Review - Posted Dec. 5, 2000, Country Standard Time
The Lost Utrecht Sessions ... 2000
(HayByrd) Inspiration can turn up at the least likely time or place. So is the case for Canadian rockabilly singer/bassist Ronnie Hayward. Pulling together Dutch friends on several different European tours, he's cut a stellar album that revels in rockabilly from slide guitar sounds of the Delta to hillbilly train calls to dance beats from early rhythm 'n' blues.
The recording is a throw-back to a time when the producer's job was to capture the players sound on tape, rather than shape it. If not for the legend noting these sessions took place in 1999, one would really wonder if they weren't truly "lost" from the mid-'50's; the vitality of the sound literally leaps from the speakers and demands the listener's attention.
Hayward's vocals retain the urgency of his rockabilly recordings, but his songwriting and playing extends across 16 originals that reflect more on the lost loves of country and blues than the first inklings of rockabilly infatuation. His singing has the same sort of experience found in Dave Alvin's post-Blasters work, and with harmony help from Erik Van Beek, he lights up "Let the Rain Come Fallin'" with a stirring Bakersfield harmony. The Dutch players are uniformly excellent. Beek's steel and dobro (especially on blues like "When You Get Back" and "601 Blue") and Arnold Lasseur's mandolin are quite moving. Likewise guitarist Kees Stiger's chicken pickin' and tic-tac playing propels several tunes.
This is the sort of seamless blend of blues, hillbilly and rock'n' roll that was made before the seams were created in the first place.
- Eli Messinger
Based out of Vancouver since 1984, Ronnie Hayward has been a founding member of bands such as Jimmy Roy's 5 Star Hillbillies, The Nervous Fellas, The Bughouse Five and The Yo-Dell's. With these groups and many others, he toured Canada and the United States several times, including recording about twenty albums as a bass player and songwriter.
After nine years working with a well rounded variety of roots oriented musicians, this gave him a solid background and led to the formation of his own band, The Ronnie Hayward Trio. He has been the opening act for Jerry Lee Lewis, KD Lang and The Pogues, played The Hemsby Festival in England twice and toured Europe seven times. He received such an enthusiastic response from the europeean audience that his fourth tour, originally scheduled for two month, ended up lasting more than a year.
Presently, back in Canada since July 1999, Ronnie established himself in Alberta, where he quickly became one of Calgary's busiest musicians. He performed the 2000 Calgary Folk Festival, The Shady Grove Festival in Nanton, was featured on local television several times and in the movie "Elevator Down".
The Lost Utrecht Sessions Reviews...
Although he's a rockabilly legend, Ronnie Hayward is taking a break from that sound this time around. "The Lost Utrecht Sessions" is his latest album, and it is a country, bluegrass and blues laced gem. In the week since its release, record sales have been going well on the same streets Wilf Carter fell in love with years and years ago. Calgarians have embraced the soft-spoken Ronnie as their own by tracking him down to hear him play his rootsy tunes around town.
Aubrey Mc Innis, The Fast Forward Magazine, Calgary.
Ronnie Hayward is as close to an authentic roots musician as it gets. With his gaunt good looks, Sun-Session haircut and battered stand-up bass, he's right off a postcard from 1957 -and the back of that card says "having a lousy time, wish you were here". Hayward is a hurtin' man, even when he's happy. The Lost Utrecht Sessions kicks off with "You Hound Ya Lie" and, upbeat and uplifting as the track may be, it's plain he's had his heart broke more than all the nation's raided piggy banks lined up end to end. He's got more than that going in the throwback department though. The guy's obviously a shameless drifter to boot. He plays everywhere and plays lots, adding a seasonned feel to every note he fingers. This particular disc was recorded in Utrecht, Holland, with a handful of Dutch musicians who apparently love Tennessee Two -era Johnny Cash, and only the lack of hiss and crackles differentiates Utrecht from records made 45 years ago.
Rick Overwater, The Calgary Straight Magazine, Calgary.
