Ron Hynes
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Ron Hynes

Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE | AFM

Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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"Ron Hynes Stealing Genius CD Review"

Ron Hynes Stealing Genius (Borealis Records)
Considered by many to be Canada’s finest living songwriter, Ron Hynes returns with a collection of songs that will appeal both to long-time admirers and newly found friends.
With a rich voice, the Newfoundland-born and based songwriter continues to find impressive ways to investigate not only his home province, but the experiences of common people in special ways. Borrowing from the writings of several poets and writers, the stealing genius element one presumes, Hynes has woven his own perspective to create memorable songs that breathe new life into the folk tradition.
Hynes extends his reach far with these 13 songs, burnished as they are by the stories of his people. Lullabies are presented alongside a ballad celebrating Terry Sawchuk, and a tale of historical resettlement is found alongside minor key ancestral balladry.
Is there a “Sonny’s Dream” or “Cryer’s Paradise” here? Perhaps not, but that isn’t to suggest that his latest collection doesn’t have memorable tunes. “My Father’s Ghost” perhaps comes closest to being hyped as an instant classic, with a spectral visitor making regular appearances in the homestead near the sea. In a similar vein, “Le Coeur de la Mer” laments what the ocean doesn’t always return. Each word is a treasure to be savoured.
The coward who shot Mr. Howard gets a song of his own in “Judgment;” justifying his actions with “Still it’s better to be famous for the wrong I done tonight, than to be nobody all my life,” Robert Ford isn’t portrayed in a positive light haunted though he may be by his actions. Paul Mills, who also produced the album, contributes spunky banjo to the song.
“All for the USA” and “Home from the USA/Yanks” highlight an aspect of Newfoundland economic migrations I hadn’t previously known, while “House” gives the family home, broken down as it may be, its due.
Hynes is less successful when he wears his heart on his sleeve, although “What If I Stayed” is more memorable than other similarly-styled songs.
Beyond all of this, “Sawchuk” may be the finest hockey-themed song I’ve heard. From the opening line (“His father was Ukrainian, he was born Canadian”) Hynes and poet Randall Maggs capture the mystery of an era of hockey I know largely from the backs of dog-eared O-Pee-Chee cards. The near-mythical status of a Sawchuk is elevated in every word and note. Only Hynes ever done that, if I may.
Stealing Genius strengthens the rich recorded legacy of Ron Hynes.
- (Nov 2010)

"RON HYNES - Stealing Genius CD Review"

Ron Hynes, the pride of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, is, without question, one of Canada’s greatest singer-songwriters – a writer whose genius can be found in decades worth of great songs.

Ron calls his new album Stealing Genius because most of its songs are inspired by specific works written by several poets and novelists, mostly from Newfoundland along with one American. In some songs, Ron actually gives the inspiring writer a co-writing credit.

The album opens with “Blood and Bones,” a song inspired by What They Wanted, a novel about a family’s resettlement by Donna Morrissey. It’s a familiar story that Ron sings about: a family forced to leave their home for someplace new because the work is no longer there. In this case, presumably, it’s the local fishery that’s no longer viable as “the ocean died like late night embers in the stove.” Ron’s lyrics and his singing seem to combine poignancy with regret and a hint of anger.

Morrissey’s book, as well as Michael Crummy’s The Wreckage, inspired “My Father’s Ghost,” a song that is both a remembrance from long ago of discovering a father’s death and a brilliantly drawn contemporary portrait of a lonely life in sea coast village.

In “House,” inspired by Stan Dragland’s Stormy Weather: Foursomes, Ron sings about an old house as the shell for the lost love that no longer lives within its walls.

“I Love You More Than God” and “Love and Hunger” are two stunning love songs based on poems by Des Walsh and which are reminiscent of the great romantic poets.

One of my favourite songs in the set is "30 For 60," inspired by a poem by Al Pittman, that's a powerful portrait of a man, no longer young, damning his regrets.

One song that takes its inspiration from an American book is “Judgment,” a song based on Ron Hansen’s The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford. Ron sings from the perspective of Ford trying to rationalize his act.

As a singer, Ron knows exactly how to communicate the essence of the songs to his listeners and the arrangements, featuring such musicians as Paul Mills (who also produced the album), Alec Fraser, Tom Leighton and Burke Carroll, frame the songs almost perfectly.

Stealing Genius represents the finest set of original songwriting to be released in Canada this year.
--Mike Regenstreif
- Mike Regenstreif, Folk Roots/Folk Branches - Oct. 2010

"Ron Hynes (RON HYNES CD Review)"

Ron Hynes – Ron Hynes (Borealis BCD 175)

Wasn’t NAFTA supposed to take care of this? Here we are in the states, and can we get a show of hands for who knows who Ron Hynes is? Thought so. Tsk. The old folkie in the back remembers a song called “Sonny’s Dream” from the 70’s, and the rest of you kinda think you saw his name in the credits of a couple of records you own…Well, time for us South of the Border types to fix this situation. Ron Hynes has been deservedly racking up awards, in Canada, for years, for his various indie releases, and now that he’s on a major label, us ‘mericans can find out why. The first chord of this album goes right through your chest , and the grip on your gut never lets go. That opener is called “My Name Is Nobody” and it’s powerfully affecting as anything ever written, an instant, lonesome classic. The CDs next cut is the radio release, “Where Does Love Go Wrong” an obvious poke at mass-market appeal but a darn sight better than the usual She Done Lef ‘ tearjerkers. Hynes is both a creator of powerful inner images and a tuneful raconteur, and in a canny move, some of the album is from a live show, where he can get away with a capella sing-alongs ( the jolly “DirtPoor”) and frighteningly revealing discourses (the ode to detox “Dry”). From start to finish, this is a major album by a major artist – We just need to bring him out of the Great White North.

