule Spinner floor.  “I’ve been playing some bigger rock shows where I want to get pumped up, so I do that jump thing a lot,” she explained.

Confessing her love for the music of The Weakerthans, Skye performed a fantastic cover of “Watermark,” and followed with tales of her time spent last winter in a colder part of Canada.  “I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with the Yukon … with time spent curling, I’m a curler … and drinking, although keeping up with the drinking was hard,” she joked. “They have this two for one deal, which means four for two, because you just don’t buy one … it was hard to keep up.”  She would also add “Swing Batter” to her set, a tune she wrote for International Women’s Day, and based on a publicized true story of domestic abuse.  Closing with a rousing version of “Middle Class Ontario,” Skye earned several new fans in the room, many of whom will catch her again soon given the recent announcement of her upcoming full-band tour in support of The Lowest of the Low.

Skye Wallace Set List:

  1. Guiltiest Hymn
  2. Blood Moon
  3. Ain’t It Hell
  4. Watermark (Weakerthans cover)
  5. Scarlet Fever
  6. Swing Batter
  7. Mean Song 2
  8. Stronghold
  9. Middle Class Ontario

After a brief intermission, Ron Hawkins would take place center-stage, officially marking his return to this venue after that amazing show in January 2018.  Opening with “Kinda’ The Lonely One,” attendees would quickly appreciate a diverse selection of his music, both solo works and material from The Lowest of the Low.  Performing popular cuts such as “Eternal Fatalist,” “Three Penny Operator” and “Beautiful Girl,” he would also include gems such as “Little Volcano,” and “The Tame, The Half-Born, The Wild And You,” as added bonuses too.  “The Lowest of the Low are currently in the studio right now – well, not right now – but this week, and we’re wrapping up a record,” he announced.  “We’re very pissed off right now, and it’s coming out in all the [new] songs.”

Ron would share “Midnight Maryanne,” the first of several brand new compositions performed this night at The Mule Spinner.  “Thank you, a world debut!” he stated in appreciation of the applause and love for the tune.  “I’ll probably say that too tomorrow night in Buffalo,” he joked. “Luckily there’s no device that’ll let anybody there know what’s going on here tonight!”    With cries of “I’ll know” from various members of the audience, Ron nodded his appreciation once more, before continuing with the popular “Shakespeare My Butt” track, “Letter From Bilbao.”

Prior to sharing “The Ballad Of Late-Era Capitalism,” another upcoming release, Hawkins would recall a tale from a previous performance of this song.  “Two summers ago I was in Chicago … and decided to go to this place called Skokie … because [it] has a Holocaust museum, and the reason it has a Holocaust museum is because it has the biggest concentration – that’s bad – the biggest conglomeration of Jews and Holocaust survivors outside of Israel,” he shared.  “Back in 1979 or the 80s, the American Nazi Party decided they were going to have a march in Skokie for exactly that reason … but unbeknownst to them, the community was organizing, and a whole bunch of people showed up with bats and pipe, and the Nazi’s didn’t march.  What I took away from that was that when people get together and defend their community, Nazi’s don’t march.  And while I’m not a violent person, I am really for implied violence!”

Performing timeless tracks such as “Genevieve” and “Sliver,” Hawkins would acknowledge the ‘unique location’ of the venue itself immediately following “Little Volcano.”  “[The] first time I came here to The Mule Spinner; I would be lying if I didn’t say that when I came here last year, I got into the neighborhood and was like, ‘There’s no way it’s here, because this is where they bury the bodies,'” he joked.  “It’s gentrifying,” hollered a voice in the room, referencing the on-going changes to the Hamilton downtown.  “I was gentrified when I got here, I gotta tell ya,” Hawkins responded.  “That means what I think it means right?  Like being totally scared?  Gentrified!  Like you stop being a gentleman, that’s how scared you are?”

Those who attended the show last year probably recall the lighthearted comparisons made between this side of Hamilton and Kosovo, as observed by Hawkins. He was certainly on top form when joking once again about his experiences of making a video in the area back in the early 1990s.  And with the strum of his guitar to signal the always popular staple-tune, “Peace And Quiet,” the crowd cheered loudly…..pausing to laugh when Ron sang the first line from Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love A Bad Name” in perfect time with his own piece.  “I just thought I’d see if I can throw you off there,” he added, before knocking out the song that I still consider my all-time favorite Ron Hawkins track.

Following with a non-encore, encore (he attempted to hide behind a speaker), Ron added “City Of Lies” (by request) and “Black Monday,” before wrapping up the show with the timeless hit, “Rosy And Grey.”  Another wonderful evening of music from one of our favorite artists here at Team GDW.  We enjoyed our second annual Ron Hawkins show at The Mule Spinner, and only hope that Winter 2020 allows us the opportunity for the hat-trick.  In the meantime, we only have a few months to wait until the brand new Lowest of the Low album is released, meaning many more good things ahead for fans of Ron Hawkins and co. in 2019.

Ron Hawkins Set List:

  1. Kinda’ The Lonely One
  2. Black
  3. Three Penny Operator
  4. Midnight Maryanne *New Track*
  5. Letter From Bilbao
  6. One Hundred Five
  7. Powerlines
  8. From The Alta Loma Hotel
  9. The Ballad Of Late-Era Capitalism *New Track*
  10. Beautiful Girl
  11. Genevieve
  12. Eternal Fatalist
  13. Sliver
  14. Love And Justice
  15. Little Volcano
  16. The Tame, The Half-Born, The Wild And You
  17. The Barricade *New Track*
  18. Prairie Girl
  19. Peace And Quiet

Encore:

  1. City Of Lies
  2. Black Monday
  3. Rosy And Grey

Visit Skye Wallace’s website.

Visit Ron Hawkins’ website.

Martin Noakes

The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.

Tags from the story
,