Roanoke Times

Wytheville Enterprise

Bland County musician opens listening room in Wytheville

By MILLIE ROTHROCK | Staff | Posted: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 5:15 pm

Shh… Listen.

That’s exactly what Ron Ireland wants. The local folk musician has created an intimate venue where the audience can enjoy listening to live music. Period. There’s no food, no alcohol, no dancing; just music.

“I’ve been playing a lot around here since 2011, and there are plenty of opportunities to play, but one thing common to most venues available to most musicians is that the musician is not the primary reason the people come. They visit, eat, have drinks with friends,” Ireland said. “I wanted to have a place that is exclusively for listening, where people are able to sit down and enjoy a very intimate concert.”

Ireland didn’t have to look far for a location: the room behind his Main Street studio, where he teaches guitar lessons. The old, partial log home also houses the office of his partner, counselor Mary Sue Scott.

“The room holds about 30 people, but the acoustics are great,” Ireland said. “We have been toying with the idea for about two years and finally, we said, OK, let’s do it.”

Together, the Bland County residents opened the doors to The Listening Room, where local musician and storyteller Sam Gleaves entertained a full house for two hours Friday evening, along with special guests Leigh Beamer, Linda Kay Justice and his grandmother, Brenda Bradbury.

“In high school, when everybody else was listening to Kanye (West), I was listening to Kitty Wells,” the singer/songwriter said.

“Oh, you just put me in a spot,” Bradbury said after Gleaves called her up to the stage to sing with him.

“But it’s a good spot,” somebody hollered.

Gleaves thanked Ireland and Scott for creating The Listening Room.

“Sometimes you want to play where people are not drinking beer and eating,” he said.

That’s precisely why Quinten Boyles of Wytheville took a seat in The Listening Room.

“Because it’s so quiet and peaceful, you can actually hear the music,” he said. “You don’t have to listen above the noises that are in a bar or pub.”

The concerts are free, but donations are accepted. Ireland guarantees a minimum of $100 for each headlining artist. If donations do not reach $100, Ireland makes up the difference.

“Many places ask you to come and play for tips,” Ireland said. “It’s just a gamble whether you will get good tips or not. We wanted a place where musicians can come and play and make at least $100. The musician keeps every nickel and every penny.”

Every musician who performs will be paid the same and treated the same.

“If Paul McCartney shows up, we will give him $100 bucks, guaranteed,” Ireland said.

The Listening Room will host performances once a month. Ireland said the room is booked through July 2015. On Sept. 26, Jim Lloyd of Rural Retreat will perform old time and tradition music.

“Sam Gleaves, Leigh Beamer and Jim Lloyd, they are all truly gifted and I wanted a place where people could come and really listen and realize what fine, fine artists are right here in their midst,” Ireland said. “Almost every musician wants to be listened to; it’s our raison d’être for what we do. We want people to listen.”

For information on The Listening Room, contact Ireland at (888)265-0324 or

To reach Millie Rothrock, call 228-6611, ext. 35, or email

Marion Star

Songwriters fundraiser is Nov. 3

MARION - A Songwriters' Night will be hosted by bluefusion entertainment at 6 p.m. Nov. 3.

Featuring a lineup of singers and songwriters from near and far, this event will offer four hours of all original songs by the writers who crafted them.

Headlining the event will be award-winning R.J. Cowdery from Columbus, in addition to Tim Wallace from Elyria; Opossum from Marion; Ron Ireland from Effna, Va.; Sur Lawrence Trupo from Elyria; and Jim Schafer from Lakewood.

Co-sponsoring the event will be Stix & Stones Wood-Fired Pizzas, which will be on site preparing a fresh hot pizza for each ticket purchased.

Bluefusion also is offering a $5 Fuser card for each ticket purchased.

In addition, 100 percent of the ticket sales from this event will be donated to the Ohio Wildlife Center.

Ohio Wildlife Center is a leader in wildlife rehabilitation and conservation education, according to a news release. They treat nearly 5,000 animals in their wildlife hospital every year and reach thousands of adults and children through education programs.

They are a private, non-profit organization relying almost entirely on the generosity of individual and corporate donors, private grants, endowments and service fees.

For more information see their site at http://www.ohio

The event will be at bluefusion entertainment, 1340 Mount Vernon Ave. in Marion.

