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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Ron Sexsmith - a Canadian Troubadour

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Ron Sexmith at he legendary, Los Angeles music venue "The Troubadour."

It's 9:30pm on Friday, February 2nd, and I am outside the legendary, Los Angeles music venue "The Troubadour," waiting to see the somewhat obscure, Canadian, singer/ songwriter, Ron Sexsmith.

Opened in 1957, The Troubadour has a rich, contemporary musical history, helping to launch such greats (earlier in their careers), as Tom Waits, Elton John and James Taylor. A music lover's venue, this legendary site is a medium-sized, intimate space for those who wish to truly listen to music and enjoy a performance that seems as though it is just for them.

It is an uncharacteristically warm night for this time of year and just ahead of me in line is comic actor, Tom Green. I ponder this for a moment, Ron Sexsmith's often melancholy, reflective and sometimes fanciful and dream-like lyrics, coupled with good, old-fashioned, melodic folk-rock, do not strike me as Tom Green's style. However, if the cliche about comics being highly attuned to the sadness in life is true, it would make sense that these compatriots could find their common ground.

The venue is full, literally packed comfortably to the rafters, from the concrete, ground-floor below to the seated, V.I.P. loft above. No matter where you stand in this beer-barn like space, you will have a clear view and solid sound. The low stage contributes greatly to the sense of intimacy, the basic lighting adding to the organic, no-nonsense approach of the venue and the honesty of the artist.

It is not long before a tall and rotund Ron Sexsmith, takes to the stage. Dressed comfortably in jeans, button-down shirt and sports jacket, with unkempt hair - reminiscent of a long haired Will Ferrell -- something seems different about him.

The first time I saw Ron perform was in Sydney, Australia some six years ago followed by another occasion in Sydney, two years later. Both times he was solo and both times he was painfully shy and awkward. Tonight he stands in front of his drummer, bassist and lead guitarist, his acoustic hanging on his front and he is different. He is comfortable and, although still quietly spoken and self-effacing he is clearly, finally at ease with the spotlight.

Forty-two year old Sexsmith was born, Ronald Eldon Sexsmith in St Catherine's, Ontario, growing up around the Niagara Falls area. He currently resides in Toronto. Sexsmith released his first album, "Grand Opera Lane" in 1991 while working as a courier. On the strength of this album, he earned a contract that led to the 1995 release of his self-titled album. He continued releasing records that earned him a strong reputation as a songwriter's songwriter, before releasing his most popular and acclaimed work "Cobblestone Runway," in 2002.

As Ron Sexsmith launches into his first tune, "Former Glory" one of my favorite tracks from his sixth album -- it is obvious that every person in the room is here for nothing more than to listen to each note and each syllable that this man cares to utter. The room is mostly silent, aside from whooping and clapping and cat calling, for the duration of the nearly two hour show. His endearing and unassuming stage persona, lends itself perfectly to the poignant and painfully raw and honest narratives in his music.

Not afraid of audience interaction, Ron encourages patrons to guide him in his set list. Happily taking requests, he allows the stories of his personal journey to weave with the audience who, by way of song choices, are inadvertently telling their stories, sharing their history with his music. After a rousing call for an encore, Ron does not disappoint.

I leave the venue ahead of the crowd and find a dark nook on the street to lurk with a cheeky cigarette and reflect on my experience. As I peer through the window into the main room - now lit up and empty, roadies shifting amplifiers around I see the ever accessible Ron Sexsmith emerge from backstage. Carrying his own bag, he smiles his awkward and uncertain smile and happily chats to those who have gathered around. A big man, he hunches slightly, signing autographs and I know that, in good time, he'll be sitting in the front bar having a beer with whoever happens to want to chat. He's done it before.

How lucky we are to be among men who can make magic.

CHEAP HOTEL

She made her getaway when he stepped out
She took the kids and drove far from their house
She told them this is our home for now
God bless this cheap hotel
When he'd be sweet to her, they'd talk for hours
Then he'd lay right into her then buy her flowers
Her nerves were shattered, her dreams as well
God damn this cheap hotel

They say every soul needs searching
But I just don't know where to begin
Give me something to go on
Last night she hit the ground running
But now another day's dawning

She never saw it coming
And now another day's dawning
Behind the curtain, there may be sun
One thing's for certain, thy will be done
On earth as it is done in hell
God bless this cheap hotel
On earth as it is done in hell,
God bless this cheap hotel


To hear Ron Sexsmith's music, please visit http://www.ronsexsmith.com/index.php



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1 comments on Ron Sexsmith - a Canadian Troubadour

Log In To Vote   Score: 2
By shellbelle on March 01, 2007 at 08:09 pm
Thank you for writing this review! I have been a fan of Ron Sexsmith's for a few years, and I had no idea he came to LA. Your article gave me a good sense of what the show was like, and I appreciate that.
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