“Make today count, you only have today once.”
Ryan Barron, Facebook status, April 12, 2016
On Sunday April 17, many Windsorites awoke to the tragic news that Windsor music scene pillar, Ryan Barron, had been killed in a hit and run while skateboarding in Vancouver early that morning. To his family and friends, this was a horrific loss. But it’s a major loss to our local music scene. Ryan Barron was a quiet unassuming face in the crowd with a passion for skateboarding and hardcore, but behind that genuine smirk lay a heart that beat for the local hardcore scene.
As a journalist covering Windsor’s local music scene for nearly 20 years, I’ve had the privilege of covering a lot of amazing talent and amazing people in this local music scene of ours. Some have gone on to bigger and better things, some of quietly left the life of public music, and some squandered their opportunities and let their ego supersede their talent. None of that applies to Ryan Barron.
Initially gaining notoriety as the vocalist, then bassist for hardcore favourites, Days Fade, his impact on the scene was enough right there. But, he wanted more for our musical community. Punk and metal were in rough shape locally and the hardcore scene appeared to be on life support. Touring acts were avoiding the area, and the local bands weren’t maturing or breeding fast enough to make the scene attend shows. Barron and his budding company, Rose City Promotions, changed all of that.
Ryan slowly built an agency that earned the respect of many top local promoters and journalists – including yours truly – with his dedication in bringing in not just locals from as far away as Toronto or Montreal, but from all over North America. If they were on tour, he’d divert them to the Rose City. In many cases, even if they weren’t, he created an environment that warranted the acts to make the drive for a one-off at a house party. He was genuine and honest and his word was his bond. As a promoter who also happened to be in one of the scene’s top performing acts, he never used that power to insert his band into every major bill he promoted. There was room for anyone with enough heart and spirit as long as they were good and brought it every time they played a show.
It was a real blow to the local hardcore scene when Ryan decided to relocate to Vancouver a few years back. He had become a name so synonymous with the local punk and hardcore scene that it felt strange to not see Rose City Promotions attached to flyers or Facebook invites. But, he had found a better place. Mentally, emotionally, peacefully. He continued his passion for skateboarding and found pride in a new job he excelled at.
And then April 17 happened. And now a music scene has been shaken to the core. He wasn’t just one of us, he was a part of us. But instead of mourning our sorrows with rage or cries to the heavens, the following few days became a sea of love and community. From the Windsor Star to CBC, from Facebook to Twitter, the city opened up and remembered the sheer magnitude of joy and love this man had brought to so many, so often, so selflessly. It became apparent that we didn’t just lose a friend, a family member, a musician. We’d lost a leader. And though he was too humble to probably fully realize that, or even admit that, he was indeed. And we all learned something from being around him.
It is with great sadness, but coupled with the joy of crossing paths with him, that I offer my deepest condolences to the Barron family and all of his friends and peers. Days fade, but his inspiration will last forever.
Friday May 6
One of Windsor’s most energetic indie rock bands of the past few years, Of The Pack, return to Phog Lounge, bringing their frantic dance floor anthems for what are always sweaty events. The “fuzzy drinking love rock” of Sweet and Lodown and the psychedelic indie of Beach Creep bring their vans down from Toronto to make for a solid night of gettin’ your shoegaze and bounce on.
Saturday May 7
Well, they must have had fun a couple years ago, cause they’re baaaaack. The mirth and mayhem of legendary 90’s shock punk rockers, Green Jelly (of “3 Little Pigs” fame), return to Windsor with their puppet show of doom with another banger at The Dominion House, joined by the riot girl pop-punk of London’s, The Alcohollys, and Windsor’s heavy masters, The Apex.
Wednesday May 11
Whether as a balladeer at your favourite pub or with his full original band, Dave Russell & The Precious Stones, Dave Russell has been wowing audiences and music fans for years in Windsor, as well as across Canada on a couple occasions. He’s finally releasing his first solo album following releases with The Tree Streets and his aforementioned namesake band and the CD release party happens tonight at The Dominion House. It’s only $5 at the door for a chance to experience one of the area’s most gifted songwriters and melody makers.
Friday May 13
It’s a night of emerging talent at Phog Lounge as Tony Coates brings his infectious and soulful pop to the stage once again. He’s joined by one of the city’s brightest new songwriters in Bobby Sproat and features one of the newest musicians on the scene, the R&B stylings of Kat Moscone.
Saturday May 14
It was ten years ago that Windsor-Essex county’s folk poet laureate Ron Leary released his masterful album, theroadinbetween. A classic road story of life in our area, it’s like the soundtrack to comic creator Jeff Lemire’s classic graphic novel series, Tales of Essex County. Painfully gorgeous and poignant even to this day, it remains an essential for any aspiring songwriter in our scene. To celebrate the occasion, Ron has assembled an all-star eight-piece backing band to play the entire album front to back for the first time since it was released, with a show at The Windsor Beer Exchange. Opening the night are the amazing family duo, Kenneth & Marion MacLeod.
Over the past few years, one of the bright spots in the indie rock circuit was the indie pop of Takers & Leavers. Early this year, they announced via Facebook that they were no more, instead replaced by a new project entitled The Brandy Alexanders. Now, after months of speculation, they drop their new self titled EP to unveil their new sound, joined by the wonderful folk-rock of Tea Leaves and the “prairegaze” of Winnipeg’s, Basic Nature. Only $5 at the door.
Saturday May 27
Scene & Heard, our monthly showcase Q&A and live performance series hosted by myself, along with Villains Beastro, goes down tonight. Tonight’s guests are the incredible dustbowl indie folk of Border Patrol. Hot off the release of their debut album, Toxic Thought Machine, the band will be talking about the booming success of their album, singing a few songs, telling a few tales, and performing a full set – one of the upcoming rare few, as they prep to take their show on the road, in both Canada and the U.S.