Tom Petersen - The Victory Review (Seattle), Nov. 2006
- Tom Petersen - The Victory Review (Seattle), Nov 2006

"RON HYNES Rekindling Calgary Flames"

Photo: courtesy of Cal King

It’s a Friday night early in the playoffs, and you might think Calgary’s centre of gravity is the Saddledome, where the Flames are playing. As far as the crowd at theRocky Mountain Folk Club is concerned, you would be wrong.

At the Rocky Mountain Folk Club, Ron Hynes is playing. As he climbs the stage with a wave and a “Hello, Calgary!” he persuades us that the city’s centre is right here and that a different theory of gravity has drawn us to it.

Ron Hynes is one of a few performers who can pull a thread in the social fabric of Alberta that makes the Newfoundland and Maritime diaspora appear. When he wonders if there are any Flames fans, you can sense the audience’s divided loyalties in the split second pause before they commit with a knee jerk roar of support. Early in the evening, a show of hands indicates who is from Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, PEI, and New Brunswick. Maybe a third of us confess the truth and await reconciliation.

“What are you doing up here, then?” Ron scolds. “Taking jobs away from the poor Canadians, are you?”

For the first time in nearly three decades of operation, the Club has pushed back the folding doors that divide the room to accommodate extra tables and chairs. It is a cinder block bunker that recalls makeshift coffee houses from “back in the day.” The audience and volunteers, though greying, are still enthusiastic about preserving and performing traditional music.

The music they have come to hear tonight exemplifies the singer-songwriter tradition that emerged at the time of the Club’s founding. Ron starts with “My Name is Nobody” and the austere walls of this community centre recede into the darkness as the song weaves its authority strands of personal experience and selfless humility.

His first set is drawn almost entirely from new songs. A little unorthodox, perhaps, to steer away from establishing common ground with old favourites, but Ron gives no indication of the risk. He is these songs and plays them as if he has no choice. The audience knows the words already even though these new songs were released only a month ago on his new self-titled CD. We are ready to support him as he leans into the refrains like he’s walking against the wind on Gower Street, and we hold on as he soars again and again with, “I am still living with this fear/But I am still here.” We all are still here with Ron and he could have sung those dozen words for the rest of the evening and we would have left satisfied. There is a conviction in his delivery now that seems new or at least newly-mastered. It is the growl-to-whisper range of his voice that draws and holds us together.

Listening to songs like “Boy from Old Perlican” or the re-worked version of his older “Movie Scene,” it is clear that much of Ron’s repertoire is about displacement – economic, historical, and cultural. Certainly, as a crowd from the east coast, much of the room understands the realities of economic displacement, and it comes as no surprise when he tells us that even the classic “Sonny’s Dream” was penned while traveling between Calgary and Edmonton. Ron, too, makes part of his living working on the Mainland.

The economic needs that force relocation mask another way that we are shifted from the centre of our lives. Many of the characters in Ron’s ballads convey cultural displacement: they experience things in the subjunctive, as if they were living in movies or the plots of television programs. They make their way in the world but draw on the impersonal expertise proffered by clichés and country songs. The labour of Ron’s art is in bridging the emptiness of this cultural dislocation, this sense that our lives aren’t quite real unless they are read through the stories and sentiments of popular culture. During the intermission, I chat with a couple who came from Quebec 25 years ago. Ron’s eulogy for Gene MacLellan, “Godspeed,” was their first introduction to his music. It “came at the right time,” they tell me. I don’t probe this palpable loss. It doesn’t matter, and it doesn’t matter that when Ron performs the song later at their request, they are surprised to learn it is about MacLellan. For this couple, Ron’s words have wrapped a personal experience into his melody and carried them forward into the centre of this time.

Ron’s voice embodies a conflicted sense of longing and loss. Chanting “It won’t come back again” when singing “1962,” Ron charts our dislocations in history. Whether the loss is an enchanted moment of early love, the tragedy of a maritime disaster, or the poisonous and false ecstasy left behind in detox and rehab, the words aren’t naïve statements of nostalgia. Ron can conjure the emotions underlying such moments but does so with the solitary awareness that living in the present always means living with the dislocation of lost time.

There is a polish to the stories Ron tells when he introduces his songs. Not the gloss or sheen - Newfoundland Quarterly 2006

"Like A Movie Scene - Newfoundland's Songwriting Legend, Ron Hynes"

Newfoundland's Songwriting Legend, Ron Hynes pours his troubles and triumphs into his most personal album yet.

By Kevin Kelly.

They say the eyes are the window to the soul. When you look at the cover of Ron Hynes’ self-titled CD, his latest, you don’t see his eyes,
as a stark, almost chalk-like outline of his face shields them from the
viewer. However, you don’t need to see the eyes of “The man of a thousand songs” to see his soul. The window to his soul is through the music he writes and performs.

When Hynes first saw the cover of the new album, a dark outline of one
of his pictures taken at the LSPU Hall by Erick Walsh and digitized and
altered by Clem Curtis, he really liked it. “There’s something going on
in the photograph, and just like the music, there’s a little soul
baring going on,” he says. “You can look through those dark, jagged
orbs and inside of that, are these songs.”

