Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ron Sexsmith & Two & A Half Hours Of Happiness

Hello friends. Tonight I had the privilege of attending a Ron Sexsmith concert at the Starlight Club in Uptown Waterloo. It was the 3rd time I've seen Ron, all at the same venue. It was great to enjoy the night with my friends Marnie (who I met at my 1st Sexsmith show), Alexandra and Chris.

Ron always has quality acts opening for him. 3 concerts ago it was local musician Peter Elkas, last time it was the superb Meaghan Smith who won best new artist at this year's Juno Awards, and this time it was Winnipeg duo Ash Koley.

Ron always performs a balanced mix of songs from his latest album and songs from his impressive catalogue. Ron, a St. Catherines native, has released 10 solo albums, plus the impressive early effort Grand Opera Lane with his band The Uncool, and a duet album Destination Unknown with drummer/vocalist Don Kerr.

On this night, Ron said that he was still recovering from a lost voice and he sipped on tea all night, but you'd never know there was even the slightest problem. I've seen him 3 times, and I think this was the most impressive of the 3. His voice was bang-on, and he and the band were particularly tight and appearing to have a great time. I'll list off a few of the songs that he performed. May I say that while Ron's music just keeps getting better and better as his career progresses, I think his handwriting is getting worse and worse! I asked one of the band members after the show for the set list taped to the stage, which I now have in my possession, and it's barely legible, and sometimes not even that! Anyways, Ron's newest album is Long Player Late Bloomer, and it has received more publicity and attention than any previous album that I know of. He recently returned from a European media tour. You see, Ron is a highly regarded and praised songwriter from people such as Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, k.d. lang, Elton John, and Sheryl Crow to name a few. But he's not quite the household name around the world, and deserves to be. So this push of his new album seems to be a push to break-through of sorts. And the quality of the album is outstanding. Tonight he performed several songs off of it, including The Reason Why, Believe it When I See It, Love Shines, and Late Bloomer. Older songs that he brought out included Hard Bargain (which he introduced by saying that EmmyLou Harris recently covered it and it's the title track of her just-released album!), Just My Heart Talkin', Wastin' Time, Gold In Them Hills, and Secret Heart (one of my favourites). Ron always puts on a high-quality show.

It was a particularly enjoyable and needed night for me, as the last few weeks have seen some very hard times dealing with persistent illness and lack of employment. A couple of things came to mind as I mellowed out and watched Ron and the band from a table so close to the stage that I could have almost whispered to him between songs and he would have heard me.

The first thing that came to mind as I enjoyed myself for the first time in quite some time is that "Some of us aren't used to being happy." We just aren't. Many of us are weighed down by many things, whether it be lack of money, dysfunctional relationships, shitty jobs, illness, loneliness, etc. And we wonder why it seems like so many people around us are so happy yet we can barely string together 2 minutes of contentment. But when we can find ourselves in an element where we are truly happy, even for a few minutes, it makes such a difference. That's how I felt for awhile tonight watching Ron perform. And you know what? We deserve it. Don't give up my friends, press on. There's Heaven after the Hell, even if you can't see it right now. Another thing is that you don't deserve to go through whatever you're going through alone, you just don't. As hard as it may be, try reaching out to a trusted friend or two. We were meant for relationship and the love that comes with them.

The second thought that came to mind is that it is so important to be present in whatever situation we're in. This seems to be getting harder and harder with the saturation of Blackberries, iPhones, and the need to update to Facebook and Twitter. But if we can stop for a minute and breathe and just be in the moment, forgetting about all the shit that we're dealing with for a moment, we may find moments of true happiness. I felt that a couple of times during Ron's show tonight.

To conclude, again it was a much needed night for me. And it was an excellent show tonight in Waterloo; Ron is always gracious in coming out at the end of the show for a few minutes, so we were able to chat a bit, and get this picture :)

Recommendations: You can read a full bio of Ron Sexsmith on his site right here.

Here are a couple of YouTube videos of 2 songs off the new album Long Player Late Bloomer:

"Believe It When I See It"

"Love Shines"

Other standout albums include Cobblestone Runway and Exit Strategy of the Soul, and all Ron's albums are available through his site or iTunes.