Thursday, 12 November 2009


Reverend Ron Tribute

In memory of CJSW DJ and Bluesman Reverend Ron a loving tribute in the words of his friends

Calgary lost a great friend on November 12, 2009 with the passing of one of its most unique and dynamic philanthropists Ron Predika, aka the Reverend Ron, host of CJSW’s Blues Witness. Ron’s family and friends remember the venerable “mojo navigator” as a colourful character who loved music almost as much as he loved the people around him. His passion for the blues never wavered, from the early days of Calgary’s King Eddy scene, when Ron interviewed every blues musician that came through town, to his recent years spinning the best of the his preferred genre every Wednesday night at CJSW radio.

Needless to say, Rev. Ron’s loved ones and listeners were immeasurably stunned and saddened by this loss. A CBMA Blues Hall of Fame inductee, Ron was a veritable walking encyclopaedia of knowledge, yet he didn’t much dwell on quoting dates and credentials. His informal yet apt obituary described him thusly: a sculptor, comedian, master-craftsman, musician, intellectual, music lover and radio-host, arm-chair historian, bee-keeper, guerrilla gardener, instrument builder, teacher, street-artist, activist, gentle provider to animals, companion, father, but mostly a friend.

Kaitlyn Hatch – Former host Queertopia
“My favourite thing about Ron was his brilliant way with words. The animated way he would exuberantly wave his arms combined with such a blunt and creative description cracked me up. The last time we saw each other was under the beautiful summer sun whilst enjoying music at the Calgary Folk Fest. He had a vigorous hug for me, along with a pat on the back. Truly, he is a fantastic example of how life should be lived and loved fully.”

Taryn Montgomery – Host of Good Character Requirement
“He just couldn't understand how anyone could possibly turn down a good time (particularly one involving "free" booze). I realized that (it) was not the place for me if the people there could not appreciate the awesomeness that was Rev. Ron.”

Peter Maitland – Host of Bikeshevics
“On one of my early dates with my now wife, Marissa, I brought her in to see me in action on the radio. That evening she was wearing a dress and at one point Rev. Ron comes in, looks at her and before even introducing himself says, ‘Boy, those are some hot legs!’”

Christine Leonard – Host of The Nocturntable
“I remember a particularly detailed story he once told me about how mice had eaten out the innards of his favourite handheld Shop-Vac; a trifling matter, except to Ron, the carpenter, who had undoubtedly used it to suck up mountains of sawdust over the decades. To me hearing songs like ‘Ten Toes Up’ on Blues Witness was evidence of Ron’s love of life, marijuana and women, and as for the latter – his hugs certainly made me feel like a real one.”

Greg Chernoff – Host of Airport Bison Radio
“One night, while working a construction job, I was taking a break in the van and I turned on the radio. I had recently discovered CJSW and was feeling my way through the schedule, but had never hit a Wednesday evening before. I tuned to 90.9 in the middle of a Lightnin' Hopkins song, and the honesty and sadness of the tune fit perfectly with my mood. Ron showed me what radio could be, and gave me the courage to speak openly, loudly, and frequently for things that I believe in.”

Laura Glick
“So many good stories but the one I love best is when my show was after his, he would sign off by saying, ‘And now Laura will ruin your night with punk rock.’”

Milan Sveda
“My favourite anecdote as told by Ron about four years ago: ‘Talk about equality of sexes – oh yeah – I tell you. If a guy is getting undressed with window blinds open and a woman walks by, the guy can get himself arrested for being an exhibitionist. And if a woman is getting undressed with window blinds open and a guy walks by, he can be arrested for being a Peeping Tom.’”

Bob Ferris aka Bobby Tubular
“We got to talkin' about Steve Earle and I told Ron what a good song writer I thought he was. He looked at me in disgust and sternly stated... ‘I don't give two shits about the songs he writes... I just like him 'cause he likes to RAWK.’ You will be missed Double R...”

Leah McCartney – Host of Tombstone After Dark
“As a nineteen year old, I was incredibly intimidated by the loud, vivacious, incredibly opinionated guy who sat in on my show after his own, fuelled by his stop at the campus pub (the Den) in between programs. Over the years, the Rev would frequently call me up on air and say, ‘It's all about the groove, Leah! It's all about the groove!’"

Adam Kamis – Host of Failed Pilot
“After a few goes at having an on-air sparring partner and coming off clunky in my efforts, The Reverend left another great CD-R for me in my mailbox and with it a note illuminating me on the finer points of conducting a decent interview. Always mindful of other people's feelings, he concluded his most stirring note by saying ‘...but then again this is coming from an old drunk.’”

Kerry Clarke – Host of Alternative to What
“Two quotes from Rev. Ron: ‘You people know how I hate Kensington.’ And: ‘This show’s the only thing keeping me sane.’ I know there are hundreds of others...”

Chef Wayne – Host of South Louisiana Gumbo
“I remember his was the only show I'd heard that played jug bands, 1920s Delta Blues and the rough rural blues in any quantity. And his way of introducing the next selection with phrases such as ‘building the Tower of Babel one brick at a time,’ ‘they're over in the Amen corner,’ ‘we're gonna get right church and go on home.’ And the way he often referred to himself in the third person as ‘the kid’ and talked about ‘the miry clay.’”

Daryl Leman – Host of Speaking in Tongues/Folkcetera
“I can’t count the number of times we caught up with one another at a local festival or club, usually with him wearing his trademark denim jacket and his long white hair trailing beneath a Greek fisherman’s cap or some other fetching chapeau, and his side stage dance moves were semi-legendary. Ron would often call up during my own CJSW show to ask me about something I had just played or to make some other comment, evidently just to let you know he was out there listening AND that he was paying full attention. As soon as his booming voice announced itself, I couldn’t help but brighten up. His everyday presence and his annual inspirational sermons at the meetings that immediately preceded CJSW Funding Drives will be sorely missed.”

Bob Keelaghan – Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir
“’Don’t ask me how I’m doing; ask me what I’m doing. That way, you’ll get the truth.’ – Rev. Ron”

Compiled by Christine Leonard-Cripps

Originally published in Beat Route Magazine.

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