Wytheville Enterprise

These days, Ireland’s songs can be heard in and around the Matterhorn Lounge at the Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theatre and West Wind Farm Vineyard & Winery, where he plays regularly.

 “We are lucky Ron has moved to this area,” said David Manley, general manager at West Wind Farm. “He has great original songs and also sings some familiar favorites. He is always entertaining and everyone enjoys his music. Ron sets just the right mood out here when we are having events.”

Ireland describes himself as a folk country cowboy songwriter. His style successfully mixes traditional country, folk, blues and gospel.

“I’m mostly a songwriter trying to sing my songs,” the Ceres resident said.  “It’s not bluegrass music. It’s not old-time music. It’s 60s folk singer combined with old-time country music like Hank Williams and Ferlin Husky.”

Once he started writing and singing again, Ireland found an entire network of older musicians just like himself who put music on the back burner for various reasons.

He said. “Thousands of us have come back to music after postponing that dream.”

So how does a man who has travelled the world, end up making music in the Blue Ridge Mountains?

“For me, it’s personal,” he explained. “I’ve been all around this world, but when I came here, I just knew. This is the place I wanted to be.”

SWVA Today

From Sept. 25-28, the third annual Abingdon Crooked Road Music Fest will fill the grounds of Heartwood in Abingdon with the sounds of rich history and musical heritage of Southwest Virginia, home to The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail.

The four-day event includes performances and workshops that illustrate the wide variety of heritage music forms the region is known for, including old time string band music, hard driving bluegrass, guitar virtuosos, duets, and more.

We always try to provide a nice mixture of the traditional music forms that have been preserved in Southwest Virginia for generations,” said Jack Hinshelwood, Crooked Road executive director. “People not that familiar with traditional music are often pleasantly surprised at just how diverse it is.”

The festival ends on Sunday, Sept. 28, with Heartwood’s Sunday Gospel Brunch with music by guitarist and singer Ron Ireland performing from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All festival events take place at Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway off I-81 at Exit 14 in Abingdon. Heartwood features food, music, and craft of Southwest Virginia.

Wytheville Enterprise

STRICTLY OBSERVING: Ireland doesn’t disappoint

Zach Cooley | Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2015 8:00 am

As part of our weekly date night, my wife, Emily, and I were thrilled to be invited to attend the one-year anniversary concert of The Listening Room, Wytheville’s most intimate music venue. The 30-seat room located at Ron Ireland’s studio on Main Street hosted a 90-minute show from the owner himself. He and his longtime girlfriend, Mary Sue Scott, have hosted a plethora of the area’s greatest musical talent such as Sam Gleaves, Thom Moore, Leigh Beamer and even Robbin Thompson. However, in my opinion, none are better than Ron Ireland.

The popular folk musician began his musical journey more than a half-century ago when a lonely kid from Cleveland, OH picked up a guitar and taught himself to play. In time, he learned to play every stringed instrument known to man. While being introduced by the love of his life, Ron’s fans, like me, were surprised to learn that his forte was formerly of the jazz genre and that he can play a variety of brass and wind instruments as well. I would love to hear more of Ron’s versatility, a glimpse of which the sold-out crowd witnessed on Aug. 8.

There were fans of all ages from children to senior citizens, all clearly and regularly devoted supporters of Ron and The Listening Room. Several were musicians themselves. Ron’s showmanship and championing of his colleagues clearly has not gone unappreciated.

Ron’s voice matches his character. He is warm, genuine, timeworn, hopeful and cynical. He can make you smile or cry. In this most personal show, he did plenty of both. Fans felt as close to the performer as you could get with this rich set of 16 emotion-filled songs, most of them original.

He opened with the gospel traditional “Hold On” followed by the hilariously satirical “Goodbye, Hot Shot,” a song he wrote for those big acts for which he has opened over the years whose egos were humbled after the customary rise and fall of many professional musicians. Those who snubbed his playing during their peak years eventually wound up joining him again when they came back down the proverbial ladder. “Freedom Song,” was one Ireland and Mary Sue Scott co-wrote about the joy of living and loving together in the mountains of Bland County. It mentions such local spots as Big Walker Lookout and even their border collie Molly.

