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Old 02-04-2014, 11:07 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2000
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Default Ed Ringwald - article in magazine

Edward Ringwald: Ontario Steel Guitarist Swings with Authority

Pedal steel guitarist Edward Ringwald of Local 226 (Kitchener, ON) has spent his career recording and performing with and supporting musicians like Ian Tyson of Local 547 (Calgary, AB) and Gordon Lightfoot of Local 149 (Toronto, ON).

Ontario Steel Guitarist Swings with Authority
With an exceptional height of 6 foot 4 inches, it can be fairly amusing to obtain a nickname like Peewee Charles. For Edward Ringwald of Local 226 (Kitchener, ON), it was always a simple token of being in the band. “That was a moniker I got years ago,” he laughs.

Recently taking home the 2013 Canadian Country Music Association Steel Player of the Year Award, Ringwald feels blessed to have a career in recording, touring, and performing with musicians he looks up to. Highlights include work with Ian Tyson of Local 547 (Calgary, AB), Gordon Lightfoot of Local 149 (Toronto, ON), and even playing with the Saturday Night Live band.

“I’ve been asked so many times to describe the steel guitar,” Ringwald explains. “It’s the sound of rock-bottom loneliness and heart stabbing isolation. It’s the soundtrack to ecstatic self-pity—the musical glue holding together emotion in a song.”

The 62-year-old with two granddaughters now spends the majority of his time closer to home, working with Country Music
Television (CMT) Canada and playing with his newest musical endeavor, the Western Swing Authority.

The seven renowned studio musicians that formed Western Swing Authority won the 2013 International Music Award and were recently nominated for the 2014 Ameripolitan Music Award. After five years, they are ready to cut their third album, writing music influenced by the swing era of the 1920s and 1930s.

“It’s just nice to play all genres of music, whether it’s jazz, country, blues, or swing. It’s all a challenge, but it’s all enjoyable and just makes you a little better as a musician overall,” he says.

Ringwald’s interest in the pedal steel guitar began when his father brought him to a Ray Price country concert as a child. “The sound of the instrument amazed me,” Ringwald says. “I was blown away with it.”

Born and raised in Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada, he began his music ventures around the age of 17 when his dad bought him a six-string lap steel guitar. “Back then it was a lot of money to buy a steel for $500 and take a chance in whether your son would play it,” Ringwald says. “I thank him very much for that.”

Ringwald remembers sitting for hours with a record player, trying to learn from his influences like Buddy Emmons of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) and Local 257 (Nashville, TN), and Lloyd Green of Local 257.

In 1972, Ringwald left Canada for Dallas, Texas, to study music with Maurice “Reece” Anderson of Local 72-147 (Dallas-Fort Worth, TX). The day he got back home he received a phone call from iconic Canadian singer songwriter Ian Tyson. He asked Ringwald to play on the Ian Tyson Show with the Canadian band Great Speckled Bird. With no auditions, Ringwald started a week later, playing on national TV for a syndicated show every week.

Then Gordon Lightfoot contacted him to record on his album Cold on the Shoulder. He said he would also like Ringwald to play in his band. Ringwald flew out to a show in Seattle in Lightfoot’s private jet.

“He asked me if I’d like to be part of this,” Ringwald says. “Here I am at 23 years old going, ‘yes.’ So the decision was made and I was with him for 16 years.”

Ringwald first joined AFM Local 226 early in his career, back in 1970. “As a young traveling musician in the early years, it was important to be part of the AFM,” he says. “I think they’re really dedicated to representing the interests of all professional musicians.”

He always found the union beneficial for help in negotiating contracts, agreements, or wages. Ringwald is comforted by the support he has received from the union for television work in the past year and excited after receiving his first pension check.

“It’s such a professional staff, I’ve always found,” he adds. “They’ve always been there when I needed them. As a lifetime member, it’s pretty cool and I’ll continue to be a member.”

Influenced by his peers at an early age to join the musicians union, Ringwald is grateful for his pension. He says if there is ever an issue, it is comforting to know the union is there to back and support its musicians.

“In all the years I’ve been playing, I’ve never really had an issue with anything,” he adds. “It’s nice to know contributions were put into that. I had the security of knowing that they would be there for me.”
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