Over the years, his songs have become the soundtrack to many Newfoundlanders, both here and abroad, and it can be argued that he is
this province’s greatest songwriter.

It’s hard to believe that 30 years ago, a tune called Sonny’s Dream
became an unofficial Newfoundland (and Irish) anthem covered by many of
the world’s biggest artists. Seventeen years later, Atlantic Blue
became the symbol of sadness we all felt at the loss of the Ocean
Ranger, and the 84 men whose lives were lost 24 years ago.

The latter song has received a resurgence lately, as ECMA winners The
Cottars have recorded the tune, for their new album, Forerunner. Hynes
was compared to Leonard Cohen by one of the young members of the group
to which Hynes responds, “I am but a pebble. Leonard Cohen is the

Now Hynes is back with a new album, with an official release at the
LSPU Hall, Mar. 4. It’s a soundtrack to his own movie scene of life
that has seen success and struggle. Parts of the album were recorded at the Hall last April in an intimate setting. During the show, Hynes gave it his all, and you could sense during the performance that it was almost therapy for him.

On this new project, Hynes, now 55, is at his most introspective, and
his most personal. His new album is a tough listen, and many will say the CD contains the darkest songs he’s ever written. One of those is Dry. A song written about his own personal struggle with drugs, his voice is stark, feeble, at points almost to a whisper. He relates about heading back into the darkened alleys, “where the disappointed go.” Hynes considers the song one of the best he’s ever written, and you can see why. It shows him at his most vulnerable, his “fall from grace” revealed in song.

He’s reluctant to talk about that period of his life, but he says the
personal revelations contained within the album “wasn’t a clear decision.”

“The songs are based on my living through these past couple of years,”
Hynes tells The Herald, sipping on a beverage at his usual downtown
watering hole, The Rose and Thistle. “It’s not like you sit down and decide you’re going to write something thematic,” Hynes states. “I’ve never worked that way. The ideas come from things that are happening in my life.”

Another of those personal tunes is The Mother Who Bore You In Pain
(Dark Angel) that came out of a comment his mother made to him a couple
of years ago during the time he “had to go away to make myself well.”
She had said to him, “Do it for me, do it for the mother that bore you
in pain.”

“She actually said that,” he recollects. “When I hung up the phone, I
just thought, ‘My God, there’s a song.” It’s probably no surprise then, that the album is dedicated to his mother, Mary Ellen.

Another darker tune was Carry This Cross. He says the song was inspired by his “fall from grace” but it has a universal appeal. “I think everybody would like someone to carry their cross for a while,” he says.

Despite some of the dark songs included on the album, there are others
that have a lighter feel. Three of the songs come from tunes that have been sitting around with Hynes for a while. Movie Scene was originally featured on the Wonderful Grand Band’s first album back in the 1970s. Sorry Lori was originally recorded by Terry Kelly, while Piccadilly Sand Farewell was inspired by a melody that late fiddler Emile Benoit had written many years ago and was used on the WGB television show.

“I didn’t want to do a completely dark record because I went through a
serious fall from grace and struggled to come back up,” Hynes admits.
“I wanted a lighter side to the album too.” There is even a love song for children called TigerLily, co-written with his daughter, Lily.

The album was produced by Paul Mills, who had helmed Get Back Change,
and a guy who Hynes has been familiar with a long time. Hynes says
making the record wasn’t difficult.

“There was some worry that there would be s - Newfoundland Herald – March 5-11, 2006

"Ron Hynes - What People Are Saying..."

"Arguably the greatest singer songwriter of our generation"... "This was Hynes in his prime, his voice strong and fresh, his songs, as always, trenchantly simple but full of metaphor and irony and the sharpness of observation that has made him the poet laureate of hard living." Stephen Pedersen, Halifax Chronicle Herald, August 12, 2007

"The first chord of this album goes right through your chest , and the grip on your gut never lets go. That opener is called “My Name Is Nobody” and it’s powerfully affecting as anything ever written, an instant, lonesome classic...From start to finish, this is a major album by a major artist – We just need to bring him out of the Great White North. " Tom Petersen, The Vicory Review, Seattle

"I've been listening to the new Ron Hynes CD. I'm blown away by the virtuosity of Ron's voice, the diverse emotions that each of the songs evoked and have such respect for the man who produced such a gem. All I can say to Ron Hynes is BRAVO!! " Lynne Foster, SOCAN

"Yet another collection of incredible songs from the master"
Paul Kennedy, Seaside FM

"Ron Hynes is one of our greatest storytellers. He just happens to have been born with a beautiful voice. Every song is a novel. How can it be Ron Hynes just gets better? Just listen". Shelagh Rogers, Sounds Like Canada, CBC Radio

"Four songs on the new CD were recorded live ...The performances reveal Hynes at the peak of form, kinetically attuned to his hometown audience, in need of nothing more than his powerful narratives, soaring voice and wry humour. Their inclusion on this landmark recording makes it indispensable." Greg Quill, Toronto Star

"...a champion songwriter. 'My Name is Nobody' and 'Dry', from Hynes' latest disc, are cases in point...the songs are spare, harrowing and clear-eyed. They are also intensely immediate...and resonate long after the tracks end." Patrick Langston, Ottawa Citizen

