Ron Armstrong stands as a piece of Rock nâ€™ Roll history, yet he is a recently opened vault, chock-full of rockinâ€™ Alternative Country/ Americana/ Roots Rock heart and soul.
The first time I laid eyes on Ron was 1965. I was a shaggy headed teenager living in San Diego. My band was playing at a teen club that was nestled in one end of a bowling alley complex. At the other end stood a hot 21 and up club called the Redcoat Inn. One night during a break, I strolled down to check them out. A group named â€˜The Misfitsâ€™ were rockinâ€™ the place. I couldnâ€™t see inside but they sounded greatâ€¦I was impressed! A week later, armed with my older brotherâ€™s driverâ€™s license, I managed to slide past the doorman to actually view the band. The place was packed, the walls were sweating, and the music was pumped up. The rhythm guitar player/ lead singer was Bob Mosley, who later switched to bass and helped form â€˜Moby Grapeâ€™. Behind the drums sat Ronâ€¦all confident and obviously enjoying himself. They were snarling their way through the harmonies of a blues-rock number and looking cocky as hell doing it. Yeah, â€˜The Misfitsâ€™ were coolâ€¦cool enough to land the gig to open for â€˜The Rolling Stonesâ€™ when they came to town. THAT ROCKED!!!
In 1970 Ron went on to join â€˜Jamulâ€™, (pronounce huh-mool), which was one of a few San Diego bands to enjoy national recognition. Through the power of Bob Desnoyersâ€™ hard rockinâ€™ version of â€˜Tobacco Roadâ€™, and the Armstrong penned â€˜Sunrise Over Jamulâ€™, which was Ronâ€™s first recorded lead vocal, the band received enough airplay and sales to reach #93 in Billboardâ€™s top selling albums. It is well know among collectors today.
Rock nâ€™ Roll Bands donâ€™t last forever, and the members of â€˜Jamulâ€™ went their separate ways. Ron slid off his drum stool and stepped back behind his beloved piano. Whether he was on piano or drums, a distinctive sound was something that just came natural to him. People can practice forever and never achieve it. Since those days He has played with a few bands including the well known Cajun artist Joel Sonnier. He enjoyed playing live music but eventually became burnt out on the club scene. He worked days, saved money and bought recording equipment. Living like a hermit in the hills just outside of Los Angeles, with the help of friends Ron honed his production skills. He continued working on his music and has now at the age of 66 has produced his first album. Can you believe that? What he loves most though is playing live and is very excited about his latest rehearsals. â€œI feel like a 21 year old kidâ€¦itâ€™s all new, exciting and funâ€.
The man has a unique vocal and keyboard style. He stands, closes his eyes and leads his guitar dominated band on keyboards. He sings as if heâ€™s narrating a story. He gets so lost in it that it surfaces as a soulful melody as his life pours out before you in a song. Listen to his new CD release, â€˜Just Around The Bendâ€™, and you can journey with him in the Oregon woods on the title track. You can hang out with Ron and his pals as they witness a gal from Newhall, CA. who leaves nothing to their imagination as she enters and wins an exotic dance contestâ€¦â€™Oh Suzieâ€™. In â€˜Fencesâ€™ he expresses his inability to find open land without fences. Ron takes you along with him and his dog, â€˜Leroyâ€™, for a drive in his old Chevy truck through San Diego County. When he covers tunes like Chuck Berryâ€™s â€˜You Canâ€™t Catch Meâ€™ or Bob Dylanâ€™s â€˜Just Like A Womanâ€™, he makes the melody his own as he takes the song somewhere itâ€™s never been before.
Ron Armstrong speaks and writes the truth. His music and lyrics establish an honest down home feeling that is hard to come by these days. He is what he is thatâ€™s all he isâ€¦ thatâ€™s genuineâ€¦ and thatâ€™s pure gold to me!
Jerry Raney (www.beatfarmers.com)
Check out the artist's website:
1. Just Around the Bend
2. Oh Suzie
3. Little Red Rooster
4. You Can't Catch Me
5. Just Like a Woman
7. Listening to Jimmy Reed
8. The Sun is Shinning
9. J Marie
10. Movin' to the Country