Niagara Gazette

Music

November 12, 2009

MUSIC: The songs (and paintings) of Ron Hawkins

By Eric DuVall

eric.duvall@gnnewspaper.com



A lot of things have changed since Ron Hawkins was on the stage at Gateway Harbor in North Tonawanda in 2006.

For starters, Hawkins was fronting The Lowest of the Low, a band that drew 10,000 people to the canalside venue for an old fashioned Buffalo lovefest.

The Iraq war dominated headlines, there were about as many jobs as Americans and Canadian rock and roll was enough to let people get away for a night.

In Buffalo, at least the latter is still true.

But for Hawkins — a songwriter from Toronto whose stuff resonates here more than a lot of the musicians who actually call Western New York home — really, for all of us, things are different today.

An economy locked in a deep recession lends plenty of fodder for a songwriter whose material has never been a stranger to tough times or the political divide.

Maybe that’s why a new record from our old friend feels so comfortable.

During times like these, Ron Hawkins makes a lot of sense.



The art of music

Hawkins comes to Buffalo this weekend for a two-night stand, but not for two concerts. He’s diversified.

Sure, there will be the usual Saturday night gig (9 p.m. Allendale Theatre). But Friday night, he’ll open a gallery art show of modest rock star portraits.

Hawkins has held several gallery shows north of the border, but this is his first in Buffalo.

Like almost everything that drove the creative energy surrounding his latest offerings, the recession played a role.

“When the recession hit, people said they couldn’t afford to buy (the paintings),” Hawkins said in a phone interview this week. “I thought I would do a recession-buster series. I called it the ‘Pocket Painting Project.’ ”

That idea combined with a suggestion from his longtime Western New York promoter Vincent Lesh to do portraits of some of the musicians from Hawkins’ punk-infused youth. The result was a four-by-six inch portrait of Johnny Rotten and the idea that would eventually lead to his first art show here.

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