“Beer Drinking Soul” was a particularly interesting song Ireland penned about an experience poet Miller Williams spoke about during a reading in which he had a drink with Hank Williams in a gas station shortly before his tragic death in 1952. Miller’s daughter, Lucinda, went on to become one of the most prolific singer-songwriters of her time. It was during the original ballad “Ten Cuidado,” that he first broke our hearts. As soon as he mentioned the song was about his daughter, I knew we were going to be a mess. All Emily and I talk about on our date nights is Bella, our fifteen-month old, and hearing that song made Emily cry immediately. By the end of it, it was all I could do to maintain my composure, especially when Ron began to choke up in the middle of performing it.

“My daughter is 35 years old and I haven’t seen her in many years,” he explained in the introduction. “Last I heard, she is in Seattle and doing all right. She is a very successful poet and I miss her.”

For those of us blessed enough to have a daughter to see, love and enjoy every day, it reminded Emily and me yet again what a tremendously blessing we have in Bella. My heart goes out to Ron and I’m more honored than ever by his friendship. His sentiments concerning his daughter were further echoed in the song “Remember Me,” another song written for his little girl. “The Price You Pay” was another tearjerker that possessed a slightly different theme. “It’s Raining Somewhere” had a bluesier feel.

“I wrote this one for a dear friend of mine who was forced with making a very difficult medical decision,” Ron stated. “I’m dedicating it to a lady who is here tonight and she knows who she is.” He closed the first act “Red Rocket Radio,” an homage to the tiny toy that served as his friend as a lonely kid.

“I could stay up past bedtime and listen to the ballgames or Bobby Darin,” he noted. “It was terrific.”

One of his few cover songs was “Last Fare of the Day,” written by contemporary folk artist Richard Shindell,” which he silently dedicated to us because of the lyric about a woman with a baby in her arms. It was yet another obviously moving moment, followed by the traditional ballad “Otto Wood.” Wood was a North Carolinian desperado who died in 1930 after police killed him in a shootout. “Pennsylvania Coal Mining Town” was a tribute to Ron’s ancestry, which included an Italian immigrant named Salvatore who spent his life working in the Pennsylvania coal mines.

“There is one small town where the mine can still be seen on fire,” he said during the song’s introduction.

My personal favorite was “Shallow River,” a gritty, up-tempo song that gave us a hint of Ron’s rock and roll days. “This was the first song Mary Sue ever heard me sing,” he said with a grin. “That was back when I still had a voice.”

After the comically cynical “Loser Song,” Ron closed with a number called “Sword of St. Michael.” After a rousing standing ovation, Ron appeared for one final number, a brilliant acoustic cover of the Warren Zevon classic, “Werewolves of London,” on which the audience joined in. For both Ron’s and The Listening Room’s schedule, go to Neither the man nor the venue can be beat.

A columnist, novelist and author of various other book genres, Zach Cooley lives in Wytheville with his wife, Emily, and daughter, Bella.

The Southwest Times

Evening at Goose Creek Farms benefits Newbern museum

Ron Ireland teaseAn Enchanted Evening at Goose Creek Farms in Pulaski, which will feature a catered dinner and live music in a pastoral setting, is scheduled to benefit the Wilderness Road Regional Museum.

The special evening begins at 6 p.m. July 16 at the extraordinary property situated in the heart of Pulaski County near the historic village of Newbern. Goose Creek Farms, 4588 Hurston Road, features a stunning residence with separate guesthouse and cottage, pool, barns, fenced rolling pastureland, wooded areas and hills. It also offers captivating views of the mountains and valleys.

Goose Creek owner Randy Vaughn is hosting the event in memory of Ann Bolt, who hosted the Hillcrest Garden Dinner and Old Christmas at Hillcrest, both benefiting the museum.

The museum’s signature Cold Harbor dinner, including ham and cold salads, will be catered by Lindy’s Good Foods, and served in a picturesque garden setting under a canopy of trees. For additional fees, guests have the options of a cash wine bar, silent auction and tours of the house, which features more than 6,000 square feet of beautiful art and décor.

Locally renowned singer-songwriter Ron Ireland will provide traditional folk, country, blues and gospel music as guests socialize among the flowers, cool off near the fountain or watch the lively koi pond. Ireland calls his music style “American Clumsy,” with songs that feature “a touch of country, a little blues, a pinch of rockabilly and some old-fashioned finger-picking folk songs.”

Tickets may be pre-purchased at the museum for $30 per person or at the event for $35 per person. All proceeds benefit Wilderness Road Regional Museum, 5240 Wilderness Road, Dublin. The museum can be reached at 674-4835. Hours of operation are 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
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