Ron Leary
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Ron Leary

Band Americana Singer/Songwriter


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"Ear Candy"

Ron Leary - theroadinbetween: Windsor's Ron Leary has crafted a debut album in the acoustic singer/songwriter-backed-by-an-alt-country-leaning-band vein that wins on all fronts. The songwriting is solid, the production strong and the performances frequently compelling. Leary’s voice carries off songs that are a nice combo of Ron Sexsmith and Ryan Adams. - KND - Real Detroit Weekly - Aug 31st, 2006

"Windsor's Own Humble Success"

If I were lucky enough to have a song of mine played on public access radio, I'd shout it from the highest mountaintop. If I wrote music, that is. If there were mountains within 500 miles of Windsor, yes, I might even climb one and shout from it.

Ron Leary, with his recently released roots/folk album, The Road In Between, should be yelling from the top of anything above ground level for very good reason; he's a success. He has made me a proud Windsorite in past weeks, and not just because he creates music the way most of us create hot air.

With good news burning a hole in his guitar case, he somehow failed to let it slip out that he has recently had five songs from his new album selected to play on the new CBC Television drama, 11 Cameras (whose 22-episode season ended Thursday).

Leary's friend Dean Drouillard, another Windsor product and export, had the chance to hand a CBC producer his own new album, Harmony Motel, along with Ron's. The CBC producer loved the samples enough to select Leary and Drouillard's music. One of Drouillard's tunes was even chosen to be the show's theme song.

A fellow skilled musician, Lee Gaul, stopped Leary one evening and asked him if he had actually heard Leary's music on television. Had I personally not been within earshot, I'd still be clueless. "I'm not big on tootin' my own horn," Leary said plainly. Maybe it's compiling over 20 years of experience that keeps you from gloating when you have glaring commercial successes.

"I don't think of myself as commercial. I feel like I'm indie ... do it yourself," Leary said. Yes, fine, you're not commercial, but why didn't you tell anyone Ron? His simple, perfect response, "I put it on my website!" wobbled in the air around me, pointing to the lack of awareness on my part: on our part.

Leary has been noted as the "King of Open Mic" because he has hosted six different showcases in recent years. He has a microphone at his disposal several nights per week, and still doesn't bother to blabber about his newest gem. "I play every night in this city. I think enough people hear me," Leary said.

In this world full of eagerness to self-congratulate before anyone else has a chance, it was the clearest breath of fresh attitude I had experienced in years. Ron Leary and his cohorts are class acts, with talent beaming out in all directions. You won't hear it from them. That's why you're reading it here. - Windsor Star - Sept 11th, 2006

"Feast For The Ears"

Produced by Dean Drouillard, "theroadinbetween" is a feast for the ears. This is still a troubadour's album, but there's lots to entertain those listeners bored with the "guy with a guitar" conventions: strings swell, harmonies lilt, slide guitars haunt, and drums add rhythm and dynamics to songs built well enough for one man and one guitar." - Upfront Magazine (Windsor) - June 2006

"Golden voiced Singer/Songwriter"

Ron Leary: Golden voiced singer/songwriter. Easily Windsor's best kept secret, but he may not be for much longer. CBC has picked up some of the songs from his "theroadinbetween" for their tv series, 11 Cameras. RIYL: Iron & Wine, Calexico, Ron Sexsmith. - Upfront Magazine (Windsor) Oct 2006

"Leary Set for Homecoming"

Ron Leary has played hundreds of shows in the past two years, taking the stage at lounges, clubs, and bars across the country.

But until now, Ron Leary has never performed his spare, introspective songs on a Woodstock stage, a circumstance that will change with the musician’s first hometown show since his teenage years. When Leary begins his Saturday show at Ody’s, the Quality Hotel’s resident watering hole, it will definitely be a different sort of homecoming for the Woodstock native.

