Ryan Kennedy @ WhiteBox Play Studio, Chambly – 21st August 2020

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Ryan Kennedy Live at WhiteBoxPlay (Chambly) August 21, 2020

With a smile almost as big as his beard, Ryan Kennedy steps on the stage in front of the biggest crowd he’s played for in months:  12

Ryan is backed by Julie Jasmin on violin and a whole production team from WhiteBox Play who would stream the performance live.  This was no bedroom session!  We had a full light show, 3 camera setup and live editing by the team at WhiteBox Play.

I have to admit that I was both excited, but also feeling guilty to being at a live performance, while our dear readers could not.  I took one for the team and can now document the feelings of being back at a live show, during our music drought. 

Instead of the lowering of the PA music, darkening of the lights and cheers from the crowd, we got a countdown to the live feed.  5…4…3…2…1…clap.  

Then IT happened.  

They hit record, and the magic happened.

Soul Digger would begin our voyage, off the LOVE IS GOLD album.   Instantly, we were sucked into the performance, and this warm voice enveloped us and lifted us off our feet. 

Staying with a mellow mood, Ryan went into If I’m Lost and Whiskey Bar.

Ryan next went to the piano to play us a few new songs, off this upcoming third album.  

He explained that this was his 2nd show with Julie, the last time being in 2018.  Ryan showed up to her house with a deep hangover to prep for tonight’s show, but it didn’t matter as they meshed musically, even before the show began, with a small rendition of Black Sabbath’s Iron Man with Julie picking at her strings in unison.  

Four new songs would be played for us, all on the piano: A Lifetime, Wild SkySay Hello, and The Burning Cult

Ryan admitted that his piano skills were still young, having to put black marker dots on the keys to play this song live on television, not long after writing it.  I have to say…his piano skills were in fine form.

To introduce The Burning Cult, Ryan spoke about how he wasn’t a fan of religion, but he was fond of spirituality.  As a former full-time resident of Morin-Heights myself, it’s well known that a cult called The Order of the Solar Temple whose mass murder-suicide included the stabbing of a 3-month old child, and further deaths due to intentionally set fires to their cottage, caused quite the stir, back in 1994.

Ryan went back to his guitar for the rest of the performance.  

He next spoke of how he grew up surrounded by music, including the Beatles, Elton John and even Bruce Huard. 

What’s interesting about Bruce Huard is that Bruce left rock-n-roll for religion, while Ryan left religion for rock-n-roll.  

Tonight’s only cover would be Rocket Man by Elton John, a song Ryan sang during the blind auditions of Quebec version of The Voice.  His first buzzer was 30 seconds into the song.  Spoiler Alert…he got all 4.   

Touring is a major part of a musician’s journey.  Sometimes, you have to occupy your time…like the time he as playing in Port-Cartier and decided to take a rental non-descript white panel van to the famous Federal prison. 

Getting into the vibe, Ryan took selfies in front of the prison, only to be met by officers who came out of thin air.  

Apparently, it’s a crime to take pictures of a Federal Prison.  Good to know.  

He was let go once they deleted the pictures and saw his touring pictures, proving that he was no criminal mastermind.

Touring inspired Love Is Gold.

Part of the live experience, which in this case was also captured for the home audience, were these behind the song stories.  

Memories of Bistro à Jojo and their habit of lighting some Zippo lighter fluid in their shots of Jack Daniels inspired Jack Is On Fire.  “See how easy it is to write a song lyric?”, Ryan says jokingly.

Oh Lord, an open letter to God to see if he approves of his rock-n-roll lifestyle again brings it back to Morin Heights.  

After Dear Sarah, Ryan follows with a song he wrote in Mexico.  Again, Ryan and I have a connection to another place I lived in for 5 years.  

He would end the night with Morin Heights, the song that brought me here, a quaint city we both shared, with a musical history.  I remember driving by Le Studio every day as I commuted to Montreal.

Ryan would end with the song that paid for his guitar, Honest Song.  This SOCAN winning song (2018) would play incessantly on the radio in 2016 hitting a number 2 spot on the charts.  

All through these songs, we are swept up in Ryan’s ability to pour out his soul into his music.  His honesty and vulnerability are refreshing.  His battle with Borderline Personality Disorder could take him to a dark side, but instead, he chose to pour his thoughts into music.  

This cathartic exercise seems to have calmed his soul and allowed him to keep the darkness at bay while radiating songs that touch you deep inside.

To the people who watched live at home, they must have felt a connection to the music, as this intimate show features a Ryan Kennedy that was at home…on stage.  

Chambly wasn’t Morin Heights, but for 1 hour…maybe it was.  Maybe we all took a trip to the town just past St-Sauveur to where our mutual friend Johhny built many of the log homes.  Maybe we passed by Vaillancourt and picked up some craft beer and explored the burnt-out Le Studio.  Maybe we felt part of that small village where Ryan Kennedy lives again, a journey only music can power.

Review: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music.  You can follow him on InstagramTwitter and YouTube. His new Podcast RockStar Today helps musicians quit their days jobs is coming soon.

Photos – Mell Martella

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