ON Friday, July 18 Chris Ronald will return to where it all began. Now a musician living in Canada, he will come back to East Staffordshire to play a gig at the Priory Centre in Stretton.
Twenty five years ago, aged 17, Chris, along with his family, moved from Derby to Stretton. He didn’t really know anyone in the town and after having lived there a while, spent an evening in the Wyggeston pub with a friend, Jason Fletcher. Jason had brought along some friends of his own, including another teenager named Chris Ryder. The pair struck up a friendship together and it was then that his musical career began to take shape with the formation of their first band.
Chris explained: “Chris and I got chatting about music and I remember singing to him and others on the walk home. Jason, Chris and his twin brother Matt invited me to an audition and our band, Third Wish, was formed. I think our first gig was at a nearby Conservative Club attended by Edwina Currie. I remember Edwina coming up to me and saying, ‘You’re good but not as good as The Beatles.’”
The band soon found themselves performing more gigs in and around Burton as their popularlity grew. They performed at the Allied Sports and Social Club and also entered a talent contest at Bretby Country Club, where they finished third. Their prize was a recording session, which Chris says he still has a copy of. However, after three years together Third Wish began to disband. Chris and Matt Ryder both moved to Wakefield to study music and while they still saw each other during summer and winter breaks, they began to drift apart from one another.
In 2002, Chris made the decision to emigrate to Canada in order to fulfil his dream of being a full-time musician. Having already released two albums, he has now recorded a third, ‘Timeline’, which has been described as a meeting of British roots and North American folk with influences ranging from Neil Young to Ralph McTell or Don McLean to Nick Drake.
Last summer he came back to Burton to celebrate his brother’s 50th birthday, and decided to get in touch with Chris to see if he wanted to join him with a gig at the Coopers Tavern in Cross Street. He said: “We used to drink at the Coopers and have impromptu jams back in the day. Anyway, he couldn’t make the gig, but on another night we met for beers, caught up with each other, and had a late night jam back at his house.”
This month he is returning to the UK again for a two-week holiday and to attend a family reunion on the Isle of Wight. He has also lined up three gigs, including one to promote ‘Timeline’ at the Priory Centre, which will see him perform with Chris once again. He added: I got in touch with Chris to see if he’d be interested in joining me on a few songs at the CD release concert at Stretton Priory Centre on July 18 and he was very keen to do so, and I got my mum to take him a copy of the new CD.
“I recently received an email from Chris saying that he couldn’t stop listening to the CD and that he’s very much looking forward to our first public performance together in over 20 years.”
The pair will play at the Priory Centre in Church Road, Stretton on July 18 at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced £5 in advance or on the door. For more information call 01283 530572 or email firstname.lastname@example.org