The time around the Christmas holidays and the turn of the year is always a good time to look back on the past year. For me, the outstanding moments were the Restrospective 3 tour with the Ron Evans Group and an article that I was allowed to publish in the magazine GoodTimes. Text and photos of the article I brought here today. But it is still something else – compared to an online article – to go to the magazine shop at the airport and find your own article in a magazine.
We got to know each other at the beginning of the 80s in his record shop in Starnberg. I took my first photos at the end of the 80s for the band Redhouse, in which Ron was active as a guitarist and singer. At that time already on bass: Rodney Harley. In the 2000s until the beginning of this decade there were different line-ups of the Ron Evans Group, which I captured at concerts all over Germany, also with band photos. Some years the group consisted of Steve Hooks (sax, fl, keys), Eberhard Wilhelm (dr) and Wolfgang Graf (b), before a time with Hansi Enzensberger on keyboards, Frank Thumbach on bass, Matthias Holzapfel as another guitarist and Jörg Regenbogen on drums followed.
The quartet had previously been active as Funk-Fusion-Band Squibzone – and they worked out interesting variations of single Evans songs. Ron also played in parallel with Rodney Harley and Carsten Enghardt as a blues trio – this later became the next Ron Evans Group with Steve Hooks and Hubert Hofherr.
With this line-up LIVE AT THE VILLAGE was formed in 2014. In 2016, Charles Walker replaced Steve Hooks on saxophone and flute for health reasons. Steve had been a member of most formations of the Ron Evans Group since the 90s and had influenced the sound of the Ron Evans Group on almost all CDs with his distinctive double saxophone playing.
This change of line-up once again brought a slightly different sound: in this case through the interplay of Hubert’s blues harp and Charles’ saxophone, which developed into one of the Group’s trademarks. When they paused because some members were also active in other formations, Ron was still in action. Either he wrote new songs or was on the road with smaller projects. So in the middle of the 00s with John Paiva and Steve Hooks as a rather quiet acting acoustic trio, which also dared excursions into jazz.
A similar project can currently be heard and watched, but with a little more steam, when Ron (born 1947) and Rodney (born 1946) are on the road as a duo Evans & Harley. From my point of view Ron knows how to arrange the characteristics of different genres – besides blues and rock also reggae, soul and jazz – in such a way that many things seem familiar although they are mostly his own titles. Even if he covers songs of other songwriters or interpreters, he always creates something of his own. It is the many small details that Ron seems to recall from his musical memory and re-assemble. He spent many years as a DJ in Scandinavia before he opened his record shop.
If I look at my photo archive this way, interesting facets of Ron’s music have emerged again and again over the decades through the various line-ups and accompanying projects. Over this long period of time, new developments and technical possibilities for the musicians were added in ever shorter succession. This reminds me a little of my photography, it’s quite similar. But what was and is always there as a basis is the passion for music (or as a photographer for the picture). Here you can learn and develop, but if you don’t have this foundation, the result is often not honest and authentic. During all the years that I have accompanied Ron and his group and the various projects, you could always feel this passion.
Since the last “Retrospective 2 Tour” Rainer Blencke (sax, g, voc) strengthens the group, which will be completed by James Jacobs (keys, voc) in 2018. And: Christoph von Sonnenburg will be present at the “Retrospective 3 Tour” in November – he was the drummer of the Ron Evans Group in the mid to late 90s.