Ron Sowell was the guest speaker at the DSA 2nd Tuesday meeting on November 10 at the Center for Community Cooperation. Best known for his role as the musical director of the internationally acclaimed public radio show, Mountain Stage, Ron Sowell is also an accomplished singer-songwriter, guitarist, harmonica player, performer, and producer.
Before connecting with Ron through FaceTime, the meeting was called to order. President Michael Brandenberger welcomed everyone, then recounted the many events of October. We also met new members, Stephen McKinnell, and Beth Murphy. Beth was the newest member, having joined just a few days before.
After announcements of coming events leading up to the Awards Ceremony/Christmas Party on Tuesday, December 8, the floor was opened for nominations to be accepted for the board of directors. We welcomed Harry Hewlett back on the Board as an at-large board member. All of the members who are presently on the board were nominated. Stephen McKinnell accepted a nomination for the board. We are happy to have a new board member and look forward to his contribution. Welcome Stephen!
After the nominations were made, motion made and seconded, Harry Hewlett dialed up Sowell. Board member Ken Duren, who had invited Sowell to participate, introduced Ron. Sowell, Duren, and last month’s guest speaker, Tirk Wilder, spent time together in New Orleans. Then Ron summed up his background which you can find on his website.
Ron Sowell was born in Texas and grew up in Roswell, New Mexico, later living in Texas. While touring, he was playing in West Virginia when he fell in love with the state and has lived there since. He talked of playing in Dallas during the days of the Rubaiyat Club, a time that quite a few of us in the room remember quite fondly. It was a vibrant time of music in Dallas.
Sowell talked about running into B.W. Stevenson at the Rubaiyat one night. Willis Alan Ramsey approached them, saying he had the master tracks to his new album. He asked them if they wanted to go to his place and listen to the tracks. Which they proceeded to do. After they heard the entire album, Ramsey asked them what they thought of the songs.
Ron told him that all the songs were great. But he said that he wasn’t sure about the song about the muskrat. At which point we all broke out laughing. (For those who might not get the joke, Muskrat Love was Ramsey’s biggest song, being recorded by Captain and Tennille, and America, among others.)
During our visit with Ron Sowell, he played a couple of songs. He also explained, and showed us, his charting system for the Mountain Stage Band. It was an enjoyable and informative visit and meeting.
Mountain Stage is a staple of NPR programming, can be heard each week on over 140 public radio stations nationwide and is still thriving after 32 years. An award winning songwriter, Ron placed second in the prestigious songwriting contest at Doc Watson’s Merle Fest and first at the inaugural Rocket Boys Festival. He has three solo CD’s to his credit: Oil and Water, Little Movies, and a collection of songs for children, Opposite Day. In addition, he was awarded the Golden Mic for writing and producing the best original jingle in the United States for the West Virginia Lottery.
Thank you for your visit, Ron. We really appreciated it and enjoyed it.
Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.