“There will be lots of family and friends, some I haven’t seen in quite a while,” Leary said from his Windsor home. “It will be exciting to see a lot of familiar faces, but it does change things. When you play to family and friends, it’s definitely a different dynamic.”

While Leary often makes the trip from Windsor to Woodstock, stopping at home during his cross-province tours, he had struggled to find an appropriate venue in the Friendly City. A conversation with some friends in Wayne Omaha, a Toronto-based band with strong Woodstock roots, pointed Leary in the direction of Ody’s, allowing him a hometown unveiling for “theroadinbetween,” his recent full-length debut.

“(Wayne Omaha) had played at Ody’s before, and I kind of pieced it together,” Leary said. “It’s also a lot easier when you have something to promote. The album was long overdue.”

In a way, the genesis for “theroadinbetween” could be traced to Woodstock, where, as a 13-year-old, Leary took his first halting steps to become a songwriter. Leary honed his craft in the intervening 19 years, emerging as a gifted songwriter, but had waited until he was satisfied before committing his songs to album. Woodstock, though, does make a cameo on the album’s title track, where Leary sings, “This is the place where it all began, in a place that prides its cow downtown.”

“It’s taken a long time to get to the point where I could release an album with 10 songs that I was totally happy with,” Leary said. “There’s one song that goes back about four years, but the vast majority have been written in the last two.”

“It’s taken a long time to get my sound together.”

The Windsor and Detroit media have embraced Leary’s sound, with local publications praising his broken-hearted melodies and acoustic melancholia. While Leary often gets lumped in with alternative country stalwarts like Ryan Adams, his often-haunting songs have more in common with Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner, another idiosyncratic talent who balances twang with atmospheric tone. The arrangements for “theroadinbetween” also eschew the exaggerated production that mars so many releases in this digital age, adopting an approach that emphasizes the space in the songs.

“We wanted to put the melody and the song first,” Leary said. “With all the technology out there, it would have been easy to fill all the tracks.”

Leary’s approach was bolstered by his choice of collaborators. His producer Dean Drouillard, brought his experience as a songwriter and musician, helping imbue the songs with a rustic warmth that burnished the storytelling and nostalgia. While Leary began as a drummer, playing in his parents’ country band as a Woodstock youth and later studying percussion at the University of Windsor, he surrendered the kit to Adam Warner, whose comfortable style was the perfect complement.

“I was working with some good people,” Leary said, “All three of us put the songs before anything else. I’m already preparing to do another album with them. They’re both amazing musicians.”

Leary’s song-first approach is reflected by his decision to completely focus on his music. Two years ago, Leary made a momentous decision, resolving to “do nothing else but what I’m doing now.” Instead of a nine-to-five job or more years in academia, Leary chose the life of a professional musician, affording him the focus necessary to finish the two-year recording process for “theroadinbetween.”

“It was an obvious decision,” Leary said. “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else now. My philosophy is just to play as often as I possibly can. It doesn’t matter if I’m playing for a bunch of money or no money at all.”

Saturday’s Woodstock show should be a little different than Leary’s solo performances or his full-band blowouts in Toronto. During his homecoming show, Leary will be joined by Kenneth MacLeod, a fiddle and mandolin player, giving the performance more of an “old-timey feel.”

“It will be a little different than some of my other shows, but I like to do a lot of different things to keep it interesting,” he said. - The Sentinel Review (Woodstock) Oct 6th, 2006

"Utterly Unique Voice"

Ron Leary - theroadinbetween: Don't balk at the singer-songwriter tag that must accompany this album. Windsor troubadour and perennial open mic guru Ron Leary has more than enough creativity and character to rise above being the quintessential "guy with an acoustic guitar." First, there's his utterly unique voice - a pleading, caught-in-the-throat, tenor that transfixes with its vulnerability. It's like a tightrope act that sometimes verges on faltering, but always returns to balance and beauty. Then there's his exquisite songwriting, which melds rustic sensibilities with coffeehouse poetics and indie rock inspirations. Alt-country doesn't quite describe it. It's too delicate to be roots music, too edgy to be folk. Leary has accomplished a most difficult feat on his debut full-length: a personal sound in a heavily travelled genre. Bravo. Online at - Windsor Star - Jan 2nd, 2007

"Travelling Salesman"

Not to slight Arthur Miller, but it’s the life of this salesman that is much more the story.

