Post by Marina Irick.
At 7:54pm on Saturday, the power went out in the Westboro Masonic Hall on Churchill Avenue, just minutes before Newfoundland icon and revered Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Hynes was scheduled to take the stage. An eager crowd of about 60 folk fans chatted anxiously in the dark as Hollis Morgan, the lead organizer for Spirit of Rasputin’s, reassured everyone the show would go on.
Soon, flashlights and cell phones exposed the hall’s ornate pressed ceiling and crystal chandelier, below which sat Ron Hynes on a small elevated stage — red scarf wrapped around his neck, leather hat on his head and guitar in hand, ready to play.
His raspy yet smooth vocals started with his song “I love this House,” pulling at the heartstrings of my mother and I, as our family home just sold a few weeks ago. Ron carried on by telling stories of life in Newfoundland – tales of leaving the island for better employment opportunities, a lost dog in an east-coast blizzard, and beautiful tributes to the lives of those who went before. His melodies are such that even someone naïve to most of his songs, like me, had to hum along.
Throughout the performance, his vivid storytelling kept the audience captivated – even telling some stories that he made us promise “would not leave these four walls.” Although the lights did, in fact, come back on after the first few songs, the feeling in the room was not altered – he managed to keep the same level of comfort and intimacy. A hard-fought battle with cancer has inevitably taken a toll on his slight body but not on his spirit.
Ron had us laughing at his reference to the bar being open at intermission, staffed by Delilah, or at least, he told us, that would be her name for the night. He had us mesmerized by his tribute to the crew of the Ocean Ranger, who were lost to the Atlantic in 1982.
The final song lingered on our lips even as Ron assured us that our singing was far from perfect, and his last notes were greeted with an enthusiastic standing ovation. To end the show, he stood at the microphone without a guitar; his emotion-filled a cappella voice leaving the audience in awe.
It was quite an introduction to a Newfoundland icon in the Masonic Hall, and to the caliber of performance showcased by the Spirit of Rasputin’s in a great Ottawa venue.