Classroom storyteller turns focus to music

Longtime teacher and father finds time for tunes, with family helping out

Ron Ste Marie came to music late in life.

Though he started dabbling in music in his 20s, he said he never did anything with the songs he wrote and, as he got older, he lived his life as a father of five and high school teacher.

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Now, with his kids grown and a teaching schedule that allows for more free time, the Rayleigh resident in his 60s has gone head-first into music and produced his first album, which he will officially release at an event this weekend.

Full Moon Rising features 12 original songs, with music — guitar, harmonica, piano, bass — and vocals by Ste Marie. Other musicians adding to the mix are friends or family of Ste Marie, including friend and producer Dennis Hayes, a teaching colleague whose basement served as the album’s recording studio.

“I couldn’t have done this without his help,” Ste Marie said.

Other help he received was from his family. His wife painted the album art, one daughter, Anika, did graphic design and another, Alexa, sang harmony. He also got some help on vocals and keyboard from son Sebastien, who played in the now defunct Kamloops band Van Damsel.

Ste Marie said it's tough to describe his own music, but his recording partner has said it has an East Coast feel, and others have compared it to Kris Kristofferson.

“It’s certainly not rock ‘n’ roll," he said.

"There’s mandolin in there, some fiddle in there — but it’s not outright country music.”

One track released online by Ste Marie is Path Along the Pines, which he said is about being an empty nester. Other tracks tell stories of past lives, pilgrimages in Spain, geography and failed renovations. Ste Marie said there aren’t many love songs, though — just one.

“I like putting words together,” he said.

“One of the really intriguing things is where it will lead. You don’t always know where a song will go when you start it.”

Although he draws inspirations from folk greats like Bob Dylan, Ste Marie said his experience comes into play when it comes to songwriting.

“Being a school teacher all my life, I figure I basically got paid to tell stories. This is kind of just an extension of that — except it’s musical and I’m getting paid less,” he said.

An album release party will held on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Pizza Pi, 314 Victoria St. Admission is by donation and half of the net proceeds, including album sales, will go to the Kamloops Food Bank.

© Kamloops This Week

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