Singer/songwriter Ron Leary call himself The Travelling Salesman on the weekly radio show on University of Windsor’s CJAM-FM (91.5) where he promotes independent performers - troubadours like himself who spend a good part of every year playing in Canada’s out-of-the-way clubs.

The 33-year old Leary from Woodstock, Ont., is from a family of country and western musicians. From the age of seven, he played drums and sang in his parents’ band, The Corn Huskers.

Windsor has been home the last eight years. From here he sets out on occasional tours across the country and recorded a CD of original songs last year.

Leary also hosts two open-microphone nights at local clubs - Mondays at the Phog Lounge, 157 University Ave. W.; and Tuesdays at the Sky Lounge, 261 Pelissier St.

He has sold nearly 3,000 copies of his independently released CD, theroadinbetween, and got some national exposure for it on both CBC Radio’s The Vinyl Café and CBC-TV’s summer 2006 series, 11 Cameras.

Leary falls roughly between Nick Drake sensitivity and Ron Sexsmith currency in his music. But he’s a much more assured singer, taking his cue from the alt-country of one of his idols, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco.

The songs are distinctly local in colour - he relates small stories of intimate places and people. Ideas occur to him while he takes daily strolls along the Detroit River or hits the blue highways for one of about 170 shows he performs a year.

It’s this keen sense of place that has helped Leary land a spot in the media conference, 20 Years of Propaganda?, currently being held in Windsor. Leary will the do the warm-up gig tonight for conference headliner, Juno Award-winner K’Naan, at the Chrysler Theatre. The concert begins at 8:15pm and is open to the public - tickets $18.50 at the door.

K’Naan from war-torn Mogadishu, now calls Canada home, and Leary knows why.

“The more I travel around Canada, the more I appreciate this country and what it offers,” he said.

At the end of May, Leary returns to Canada’s Maritimes for a brief tour. He’ll be in Windsor and southern Ontario through mid-August, then he’s off on a five-week cross-country jaunt beginning in British Columbia.

“I get asked a lot if I’d ever move to the States,” he said, “I’m up for going anywhere any time if there’s an adventure to be involved. But I’m content to live here.”

Leary first came to Windsor in 1993 to study percussion at the University of Windsor. But apart from learning how to play marimba with four mallets, there wasn’t much he could learn in those 18 months in terms of expression, he said.

“I got out and went back to approaching my music on an emotional level instead of an intellectual level.”

He took several years off and wrote music. He also added guitar to an instrumental arsenal that includes drums and piano. In 1998, Leary was back at the University of Windsor studying history.

“My favourite class was Larry Kulisek’s local history course,” he said. “One of the reasons I’m drawn to this area is its rich, local history.”

In his final year, he won a scholarship for an essay he wrote on the punk music scene in Windsor in the 1970s.

His travels have brought him to verdant cultural oases like Wakefield, Que., and Wolfville, N.S., high on his list of memorable stops. Recently, he discovered another not 30 minutes from his west Windsor home - Amherstburg.

“Imagine, a thriving community right in my backyard,” he said, “ Eventually, I’ll write songs about many of these places.”

