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Old 09-15-2016, 06:46 PM   #37
Join Date: May 2000
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Default Re: LIGHTFOOT-KRISTOFFERSON-HAWKINS (& Willie) record a tune!it's BOBBY MCGEE!!!



Me and Bobby McGee version recorded in Peterborough by Kris Kristofferson, Gordon Lightfoot, Ronnie Hawkins being released this week

By Ed Arnold, Peterborough Examiner
Thursday, September 15, 2016 1:37:54 EDT PM

Fans of rockabilly, folk and country music are in for a special treat this week when four music legends release their new song, all generated from the Peterborough music scene.

Think about being a musician opening your new recording studio with the first song you get a chance to produce featuring the vocals of Kris Kristofferson, Gordon Lightfoot, Willie Nelson and Ronnie Hawkins. Then imagine they are going to sing one of the most popular songs Kristofferson ever wrote.

That's what Peterborough producer James McKenty was joyfully faced with this year when Kristofferson, Lightfoot and Ronnie Hawkins decided to get together to record a tune mixed in his Cordach Crescent studio.

But that wasn't all. McKenty also got country music star Willie Nelson involved.

That's quite a role for a producer more than half their ages.

The four legends are singing Kristofferson's song Me and Bobby McGee to be released this week on iTunes. Most of it was recorded in Peterborough and on Stoney Lake, co- produced by McKenty and Ronnie's son, Robin Hawkins.

How the megahit makers got together is a tale needing to be told.

McKenty, one of the musical gems of the Peterborough community who has produced Canadian superstars Blue Rodeo, receiving a gold record for one of the band's latest records.

The 38-year-old has been performing, writing and involved in music for the last 16 years in Peterborough, once fronting the popular band The Spades but now doing more producing although he does play guitar in various bands and has jammed with some of the best including The Tragically Hip.

Robin Hawkins is a talented musician who has been rocking throughout North America for years.

The story starts at the last year's Havelock Jamboree where legendary songwriter, singer and musician Gordon Lightfoot was performing and his old friend Ronnie Hawkins, who lives on Stoney Lake, paid him a visit.

McKenty says the two of them were hanging out backstage, telling stories and longing to get back together to do a tune as a keepsake for their grandchildren. It was more than to have some fun with, says McKenty. They talked about doing an old Lightfoot song Pony Man.

"Initially they talked about doing it at a Hamilton studio but Ronnie learned I had just finished my studio," says McKenty. His studio looks like a garage on the outside but he, friends and neighbours built it beside his home from cement up.

Hawkins is also good friends with Sam and Ryan Weber of the super-talented musical act the Weber Brother,s who suggested McKenty's studio. The Webers made it happen bringing McKenty into the project.

"That was fantastic. I had just put the equipment in when really the phone rang and it was Ronnie wondering if they could do it here with Gordon and the Weber Brothers."

There was no hesitancy on his part.

The Webers came first to lay down some tracks with McKenty. Ronnie added some vocals.

On Sept. 22, 2015 Lightfoot showed up with Ronnie from Toronto. Ho hum, just another day on Cordach Crescent.

"We hadn't met before. He was a super person, there was no experience quite like it," McKenty said.

Lightfoot got right to work listening to what had already been recorded.

"He was very particular about tempo, phrasing and pitch. We played him what we had and I will always remember him saying to Ronnie "this is top shelf."

Lightfoot opened a briefcase with a pencil, erasure, sharpener, sheet music and metronome inside.

"I've never seen a musician do this. He sat and did pages of musical notation for the drum part, he wrote it all out."

Lightfoot and Hawkins were not alone. They had brought their wives, Kim Hasse and Wanda Hawkins.

"It was the sweetest day of recording ever. My wife Kelly made dinner and what was supposed to be an hour or so became an all day thing of music, stories, food and fun."

They were also laying down music and vocals for a Christmas song they were doing with The Band's legendary member Robbie Robertson.

"Gordon coached us and Ronnie on the singing. It was pretty sweet."

Lightfoot and Hawkins liked what they heard.

That wasn't the end.

"That was the start of it," says McKenty.

Ronnie spends some winter months in Florida where last winter Kristofferson came to visit him with his wife Lisa. Ronnie pulled out the tunes "by these Canadian players." Kristofferson liked what he heard and the two of them started talking about doing a song.

"It was all a fun thing, so Kris told Ronnie he would come to Stony" to visit him.

When McKenty heard that he and Robin Hawkins might be producing a song by them, "It was one of those, I'll believe it when I see it moments."

Then on May 2 of this year he got the phone call that Ronnie had decided they would do Kristofferson's megahit song Me and Bobby McGee.

"He wanted an up tempo version," remembers McKenty.

They brought in Sam and Ryan Weber, Steve Kendry on drums, with McKenty also on guitar, along with local legend Buzz Thompson, Robin Hawkins and his father Ronnie a week before the recording session to lay down a version of it and give a listen.

McKenty was fooling around with a high-pitched acoustic guitar that Ronnie and the others really liked so they decided to go with acoustic guitars, drums and stand up bass.

Hawkins did the vocal in one take.

"He was incredible. The next day Kris was flying in and wandered in to Ronnie's at midday."

His wife Lisa was there with a digital video camera to film it. No camera crew, just her.

"Kris was such a very nice man. He introduced himself to everyone. He was super nice, so was his wife Lisa," McKenty said. "We played the version for him that we had done with Ronnie. I was nervous, but I saw his cowboy boots were tapping to the beat so that was a good sign."

Kristofferson and Hawkins sat around laughing and swapping stories.

McKenty knew they needed Kristofferson on this song "but who would ask him?"

"I wandered over and asked if he wanted to sing a verse or so. He said sure and sang the whole thing."

part 2 in next post
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