Vancouver singer-songwriter Chris Ronald calls his latest album “a labour of love,” and he’s looking forward to sharing that labour with local music fans this weekend.
Ronald will celebrate the release of his third album, Timeline, Saturday, March 22 at the Willow Street Café in Chemainus.
Ronald emigrated from his native England to Canada in 2002, and his music has been described as a meeting of British roots and North American folk, with detectable influences including Neil Young, Paul McCartney, and Don McLean, to name just a few. In live performances, Ronald also draws on his abilities as a storyteller and multi-instrumentalist who plays guitar, harmonica and ukulele to deliver a show that can be enjoyed by all ages, according to his biography.
Ronald worked with producer and multi-instrumentalist John MacArthur Ellis (Jeremy Fisher, The Be Good Tanyas, Barney Bentall) on the album, which was released earlier this month.
Ronald says the album’s 11 tracks range from a real stripped-down singer-songwriter feel to a full-band sound.
“It’s roots, but it goes off on a couple tracks to a bit of country, a bit of bluegrass; it’s kind of exploring in that folk/roots genre,” he said. “They’re songs that were written in the last two years that are reflecting on real life changes.”
The song “Twenty Little Stars” is dedicated to the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting, while “The Busker” is all about Ronald’s experiences busking.
“This album was funded 100 per cent by singing and busking over the last year or so,” said Ronald, adding with a laugh: “I even paid some of my session musicians with a $5 bill right from my busking.”
“It’s a labour of love,” he said.
Timeline is dedicated to Ronald’s parents, who are still back in the U.K., for all their love and encouragement over the years. The album is available through Bandcamp and iTunes.
“It feels good,” Ronald says of actually having a finished album in his hands. “It’s like there’s always some mountain to climb. There are all these mountains to climb to get it in its physical form, and then you realize there are all these other mountains to climb to get it out there. I’m sending it out for reviews, and I’ve dabbled in songwriting contests. It’s a relief that it’s actually done, but it’s kind of daunting that we might not get this into the hands of many people — but not for lack of trying.
“But at the end of the day, it was a real goal of mine, to work with a top producer and some top players and do something that’s the absolute best I could do. I kind of made the decision two years ago that music had to play a much larger part in my life, and this is basically the culmination of that decision.”
When Ronald brings his Timeline tour to the Willow Street Café on Saturday, March 22, he will be joined by Bryon Thompson from Mill Bay, who is a member of the Bryon Clayton Thomas trio.
“He’s a really good dobro and mandolin player and has a really great voice,” said Ronald, who met Thompson at a Victoria Folk Music Society retreat.
Thompson will play an opening set at the Willow Street Café and then join Ronald for a few tunes.
Ronald is excited to perform in Chemainus, as he’s built up a relationship with Willow Street Café owner Phil Mavis during past tours to Vancouver Island.
“This is one of their first attempts at doing a three-course meal with a show,” he said. “They’re really supportive of the arts and see the value of live music.”
Dinner starts at 6 p.m. Tickets are $30 in advance for a three-course meal and music or $35 at the door. Tickets for the music only are $10, and they can be purchased at the Willow Street Café. Call 250-246-2434 for dinner reservations.