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Ron Sexsmith in-store mini-poster

7 March 2011

Store date: 24 January 2003

Ron Sexsmith always seemed like a small person to me (small in physical stature, that is – as a songwriting talent, I’ve always considered him, well, monumental). Turns out, the guy is fairly tall. And he’s much friendlier and warmer than all of those dour publicity photos would have you think.

This was one of those in-stores that made me nervous beforehand, for I selfishly pushed to do it to get closer to one of my musical idols. These events could generally go one of two ways: either the artist and ample number of attendees have a friendly exchange of music and good will, or the store owner expends several beads of sweat apologizing to the artist for the poor turnout. Thankfully, there was a good-sized crowd – about half the store was filled. Ron was happy. So was I.

Ron was so happy, in fact, that he did a generous, unheard-of, remarkable thing. After he played the first song of his set (a song from his then-current and, thus, promotable album, Cobblestone Runway), he paused, spoke a few words, and asked if anyone had a song they wanted to hear him sing. The place erupted with song titles. Ron just stood there, grinning in his Ron Sexsmith way, soaking them all in. When the chorus died down, he announced that he’d just heard so many requests and he’d hate to disappoint anyone, so he was going to do a handful of them. One from each of his six albums. And, just to be fun about it, he would play them in chronological order. And he did.

I wish I could tell you which songs he played. The truth is, I only remember the one he played at my request, which was “Lebanon, Tennessee.” Somewhere, I have the set list written down but, until I find it and post it, just imagine Ron Sexsmith standing in front of you with his guitar, singing all of your favorite songs directly to you in that sonorous croon of his. It was magical.*

I was performing double-duty, as nearly always, at this event, as both fan and store owner. As the store owner, I was not only responsible for herding, feeding and watering the talent, but also for making sure that our paltry sound system amplified them well and accurately. Ron was just a guy and a guitar, so his two-input microphone requirements were minimal. However, about halfway through his set, I began to hear an intermittent clicking sound during the songs. I panicked, quietly. The clicking sound would stop, then start again. I looked around me and the blissful looks on the folks nearby indicated to me that they either hadn’t heard it or didn’t care about it. The sound was beginning to drive me nuts, until I noticed that the sound wasn’t coming from the speakers at all, but from somewhere behind me. I turned around. As I was standing on the outskirts of the crowd, there was no one standing there. And then I looked down. On the floor, behind me, sitting cross-legged or “Indian-style” as we used to call it when kids, was Ron’s travelling companion, Colleen. She was very peacefully knitting, needles occasionally clicking together, making what I now considered a wholly appropriate musical and domesticated counterpoint to his songs. She looked up at me, smiled. It was a perfect fortuitous moment. And all was well.

* And, lo and behold, on November 18th, 2013, I unearthed Ron’s set list. It was buried – of all places – in a text file on an old hard drive. Here it is:

  • For A Moment
  • These Days
  • Former Glory
  • Disappearing Act
  • Lebanon, Tennessee
  • Thinking Out Loud
  • Right About Now
  • Just My Heart Talking
  • Gold In Them Hills
  1. Tish permalink

    What a great memory.

  2. Ken Lenoir permalink


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