Ronnie Hayward is a Canadian-based rockabilly who recorded this wonderful sel-penned roots music collection with some really excellent musicians in Holland last year. Ronnie had been booked to play Amsterdam but had difficulties in getting his band together. At the eleventh hour a group of local musicians, namely Kees Stigter (lead guitar), Erik Van Beek (dobro and steel guitar), Arnold Lasseur (mandolin and acoustic guitar) and Jan Van Leeuwen (drums), stepped in to help. They all gelled so well that after the gig they decided to cut some sides together and here is the result.
"You Hound Ya Lie" is a real stomper of an opener, very much in the style of Ray Campi with a heavy leaning on the country music of the 50's, setting mandolin, dobro and slide guitar against a rockin' rhythm with Ronnie's own doghouse bass well to the fore. He has a superb "lived-in" voice which sets him apart from many a rockabilly and helps to add a blues feel to the whole thing.
"Crazy Me" is another country number with a strong backbeat; the sort of thing you might expect from BR5-49.
"Ronnie's Blues" is, of course, a country blues and is very convincing, again blending dobro and mandolin to great effect.
"Let The Rain Come Fallin' In" is a terrific country rocker with a great guitar riff opening that makes it quite commercial sounding.
However, the Johnny Cash -styled "Where Do You Run" surpasses everything else! The "chunka-chunka" is heavily emphasised and this really gets my vote for pick of the bunch. There's more country blues in "When You Get Back", which illustrates the amazing depth of musicianship involved. This is more American than America!
"Eight Long Pages" is a sad lament about lost love but performed in quite a lively style with, I think, Ronnie getting the last laugh. This is real traditional stuff and it's heartening to realize that some of today's musicians can play in such an authentic style.
"I Dream Of You" is still countryfied but with a definite hint of rockabilly sneaking in which adds to the charisma of the track.
From here on in the album varies from country (Ol' Round 59, Don't Tell Me What and A Hard road) to country blues (601 blue and If I Ain't Nobody) to rockabilly (Sometimes Now and Pacific Central). The collection closes with the atmospheric "Meet Me Come By" featuring a prominent bass line throughout.
Needless to say I am really impressed with The Lost Utrecht Sessions and will play many of its sides time and time again. I only hope Ronnie gets over here to promote it and that it gets the recognition it deserves. If you like American rural music at its best then go no further than this -you'll be in for a treat! Steve Aynsley, Now Dig This Magazine, England.
Ronnie Hayward lives and plays with the integrity of Woody and Hank. His is a style grounded in knowledge and know-how so solid it seeps from the marrow. He has swallowed the encyclopedia of roots and it comes streaming out of his hands, shivering up the gut strings of his bass and heating up the room. Go to his show and pick up what you want, it's all there; driving rhythm, rock'n'roll stripped bare and raw, and bad-boy hard-luck sexiness. With the Ronnie Hayward Trio, straight up rockabilly has checked into the motel and country is in the next room knockin' on the door for an all-night moonshine whiskey jam.
In the sleepy small town of Castlegar, BC, Ronnie was born the last of nine Hayward children. In a house where Dad was playing Jimmie Rodgers songs on the guitar and Mom could sing like Kitty Wells, the musical path was a natural one. By the age of nine, Ronnie was learning acoustic guitar from the local DJ. (...) A sleepy hole, perhaps, Castlegar, but something good was stirring there. By the age of twenty, he decided to try his hand with an upright bass, which he taught himself to play. At that time, Ronnie started the first of what would be a small series of trios dotting his carrer. (...) Eventually, he ended up in Vancouver, and, at age 35, with bands like the Tailgators, the Nervous Fellas, Jimmy Roy's 5 Star Hillbillies and the Bughouse Five under his belt, he's no young turk. For six years Ronnie has hosted a weekly jam session at Vancouver's historic Railway Club, bringing together the city's country and rockabilly talent, and the occasional out of town guest, every saturday afternoon. (...)
Ronnie Hayward is an original. >His refreshing dedication to both the tradition and the future of roots music, married with his vision and talent, is a gift to the world scene. His performances, live or recorded, are passionate and true -the distillation of a life devoted to what's real and raw in music. This one is a rare find, my friends. Catch him while you can. Amen.
Tamara Bunnell, The Grindstone Magazine, Los Angeles.
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