"a majestic body of work” Peter North, Edmonton Journal

"Literary, brooding, dark, and brilliant: All words that only begin to describe Ron Hynes' latest recording. " Radio UPEI

“Ron, hands-down is the best songwriter in Canada.” Larry Le Blanc, Billboard Magazine

"He's an elegant storyteller, a tender balladeer, a chronicler of brutal hard-luck yarns, a raging cynic and possesses an earnest, honest voice that draws the listener in." Greg Quill, Toronto Star

"Hynes is one of the best folk songwriters living today, in the same league as Dylan and Bruce Springsteen." Jim Scarff, Berkley California

"Ron's the real thing." Lorne Hammond, Curator of History at the Royal BC Museum

"Ron Hynes is a superior tunesmith. He never seems at a loss for just the right lyrical or melodic hook." Doug Gallant, The Guardian, PE

"It would be fair to say that Ron, more than any other artist, has written the soundtrack of this province over the past three decades." Russell Bowers,CBC (Newfoundland)

"He's not just the Man Of A 1000 Songs; he's the man of a treasure chest full of gems - timeless, brilliant, classic works of art that celebrate simple everyday events in the lives of common men" Frank Davies, Founder - Canadian Songwriter Hall of Fame

"What can I say- Ron was superb! To see him in action…is to witness music royalty in the flesh - I don't think anyone can touch him!" Beverly Hardy, Mgr of Operations, Songwriters Assn. of Canada

Contact: Lynn Horne Marketing & Media Relations (902)-465-3763
- Various Quotes

"Ron Hynes "Stealing Genius" CD review by Bob Mersereau"

By Bob Mersereau...aired on CBC Radio Shift in N.B.

Newfoundlanders are pretty intense about their culture, as well they should be. Isolated for centuries, they kept proud traditions, in pretty much everything. And each aspect is unique. You can point to literature, music, story-telling, industry, language, visual arts, theatre... and you'll find a strong and vibrant community, with roots that go back generations, and modern practitioners who embrace the old while moving bravely forward. Also, they are interested in each other's art forms. Musicians work in theatre, actors celebrate writers, it's a cross-pollenization.

So, it's no surprise at least that one of the great Newfoundland artists is paying tribute to another school in a new album. And he's doing it in a completely new way. It's a project called Stealing Genius, by the beloved Ron Hynes. With the title, Hynes acknowledges that he's borrowing some choice bits to create the new songs. What he's done is write a collection of songs inspired by some of Newfoundland's best writers and poets. He's taken their works and been inspired by the topics and words, and gone off to craft his latest tracks. And, instead of lifting the topics, he's fully admitted the theft, in fact co-crediting some of them as songwriters on the project, although at no time did any of them sit down with Ron and actually write to fit his work. So you get tracks inspired by the likes of Stan Dragland, Donna Morrissey, Michael Crummey, Des Walsh, and Al Pittman.

Now, this is a little more complicated than it sounds, although it sounds pretty tough as it is. It wasn't just a question of Ron grabbing lyrics and writing music to them, or turning prose into rhyming couplets. Instead, he was mostly taking inspiration, sometimes even just a feeling from a work, and being affected and moved to writing by it. In only a couple of cases did similar words from poems or stories show up in the songs themselves. The topics range from universal to particularly Newfoundlandish to specific, non-Newfoundland topics, but with a distinct Newfoundland viewpoint and slant. One of the best shall go down as one of our great hockey-themed songs. Sawchuck was inspired by a work by Randall Maggs, called Night Work: The Terry Sawchuk Poems. While there are a few different pieces in this, the title work was a tribute to the Hall of Fame goalie Sawchuk, the man who changed the net forever, both with his skill and his first use of the face mask. Hynes' song Sawchuk is a great telling of his life story, and makes a fine addition to such numbers as Stompin' Tom's The Hockey Song and The Pursuit of Happiness's Gretzky Rocks.

Elsewhere Hynes tackles love and death, family and home. That family connection, and the physical family home feature strongly in a number of pieces here, from cousins to parents to children to spouses. Family can be everything to someone from Newfoundland, and has long been a theme in Hynes work. Here he has been led to some of his greatest material, and that's saying a lot of the man who has always touched that part of our hearts. From families having to move to death and tragedy to brilliant and soul-stirring love, it's full of words that will affect you deeply. It has done that for me.

So, no matter what Hynes is suggesting, he's no theif. As has always been accepted and promoted in Newfoundland, it's one artist celebrating others, and creating something new and deep from it. Let's hear some of that intensity on this piece, which have about the strongest declaration of love I have ever heard. It is written from the poem of the same name by Des Walsh, who Hynes calls the Johnny Cash of Newfoundland poetry. It's called I Love You More Than God.
- CBC Radio New Brunswick Broadcast Oct. 20, 2010

"Ron Hynes' Triple Achievement"

Ron Hynes, the Dean of Atlantic Canada's performing songwriters, has had an amazing year so far in 2006. Along with releasing a stunning, self-titled new album on Borealis Records, the St. John's-born musician has seen his first songbook published (titled, unsurprisingly, Ron Hynes' Songbook Volume One). To cap it all off, the versatile singer--who also acts in on stage and in motion pictures--has just been given a Lifetime Achievement Award from the St. John's Folk Arts Council, which will be delivered at a celebration in Bannerman Park in the Newfoundland Capital on August 5th.

