Vancouver-based folk singer and songwriter Chris Ronald is headed for Qualicum Beach on Friday, Dec. 1 to perform at the Qualicum Acoustic Cafe. — Courtesy Chris Ronald

Songwriting to send tingles down the spine

Folk musician Chris Ronald the feature act for Dec. 1 Qualicum Acoustic Café

Chris Ronald’s first foray into music was at 15 years old, when he put a poem he had written to music. So it’s no surprise that his lyrics and the story behind them remain important to him.

Ronald, a folk musician with roots in England, will be the feature act at the upcoming Qualicum Acoustic Café on Friday, Dec. 1, along with his record producer and fellow performer, John Ellis.

With a new album out in May called Fragments, Ronald said the majority of the performance will comprise songs from this latest work, representing a wide array of mostly acoustic stylings and different inspirations.

One of those inspirations was one audience member’s story of revival on a curling sheet.

“A guy came up to me after a gig and told me about his back-to-life experience halfway through a curling match, where he had a major heart attack and was technically dead for five minutes and was brought back to life on the ice,” recalled Ronald.

“I was like, Christ, if I can’t write a song about that, then I’m screwed as a songwriter,” he said with a laugh.

That story became Get Back in the Game, and has succeeded in connecting with a variety of people who, in some cases, have also shared their story with Ronald.

“I’ve had all kinds of different people come up to me after hearing that song, and say, ‘That was me when I was down and out on fentanyl on the downtown East side and I’m kind of getting back up on my feet,’ or an older lady came up to me and said, ‘That’s me now that my husband’s passed away, I’m trying to get back in the game as a widow,’” said Ronald.

“When you write a song, you have no idea what kind of life it’s going to take on, and how it’s going to resonate with other people, but I think that’s one of the most gratifying things about what I do, is making those connections and starting those conversations with pretty much complete strangers.”

One of his indicators of whether that will be the case with a particular song is his own visceral reaction, he said. “If I can’t write a song that actually sends tingles down my back, then it’s probably not going to send tingles down the listener’s back.”

Other inspirations for Ronald include a picture of himself and his brothers back in England, and the time he lost his grandfather’s wedding ring at a folk festival in Texas.

Some of these songs bear some storytelling beforehand, said Ronald, adding another dimension to his interest in storytelling.

On the musical side, Ellis has played a big part in diversifying Ronald’s offering, with accompaniment on banjo, mandolin, guitar and other stringed instruments along with some vocal harmony.

Add to that Ronald on guitar, ukulele, harmonica and vocals, and the result is an array of sound stylings and performance possibilities.

Ronald and Ellis will be bringing those to the Rotary House at 211 Fern Rd. for their performance at the Qualicum Acoustic Café on Friday, Dec. 1.

The event includes an open stage to start, with the feature act to follow. Tickets are $10, or $5 for open stage performers.

The doors open at 7 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased at Diva’s Kandy & Kakes, 119 W. Second Ave. in Qualicum Beach.

For more info, contact John Beaton at jabeaton@gmail.com.

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