Read the article online: - Windsor Star - May 17th, 2007

"Haunting Yet Soothing Voice"

Ron Leary
This singer/songwriter is not your conventional guy with a guitar. His music transcends time because of his haunting yet soothing voice, his superlative songwriting and the poetic stories he shares with his audience. He’s not just a man with a guitar; he is a man with soul, passion and a hell of a lot to sing about. He has been passionate about music his entire life, ever since his parents enticed him into it at a young age. “My parents rehearsed with their country and western band at the house and had me playing drums in the band by the time I was six.” It’s no surprise that his music has a distinctive country sound weaving through it. He goes on to tell me that his music is “the best of storytelling troubadours, along with a healthy dose of indie pop and alt-country goodness.” Leaving out that his music is also a hip swaying, cigarette smoking and beer drinking good time! He is a master of his craft; pick up his album, theroadbetween.

read the article online: - Real Detroit Weekly - December 13th, 2007

"Glimpses Into A Complicated World Without Tidy Endings"

In last year's The Road In Between Windsor, ON songwriter Ron Leary crafted an album that is burdened with the weight of the world, but which refuses to buckle under the pressure. A song like "You've Got It All Wrong" addresses the woes of a damaged relationship with an intelligent and careful approach that avoids juvenile cliches and instead goes for the emotional heart of the situation, leaving the story partially unsaid and letting the listener decide just how it all turns out. It's that sense of continuum that gives life to the folky strumming that drives the album and makes the songs feel as though they are glimpses into a complicated world without tidy endings. There's a melancholy that pervades the record, but it's not depressing - more like a quiet and subdued contemplation that would be perfectly suited for a summer afternoon in a pub someplace sorta like The Black Dog. - Eden Munro - Vue Weekly Edmonton


Ron Leary - "theroadinbetween" (Bootbrush/Indie) July 2006
Ron Leary - "Lapse" EP (Bootbrush/Indie) November 2002



Windsor-Ontario based artist Ron Leary has quickly been gaining recognition as one of Canada’s most important emerging roots artists, much the result of the debut release “theroadinbetween” (2006) followed by an intense year of touring Canada coast-to-coast.

The debut release “theroadinbetween” is a feast for the ears (Upfront) and relates stories of a world that is a complicated place without tidy endings (Vue Weekly). It is heavily influenced by life in the hard living blue-collar border city of Windsor. On songs like “The End” you can feel the pulse of the factory and the pain of working the line for life; on “The Road In Between” love is found under the watchful eye of American military jets flying over head. The theme of tradition runs persistently throughout the album, most obviously on the opening track “Years,” a song which romanticizes about a break from urban life and a return to the family farmland, even though it will never happen.

In performance, Ron Leary always makes a strong impression on his audience by delivering powerful songs with disarming honesty, humour and humility. Whether it be with the intensity of the full band, as a folk duo with harmonica player Kelly “Mr. Chill” Hoppe, or simply as a solo artist, each show is a unique journey where even Ron never quite knows where or how it will unfold or end. But his golden voice will melt you in your seat, with a presence that will keep you on the edge of that seat and slightly off balance.

It was growing up in the Southern, Ontario tobacco-belt where Ron got his early start in music. By the age of six he began playing drums in his parents Country & Western band "The Corn Huskers," a unique outfit including the fiddle, banjo and washboard. It was in the community halls, fairs and barn dances, playing the terrifying polka (for a six year old at least) or the fox trot, where Ron spent many weekends of his youth growing up. While to define Ron’s music as country music would definitely miss the mark, there is no doubt that the influences of these early years can be heard loud and clear.

Over the past year Ron has shared the stage with many great acts such as Mississippi Music Hall of Fame inductee Steve Forbert, Juno Award Winner K'Naan, Noam Chomsky plus many great Canadian artists like Royal Wood, The Sunparlour Players, Catherine MacLellan, David Myles and many more. Ron has been invited to perform at the 20 Years of Propaganda Conference, In The Dead of Winter Music Festival, South River Arts Festival, and performed in numerous venues coast-to-coast. The debut release “theroadinbetween” has been gaining some stunning accolades from across the country, being showcased on CBC Radio 3, used by CBC icon Stuart MacLean in his Vinyl Café Program, as well as five songs being featured in CBC TV’s summer program Eleven Cameras. The debut also charted well nationally on campus radio, spending numerous months on the National Campus College Radio Charts.