In the three years since his last album, Ron Hynes has been on a personal and professional roller coaster ride. This winter and spring, the intrepid songster could be found on many regional and national media outlets telling his story of a life-and-death battle with controlled substances that ended with a hefty investment of time at a rehab clinic.

With help from friends such as actor/television host Mary Walsh and publicist/manager Lynn Horne, Ron Hynes won the battle with his various demons to emerge stronger than ever. His new album offers ample proof, with a clutch of songs dealing directly with his figurative trial by fire.

The second-last track, for example--entitled Dry--confronts those substance-abuse issues squarely and directly, with admirable honesty and forthrightness. Tunes like Carry That Cross,My Name Is Nobody and Your Mother Who Bore You In Pain also speak to the situation, but in a more poetic and reserved manner.

The rest of the material on the new album, however, is no less engrossing. The 14 tunes range from personal confessions to unaccompanied complaints to caustic waltzes to intricate third person narratives. The result is one of Ron Hynes' strongest collections ever, with the musician at the top of his form on both studio and live tracks.

Mixing sing-a-long traditional folk influences with more introverted singer-songwriter stances, the Ferryland-raised recording artist neatly balances the enduringly traditional with the brightly contemporary, making for a fresh and immediate sound. Hyne's sonic palette throughout the album is austere--there's only a few lushly arranged tunes--leaving the basis of the musical texture on the album built on Hynes' supple single voice along with his lightly strummed acoustic guitar.

A few touches of fiddle, keyboards and--on a few tracks--bass, drums and electric lead guitar rarely ever get in the way of the man's astute and concentrated writing style. Blending bits of humour with his usual poetic observations, the Newfoundland musician sparks his songs with a combination of pointed passion and quizzical appreciations.

It's as if someone boiled down the East Coast viewpoint and way of life into concise, compressed three-to-six minute blasts of earnest, earthy rootsiness, and then delivering each item with a maximum of compassion, humanity and humour.

We'd expect nothing less from the man who cut his teeth working with CODCO and, in 1976, wrote the instant classic Sonny's Dream. It's a song that has been recorded hundreds of times and now serves as Ireland's unofficial Wedding Anthem. A Newfoundland Film Crew even went so far as to document one of Hynes' trips to the Emerald Isle for the CTV Network in order to witness his song in action at various marriage ceremonies across the pond.

Thirty years after penning Sonny's Dream, Ron Hynes is going stronger than ever.

For more information about Ron Hynes' various artistic activities, check out his rich and fascinating website at
© Ron Foley Macdonald

Author's Biography Ron Foley Macdonald is a freelance writer and film programmer who has worked The National Film Board, The CBC, and Atlantic Film Festival. He is currently writing theatre reviews for The Daily News.

- Ron Foley Macdonald -

"Spirited songsmith"

Hynes part of Songwriters’ Circle on Thursday


RON HYNES is an open songbook. He’s always making entries in it. Like the time in Churchill Falls where he wrote Where Do You Get Off?

"I was in a hotel room, and it was two o’clock in the morning," he wrote about the song, which appeared on his Cryer’s Paradise CD. "Somebody said it on TV. It caught me at the right moment. I turned the TV off, wrote the phrase down, and wrote the song in 20 minutes."

The memo is reproduced in Songs of Ron Hynes, Vol. 1, his first songbook published last December, with music, lyrics and notes to songs from his first two albums, Cryer’s Paradise (1993) and Face to the Gale (1996).

It speaks to his songwriting style.
Many of his best songs, he said while passing through Halifax on his way to Annapolis Royal two weeks ago, were written in even less time than that, although others, like the unforgettable Atlantic Blue (inspired by the 1982 sinking of the Ocean Ranger oil platform with the loss of 84 lives during a ferocious Valentine’s Day storm) took him one day to write after six years thinking about it.

Godspeed, his unforgettable tribute to Gene MacLellan (Snowbird, Put Your Hand in the Hand), he wrote in 10 minutes. "I was at a songwriter’s conference with Ian Tyson and Ron Forbes and others, and I tried to say something about Gene. I said ‘Godspeed’, wrote the word down and had the entire lyric in 10 minutes. I excused myself, went to my bedroom and the song came," Hynes said.

Hynes is back in town this week, appearing on Thursday night’s Songwriter Circle in Casino Nova Scotia, along with Susan Crowe, Lennie Gallant and host Bruce Guthro.

His seventh and latest album, the self-titled Ron Hynes, released at the 2006 ECMA Conference in Charlottetown in February, has been gaining momentum. The songs are new and four of them — My Name Is Nobody, Carry This Cross, The Mother Who Bore You In Pain (Dark Angel) and Dry bear searing witness to the alcohol and cocaine addiction which almost ended his career two years ago.

"They were written while I was kicking cocaine addiction during 90 days at Bellwood, August to October 2004," he said. When asked if he was free of addiction now, he responded grimly, with the kind of honesty that makes his songs unforgettable, "Once an addict, always an addict. You have to take it one day at a time."

It’s a statement of faith, an aspiration to change your life that has to be renewed daily, a keystone of addiction recovery programs.

"My fall from grace and recovery have gained more publicity for me," he said. "Sometimes these things get to be media obsessions: ‘How did he look, sound, behave?’ I had very little patience at that time. I was bothered by people not listening."

Hynes grew up in Ferryland, Newfoundland, about 50 kilometres south of St. John’s. He remembers summers at Long Beach near Cape Race with his grandmother and his uncle Sonny. "Probably 300 ships went down near there, including the Titanic. We call it The Atlantic Graveyard," Hynes said.

