A legend is coming to Meaford. Ronnie Hawkins, one of the great stars of rock and roll, will perform in Meaford on the night of Saturday, July 9th. It seems fitting that a boy from a small country town in Madison County, northwestern Arkansas, sometimes called “Hawkins Holler”, should be coming to a small town in Ontario at this time in his career.
Ronnie first came to Canada in 1959 and has been a major figure in the Canadian rock and roll scene ever since. Most of his exposure over the years has been in larger city venues like the Coq d’Or in Toronto and the Brass Rail in London. Now, with his decision to perform in Meaford, Ronnie is in a sense returning to his small town roots. Last December, during a Massey Hall concert in Toronto, Ronnie announced that he wouldn’t be doing any more shows after that one. Fortunately for our community, he has changed his mind and will be here to help us celebrate the Renaissance Meaford weekend and the opening of the Meaford Hall.
Ronnie Hawkins started his rock and roll career in Arkansas in 1952 and over the years has been associated with many of the great names in popular music, names such as Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Burton Cummings, Gordon Lightfoot and John Lennon. During the famous Lennon and Yoko Ono “love in” in Toronto in 1969 the couple stayed at Ronnie’s farm. Lennon called him “Sir Ronnie”. Perhaps the most enduring of all American musical icons of the era, Bob Dylan, called Ronnie, “my idol”. Gordon Lightfoot gave him permission to do his song “Home from the Forest” even before Gordon recorded it himself.
Whether you call Ronnie’s music rhythm ‘n blues, rockabilly or rock and roll, and it is all of those, it has left an indelible impression on the history of the music in North America, and, particularly in Canada where he has made his home. Songs such as “Mary Lou”, “Forty Days” and “Bo Diddley” are landmarks on the map of popular music in the last half of the twentieth century.
On the night of Saturday, July 8th Ronnie will perform on a giant stage at the harbour. Because the focal point of the Renaissance Meaford weekend is the newly renovated Meaford Hall it was originally planned that Ronnie’s concert would be in the Opera House. However, it was soon realized that the demand for tickets would be such that the venue wouldn’t be large enough. So his performance will be on the east side of the harbour, which in addition to accommodating the 1000 or so fans that are expected to attend, will allow the show to be climaxed by a huge laser and fireworks pyrotechnics display. The company that has agreed to put on the display, Pyrotek Special Effects, is world-renowned and has mounted spectacular displays for such events as the half-time show at the 2005 Super Bowl and Shania Twain's world tour.
Tickets for the concert are priced at $100. The Renaissance Meaford committee is also making ticket packages available for the weekend that will include tickets to Ronnie’s concert, the Rib Fest and a bus tour of the Meaford Range and Mountain Lake. The early bird special price for the package, available until May 31st, is $115. Most of the Renaissance Meaford weekend events, however, are free. And individually priced tickets are available for any event for which an admission has to be charged. Net proceeds from the Renaissance Meaford weekend will go to the Meaford Hall fund.
For more information about Renaissance Meaford visit www.renaissance-meaford.com or call the Meaford Chamber of Commerce office at 519 538-1640.
For event tickets call Meaford Hall box office at 1 888 541-4444 or 519 538-3569.