It’s this time of year that I start thinking about my annual “Best of” compilations and going through my favourite songs & CDs of the year. There have been plenty of good ones, so there’s no shortage of material. I also start looking back on the guests who have appeared live on the program for that compilation. We’ve had some pretty stellar live guests this year, but I was a little bit worried that I wouldn’t have a whole lot for that compilation. I don’t agressively chase interviews & live performers as much as I used to, so there haven’t been as many guests as in some previous years. I didn’t want to let you down, though, so I’ve been hard at work securing some GREAT live guests in the near future, including this week’s Tell the Band to Go Home, which promises to be one of the best of the year.
First up is a guy who is quite honestly the most important songwriter in my life, Ron Hawkins of The Lowest of the Low. I live and breathe great songwriters and have done so, ever since I heard Ron’s songs. I was already a big music fan, but I had no idea how powerful a truly great song could be until I heard an album called Shakespeare My Butt in 1992 (at least, I think it was ’92…). The melodies and the music fit right in with the stuff I loved on the radio, but there was something about Hawkins’ lyrics that seemed like they were written for me. I understood them. I felt like I lived some of them. I laughed, I was moved, but most of all, I was motivated to hear more great music that I wasn’t hearing on the radio. That band has continued to be a cornerstone of my musical existence, and I suppose they always will. In 2005 I was lucky enough to have Ron & Stephen Stanley from the band come into the studio, and it was a very intimidating experience, but one that turned out to be one of my favourite interviews of all time. They were intelligent, interesting, and I don’t think I embarassed myself too much. They even liked the interview, so much so that they took a copy and have several times suggested that when they eventually get around to rereleasing Shakespeare My Butt, our interview will be included as a bonus (the rumour mill is buzzing that it will happen soon… I won’t hold my breath.) The Low took another long hiatus a couple of years ago, but Ron Hawkins is not one to retire. He’s been active and making some of the best music of his career. His new album 10 Kinds of Lonely is a gem. It’s a more country/rootsy kind of affair, but it contains the same lyrical genius that changed my life so long ago. Hawkins describes it as “Songs about dead-ends, deadbeats and deadmen… Tunes about whiners, piners and miners…Ditties about dust bowls, watering holes and lost souls…” and what more could you want from a collection of songs. Ron Hawkins makes his long, long awaited return to Winnipeg next Saturday, opening for the legendary Billy Bragg. I’m very excited to be speaking with Ron on the phone this Sunday about it all. Please join me.
And he’s just the opening act. Following that, joining us live, IN-STUDIO after that is one of the most exciting, interesting, original live bands in this country or any other, Sunparlour Players. Those guys came to our attention a few years ago when they opened for another band that fits that description, Elliott BROOD at the West End. Sunparlour Players get a lot of comparisons to the BROOD (they’re both trios, both primarily acoustic, both write some pretty country songs about death & other touching topics, and both can REALLY rock out live). However, don’t go see this band expecting to hear Elliott BROOD v.2.0, beause they are an entity unto themselves. There’s something so powerful about leader Andrew Penner’s vocals and Dobro guitar, and drummer Rosie is one of the most entertaining stickmen I’ve ever come across. Multi instrumentalist Dennis rounds out the trio in fine style. All three are expected to join us for some songs & conversation this Sunday. Trust me folks, this band is the real deal. Get your tickets NOW to see them Dec. 6 at Folk Exchange, because after they play live on the radio this Sunday, the word will be out and the rush for tickets will be on.
And that’s just Sunday. We’ve got even more guests lined up for Thursday on Steel Belted Radio, so mark your calendars, set your alarms, do what you have to do, but don’t miss these episodes.
New music, considerations for Best Of lists, upcoming shows, classics, stories, etc. etc., you’ll get it all this Sunday, so tune in!