"Sonny was so in love with song. He had an old radio with cobalt batteries. We would listen to Johnny Cash, Lefty Frizell, Hank Williams, Marty Robinson. We fished for trout. We talked about the songs, I became obsessed. I knew then what I wanted to be. My parents were frightened."

University didn’t change his mind. A failed university student, Hynes said, he became a DJ, learned to play guitar, acted in local commercials, and continued to write, which he had been doing while still a boy, always encouraged by his Uncle Sonny.

In 1976, Hynes wrote Sonny’s Dream, a song so evocative that few of the millions of people who know it by heart today can believe it isn’t a traditional folk song.

A line in the chorus, ("And your daddy’s a sailor who never came home") echoes his own life. "My old man was in the first 200 to volunteer for England to fight Germany (Second World War)," he said.

Hynes himself became the man who never came home. "I was never around home," he said. "I have four children, three grand-children and two ex-wives. My children were all grown and gone while I was on tour."

Hynes has a house in the Battery section of St. John’s, a "footprint" as he calls it, with a panorama of the harbour and the city outside his front window.

But he’s seldom home even now. "The road’s home," he said, only half joking. "I still love it. You arrive, check in to a hotel, make a mess and check out." Then, more seriously, "But I have to tour to sell records."

His two favourite things to do are what they have always been since childhood: writing songs and troutin’. "You just stand, troll and don’t think about concerts or Revenue Canada," he said.

However he never knows when the muse will visit him. "I have great faith in the muse — when she comes you have to grab it right away, because she’s fickle. She may not come back if you ignore her."

It isn’t easy to - Halifax Herald Sept 2006

"Ron Hynes wows audience at historic Brigus"

by Bill Westcott

Two thumbs up for George Jerrett and the St. George's Heritage Church Committee in Brigus for providing the unique venue for Ron Hynes, Sunday, June 25. The Man of a Thousand Songs gave a memorable performance of some of his finest work (old and new).

Billed as An Evening With Ron Hynes, the concert got underway at 7 p.m. Hynes, accompanied by bass player Barry Hillier entertained for nearly two hours, singing his heart out to a near full house of appreciative fans including some tourists from as far away as Ottawa, England, Spain and the majority who hailed from Newfoundland and Labrador.

Journey back
Hynes opened the evening with his signature piece Man of a Thousand Songs. He appeared confident and quite at ease as he segued from song to song. During the early segment of the show he sang numbers from his hit albums of a few years ago including Get Back Change, with fan favourites like 1962, Dark River, Leaving on the Evening Tide, St. John's Waltz, Just Like a Movie Scene, Atlantic Blue, Get Back Change, Godspeed and his classic Sonny's Dream (always a crowd pleaser).

New album
The evening also found Hynes introducing numbers from his recently released album - a self-titled CD simply called Ron Hynes. Many fans are saying already that this compilation of 14 of Ron's most personal works may prove in time to be his biggest success ever. Produced and arranged by veteran Toronto roots music producer Paul Mills, this latest CD, according to Hynes himself, is "a kick back in a most powerful way at the demons that almost consumed" him. Those demons included drugs and alcohol. Early 2005 Hynes finished up an 80-day residential addiction recovery program and is proud to say he is clean and living "one day at a time."

He chronicled, with painful honesty, his journey through that "dark period" with words and music. On his latest CD, the songs Dry, Carry This Cross, My Name is Nobody and The Mother Who Bore You in Pain all tell it like it was. During Sunday night's concert Ron performed three of those songs and also demonstrated his witty and humorous side while delivering delightful numbers like Dirt Poor, On Tickle Cove Pond, A Good Dog Is Lost, Three Cheers for the Buchaneers and the fabulous Roy Orbison Came On.

His new album has 11 new songs, one co-written by Ron's daughter, Lily (TigerLily) and three older tunes - Movie Scene, which he wrote when he was with the Wonderful Grand Band in the 70s and which Valdy recorded; Sorry Lori, a co-write with (WGB producer) Declan O'Doherty, (and recorded by Terry Kelly); and Piccadilly Sand Farewell which Ron wrote with Newfoundland fiddler and composer Emile Benoit. Four songs on the new CD were recorded live, just Hynes and bassist Dennis Pendrith, in concert last April at the former LSPU Hall in St. John's, (now a theatre and cultural centre). The performances reveal Hynes at the peak of form, kinetically attuned to his hometown audience.

Finest moments
I have always considered Ron Hynes not only a great singing troubadour but a poet and a Newfoundland and Labrador icon. Widely acknowledged as one of Canada's premiere singer-songwriters, it was a great pleasure to see him perform live in-concert. And, experiencing him at the historic setting of Brigus just added icing on the cake for me.

Among his finest moments that Sunday evening was when he performed My Old Man, a tribute to his father Thomas who died in March of this year at the age of 92. Then, at the opening of his haunting ballad Atlantic Blue Hynes asked his audience for a few moments silence in memory of those 84 souls who were lost at sea in the terrible Ocean Ranger tragedy - a disaster that "none of us will ever forget," Hynes says. And, he paid tribute to Mark Walker, the Tickle Cove, Bonavista Bay-born author of the classic Newfoundland folk song On Tickle Cove Pond. Hynes spoke in a somewhat humorous way (but quite serious too) about how he found out Walker had moved to the United States in the later stages of his life. "He died in Massachusetts," said Hynes, "and is buried somewhere outside Boston in an unmarked grave. I promised myself I am going to do something about that sometime - surely he has to have a suitable marker," he added, as he began singing Mr. Walker's great song. Hynes finished that segment with his wry and witty comment, "Sure, we can't have singer songwriters from Newfoundland buried in unmarked graves now, can we?".

