It was over 20 years ago that Ron Sexsmith first performed at Nelson’s Hume Hotel — he opened for Ani DiFranco in the mid-1990s. Now the 51-year-old singer, songwriter and author returns on Friday to share his album Carousel One with a Kootenay audience.
“I feel like a survivor,” Sexsmith told the Star. “The industry’s been through so many changes, I’ve gone through so many labels, and for someone who hasn’t sold that many records it’s pretty amazing to have such a loyal fanbase.
“For me it all started when I was opening for Robyn Hitchcock. I learned so much from him. I remember thinking even though he wasn’t hugely successful he could pack these clubs with people who knew his songs, and I thought ‘I could have a career like that.’ I never intended to be playing hockey arenas.”
The way he figures it, “there are different levels of success.”
And though the music industry has moved away from “album artists,” that’s what he still considers himself.
“It’s still a viable format for me. Some say ‘the album is dead’, but people still make them, people still listen to them. They can tell a story, or document a certain period of your life. All the songs are meant to be together, and careful thought is put into the sequence.”
That’s true of Carousel One, the main source of the songs he’ll be performing on Friday.
“I always listen to albums. I never do a random shuffle. For me it’s like a movie or a book, if you’re in a certain mood you want to put on a certain record. I’ve always tried to make records that weren’t just 10 singles mashed together.”
And now Sexsmith is looking to branch out —recently writing a fairy tale-themed novel that he’s shopping to Toronto publishers.
“It’s inspired by Dickens, because he was always my favourite, how he had these characters whose names describe their personality, and it was all very humorous.”
But the process of writing it was alien.
“With music you have the luxury of a melody to help you along. You’re trying to make it a perfect marriage between lyric and song, and with a book you want the language to sing as well.”
Sexsmith’s most recent visit to Nelson was in 2013, and he said he’s looking forward to seeing it again.
“It’s great to play Nelson twice in a matter of years.”
The concert will be at Spiritbar on Friday at 7 p.m. Sex smith will be joined by special guest Kevin Hearn of the Barenaked Ladies and the Rheostatics.
Doors open at 7 p.m. Showtime is 8 p.m. Advance tickets are $25 and are available from the Hume Hotel.