RON SEXSMITH at Hugh's Room 2261 Dundas West Friday January 17 20-$22. 416-531-6604 Rating: NNNNN
Success is a relative thing for Ron Sexsmith. On virtually every level, the Toronto singer/songwriter has done very well for himself. Sexsmith cheerfully spends most of the year on the road, touring non-stop in Australia, Japan, North America and Europe, and makes a living in one of the less glamorous categories of the music industry -- the male adult singer/songwriter.
With each record, though, speculation starts again about whether this will be the album that will "break" Sexsmith and turn him into a superstar. Aside from the fact that the humble, self-deprecating musician isn't exactly rock star material -- somehow entourages, leather trousers and hotel-suite-demolishing fits of rage don't fit -- the obsession with blowing up large also dismisses his current situation.
It turns out that Sexsmith is actually quite happy with his level of success and isn't pulling his hair out waiting for the colossal, life-changing lottery win that will make him a household name.
"People love to speculate about how each record will do. I know they mean well, but it makes it seem like I'm some sort of sad sack looking for sympathy," he offers during a rare bit of downtime.
"I do pretty well for myself. This is my sixth album, and I play mostly sold-out shows all around the world. I mean, I still don't understand why radio stations will play David Gray or Ryan Adams and not play me, but the David Gray thing is actually really inspiring. He opened for me in London a few years ago and now he's huge. It makes me think that something similar isn't entirely out of the question for me.
"I'm doing exactly what I want to do. I've had some pretty amazing experiences. The story gets a bit old after a while, but meeting McCartney was a huge thing."
The constant that's run through his career is those encounters with people like McCartney, Elvis Costello and the other established songwriters who've given Sexsmith their public support. The latest stars doing what they can to boost his career include Aimee Mann, Travis and Coldplay, whose vocalist, Chris Martin, guests on Sexsmith's recent Cobblestone Runway CD and who have invited Sexsmith to open for them on their current U.S. tour.
If he were a painter, one of these celebrity fans might offer Sexsmith patronage. Props are fine, but they don't exactly pay the bills.
"The Coldplay thing seems like a good thing," he reasons. "They're quite normal people who don't have any of that weird rock star attitude of, say, wearing sunglasses indoors, so I think we're a good fit. I'm glad for any help they can give me.
"My next single is going to be the Chris Martin duet. The thinking is that if Coldplay have already exhausted their singles, people will be desperate to hear him somewhere. They'll have nowhere left to turn but me."email@example.com