During the half-time break Ron autographed copies of his new CD for those who made purchases and he also made available there his long-awaited first songbook, Songs of Ron Hynes - Volume 1. Quite a number of those were snapped up as well. One man in the seat ahead of me who had purchased a copy said to me, "I can't wait to get home and get out my accordion. This is terrific!" he boasted, as he filed out of historic old St. George's humming Sonny's Dream.

The June 25 concert in Brigus marked the beginning o - The Compass – June 28, 2006

"Swapping songs at Stanfest"

Stan Rogers Festival review by entertainment reporter Stephen Cooke

Swapping songs at Stanfest
10th annual festival wraps up in Canso with lots of music blowin’ in the wind

“A contemporary of Rogers’, and a songwriter of equal skill, Ron Hynes came to the stage in his trademark fedora with a satchel full of songs and a guitar assist from Rogers’ friend and producer Paul "Curly Boy Stubbs" Mills. From his saga of Newfoundlanders who’ve gone down the road, Get Back Change — complete with shout-outs to Dick Nolan and Harry Hibbs — to the lovesick muse of Where Does Love Go Wrong, Hynes hits the emotional bullseye every time.”
- Halifax Herald July 2006

"Ron Hynes (CD Review - NL)"

Ron Hynes

By Sarah Moore. Reprinted with permission from Culture & Tradition (MUN).

Haunting. Compelling. Soul-baring. However you describe Ron Hynes’ latest self-titled recording (Borealis Records, 2006), one thing is certain. Ron Hynes has never sounded so good. Full of emotion, Hynes’ lyrics are akin to an open wound: raw, with the numb undertones that only self-inflicted pain can address. Autobiographical songs "Dry" and "My Name is Nobody" deal directly with Hynes’ recent experience in an alcohol and drug rehabilitation program, while "Carry this Cross" is a compassionate yet chilling lyric written from the standpoint of Jesus Christ; but which could be viewed as a metaphor for the deep despair of one who is truly lost, whether it be through addiction, or another anguish. Hynes’ painful quest to get where he is now is not lost on his audience, who are very appreciative of his talent as a singer and songwriter (four of the songs were recorded live at the L.S.P.U. Hall in St. John’s). His performance of these three songs in particular, especially his parched timbre in "Dry" is unequivocal.

Not all the songs on the recording are intense. Both "TigerLily," a song co-written with daughter Lily Hynes, and "Three Cheers for the Buchaneers" have a cheerful sentiment, providing a nice balance to the songs such as "The Mother Who Bore You in Pain (Dark Angel)" a song inspired by the somber plea from Hynes’ mother to regain sobriety . Also included on this fourteen song collection are three previously composed songs: "Movie Scene" which Hynes wrote while performing with Wonderful Grand Band in the 1970s, "Sorry Lori," a co-written song with Declan O’Doherty, a producer for Wonderful Grand Band and "Picadilly Sand Farewell," a song that Hynes co-wrote with fiddler and composer Emile Benoit. All are successful in their inclusion on this album, and musicians Curly Boy Stubbs, Dennis Pendrith, Al Cross, Don Reed and Cindy Church have made guest appearances which make the songs even more memorable. The album was recorded by well-known Toronto roots music producer Paul Mills (Stan Rogers, Tanglefoot).

Hynes comes full circle in this recording by adding the crowd favourite "Dirt Poor." A tongue-in-cheek response to the stereotype that the poor are "dirty," Hynes’ song is full of local references including "Ches’s fee and chee" and "the Old Ship Inn" and regional references to outport community resettlement. The audience gustily accompanies him on the chorus, and according to the hoots of laughter, quite obviously enjoyed the familiar setting that Hynes’ weaves in his words.

"The Man of A Thousand Songs," as Hynes is referred to, never strays far from his Newfoundland roots, which is evident in songs such as the autobiographical "Boy from Old Perlican." Detailing the experience of many Canadian songwriters in Nashville, Hynes concludes the song with one of those witty self-references of which his fans are so familiar: "If there’s one small consolation/ Here in these desperate times/ All these Nashville songwriters/ Are all tryin’ to look like Ron Hynes/ How strange to be in Tennessee/ Singin’ Newfoundland songs."

Hynes’ newest album is classic Ron and his fans have not been disappointed. Hynes’ superb songwriting combined with the talents of producer Paul Mills allows for a release that is even better than fans could have hoped. As CBC Radio host Shelagh Rogers proclaimed, "How can it be that Ron Hynes just gets better? Just listen." Indeed.

Ron Hynes has been awarded the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award from the St. John’s Folk Arts Council, and is currently touring the folk festival circuit in Canada and the United States.
- Culture & Tradition (MUN).



