For the love of Lucinda Williams

Wendy Rose
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Musicians paying tribute to soulful singer this weekend

Sherry Ryan will join forces with other local musicians to present the third annual Lucinda Williams tribute show. —Submitted photo

The Rockhouse will be filled with sultry voices singing the blues Saturday night as Sherry Ryan and Jill Porter host their third Lucinda Williams tribute show.

The Nov. 24 concert, “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road,” features local musicians and singers brought together by their love of a folk singer from Louisiana.

Names on the bill include Ryan and Porter, Katie Baggs, Ilia Nicoll, Suzanne Power and Sandy May, and the house band has Mark Bragg on keys, Brad Power and Ian Cornelisson on electric guitar, Suzanne Power on bass and vocals, and Chris Donnelly on drums. Two members of the house band are also members of Ryan’s band, The Enablers.

Ryan is one of the key organizers and vocalists and said the idea for the show came out of a conversation she had with Porter more than five years ago.

“It definitely came from the two of us. We’re huge fans,” Ryan said. “You know how songwriters listen to their favourite songwriters? Well, Lucinda is definitely one of our favourites.

“We’re doing a lot of stuff from ‘Honey Bee,’” she said, an album she describes as “awesome and rockin.’”

“‘World Without Tears’ is also really rockin’. We’re doing a bit of that, too. I think my favourite three albums are ‘Car Wheels (on a Gravel Road)’, ‘World Without Tears’ and ‘Honey Bee’.”

Lucinda Williams has a larger fan base in St. John’s than Porter and Ryan had anticipated. This year, the show had to switch venues for the first time. Moving from The Ship Pub to The Rockhouse, the band will have access to a bigger stage and more room for hungry fans.

“We had a full house last time. We got people out, a lot of older people actually, who I didn’t know and had never seen before,” Ryan said.

“We tapped into this whole fan base of Lucinda’s that we didn’t know existed. We didn’t know what kind of response we were going to get at The Ship, but now we know we can get a good crowd.”

In Ryan’s living room, an issue of Believer magazine belonging to Katie Baggs lies on the coffee table. Lucinda Williams is featured in the issue in a seven-page interview with Madeleine Schwartz.

Williams talks about finding the inspiration for her soulful, heart-wrenching lyrics.

“You have to be willing to dig way deep down in yourself, and go and look at those demons and monsters and things and stuff that happened. Just go down in there. Because that’s here the wealth of material is,” she said.

Does Ryan find her songwriting inspiration through her own personal demons and monsters?

Yes indeed.

“When it comes to writing my songs I do definitely write about very personal experiences, and usually it’s the darker ones,” Ryan said. “So perhaps that’s how I get an opportunity to connect with my feelings, by writing about them.”

In reviews and articles over the years, Ryan’s voice has been compared to the beautifully raw voice of her influential idol.

Up! magazine referred to Ryan as

“St. John’s answer to Lucinda Williams.”

Fans can expect a variety of Williams tunes spanning the years of her long music career, as well as guest appearances by local musicians and singers.

Advance tickets are available at Fred’s Records, O’Brien’s Music and The Ship Pub, or tickets can be purchased at the door on Saturday night at The Rockhouse.

The show starts at 11 p.m.

Organizations: Honey Bee, Believer magazine

Geographic location: Gravel Road

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