Ron Leary is an artist who is able to encapsulate the blue-collar life of Windsor-Essex County. Dr. Henry Adam Svec is quoted on Leary’s website saying, “driving with Ron Leary down the 401 is like surfing with the Beach Boys,” and no doubt that is true, as Leary’s music just radiates southwestern Ontario. Leary had his start in music at the tender age of six, playing drums for his parents’ country band “The Corn Huskers.” Leary’s early beginnings with country can still be heard in his music today, but his sound had more of a folk feel nowadays. His voice is distinctly Canadian to say the very least, reminiscent of road hockey games, and the general atmosphere of winter in the border city. When listening to Leary’s music it is easy to envision driving by wind turbines and fields of grass and wheat on the way to Point Pelee, stopping for your hot drink of choice at Tim Horton’s. It may sound like a cliché, but it is a feeling that is lost with many other Canadian artists. Being from “the deep south” of Canada, Leary is able to embody a lifestyle that goes without representation all too often locally, with a homegrown, almost patriotic sound. In songwriting, Leary uses his own stories and experiences, and that is what makes his sound particularly Canadian. He does not go out of his way to make “Canadian” music, yet he is still able to capture southwestern Ontario in a way that not too many artists have. We can all relate to his music in a way that is humble, modest, and true.
As a folk artist, Ron Leary is trying to separate himself from some of the assumptions that come along with the genre of “folk,” as it has become as broad a term as genres like “indie,” or even “pop.” Leary is an example of the folk sound being something that is shaped by the artist’s life, and not expectations people have about the sound of the genre. Contemplating his role as an artist, Leary does not think of his art as a “job.” While he works tirelessly on his art, he would be the last person to say that it is all for financial justification. Leary is a believer that small-town artists are able to succeed only if they love what they do, and that may seem obvious; however, for Leary it is about the longevity of one’s love for their art. Leary has been making music since the 90s into the early 2000s, with his first EP being released in 2002. His love for his art has never wavered, and that is what has ultimately made him successful. He finds himself constantly inspired by his roots and surroundings, oftentimes drawing ideas while simply going for a walk by the river.
We had the opportunity to sit down with Ron Leary and discuss everything from his roots as a country musician to his latest album release. As he sipped his coffee and laughed with us about Canadian stereotypes, we listened to his advice and wisdom as well as cautionary tales for younger musicians. Leary is a humble and clever musician who is in the business for only one reason: because it’s what he loves to do. With his trademark side burns and an authentic perspective towards the Ontario music scene, Leary gives us insight into his past, present, and promises of the future.
Canadian folk-hero, or just a guy with a guitar, Ron Leary is an artist that can make one proud of where they’re from. Whether it be Windsor Ontario, or anywhere else in the world.
You can see Ron Leary perform every Tuesday night at the Windsor Beer Exchange.
Listen to the whole interview here:
Image courtesy of The Windsor Star