2010 - Stealing Genius (Borealis)
2006 - Ron Hynes (Borealis)
2003 - Get Back Change (Borealis)
1998 - Standing In Line In The Rain (Indie) N/A
1997 - Face To The Gale (EMI)
1993 - Cyers Paradise (EMI)
1984 - Small Fry (childrens album - Indie) N/A
1976 - Discovery (Audat) N/A

2012 - duet w/ Lucy MacNeil on The Barra MacNeils, The Celtic Colours Sessions
2011 - Wonderful Grand Band Volume 3 & 4 DVD (WGB Prod.)
2010 - (Re-issue) Wonderful Grand Band CD (WGB Prod.)
2009 - Wonderful Grand Band Volume 1 & 2 DVD (WGB Prod.)
2008 - duet w/ JP Cormier on JP's "The Messenger" CD
2007: (Re-issue) Wonderful Grand Band - Living In A Fog CD
2007 - Duet/co-write,"Hard Workin' Hands" on Dave Gunning
"House For Sale"
2006 - Spoken word on Grady CD "A Cup of Cold Poison"
2006 - "Savior" on "One Night In January- Songs for the IWK" CD
2006 - Duet/co-write "Only One" on Steven Bowers "Tired Light"
1997 - 11:11 Newfoundland Women Sing, Songs of Ron & Connie
Hynes (Indie) N/A
1981 - Wonderful Grand Band - Living In A Fog (vinyl) (WGB Prod)
1978 - Wonderful Grand Band (vinyl) (WGB Prod)




One of Canadas premier singer-songwriters, Ron Hynes has created beautifully crafted signature songs for more than 35 years. His fall 2010 release, Stealing Genius (Borealis/Universal) marks his eighth solo recording, and his third project with award-winning producer, Paul Mills. Inspired by works from some of his favorite authors and poets (including Donna Morrisey, Des Walsh, Stan Dragland, Randall Maggs, Al Pittman and Michael Crummey), Ron Hynes has crafted a collection of remarkable songs that not only echo a life in Newfoundland and Labrador, but resonate with people everywhere.

The release of Stealing Genius came hot on the heels of the world premiere of The Man Of A Thousand Songs, a feature-length documentary, of which Hynes is both subject and star. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Wm D MacGillivray and co-produced by Terry Greenlaw (Picture Plant) and Jordan Canning (Get Set Films), the film premiered to capacity crowds at the Toronto International Film Festival and subsequently garnered Atlantic Film Festival Awards for Documentary, Director and Audience Favorite.

Best known for his folk classic Sonnys Dream, Ron Hynes' songs have been recorded by artists world-wide including Emmylou Harris, Mary Black, Christie Moore, Denny Doherty, Murray McLauchlan, John McDermott, Prairie Oyster, The Cottars, Hayley Westenra and many more.

With eight solo albums and numerous collaborative projects to his credit, Ron Hynes is a six-time East Coast Music Award winner, a Genie Award winner, and a past JUNO, CCMA and Canadian Folk Music Awards nominee. He was recipient of the 2008 SOCAN National Achievement Award for songwriting career success, and holds an Honorary PhD from Memorial University for his contributions to the cultural life of his beloved Newfoundland and Labrador.

In the words of author, Donna Morrisey, Ron Hynes is a grand voyeur in this rough, sweet life, a melody writer of the first order, a story teller, a philosopher, a poet and a kick-ass performer that makes my hair stand on end.

Ron Hynes tours regularly throughout Canada and abroad, attracting enthusiastic audiences wherever he performs. For more please visit:


1972Released the album Discovery (World Records/Audat) that was the first recording of completely original material by a Newfoundland artist.

1973...Toured Ontario and Newfoundland playing soft ballads in loud bars.

1974-1976...Was the in-house composer for the Mummers Troupe. Composed music and lyrics for East End Story, Dying Hard, The IWA Show, and The Price of Fish. Wrote Sonny's Dream while touring western Canada in September '76. There are currently more than a hundred cover versions by various artists worldwide.

1977...Starred as the famous Newfoundland songwriter Johnny Burke (1851-1930) in The Bard of Prescott Street.

1978-1983Co-founded The Wonderful Grand Band with Members of Codco and Newfoundland musicians. The band did six years of television/radio/touring and two albums, The Wonderful Grand Band (Clode Sound) and Living In A Fog (Grand East Records).

1984Wrote music and lyrics for the Resource Centre for the Arts production of High Steel, which was directed by Mary Walsh.

1985-1986...toured as a solo concert artist and as a musician/actor with The Best of Codco.

1987Starred as Hank in Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave in Ottawa (York Street Theatre production) and in St. John's (resource production directed by Janis Spence). Wrote and recorded Small Fry: The Ron Hynes Album for Children.

1988Starred in and hosted The Island Opry Show, a country showcase at the Opry in PEI that featured National and International country stars.

1989Wrote and produced The Lost Island Opry (LSPU Hall). Toured Newfoundland/Labrador with Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave. (Cultural affairs/Cauldron Production)

1990-1991...Had a principal role in feature film "A Secret Nation", winning the Genie Award for best song with "The Final Breath". Elected vice-president of the Songwriters Association of Canada and signed an exclusive writer's contract with TMP: The Music Publisher.

1992-1997...Signed with EMI Music Canada and released two critically acclaimed albums, Cryer's Paradise (1993) produced by Declan O'Doherty, and Face To The Gale (1996) produced by Chad Irschick. Toured extensively throughout Canada and the UK/Ireland.

1997...Released 11:11 Nfld. Women Sing (songs by Ron and Connie Hynes) featuring Newfoundland's best female artists. This project also received the 1997 MIA SOCAN Songwriter of the Year award.

Band Members