Did I ever mention I worked for a dinner theatre company a few years back? I had been managing in retail for what felt like 100 years and I just felt like doing something different. It was a crazy gig and it was during that time I met a really adorable girl who mentioned her boyfriend was also in the performing arts. There were quite a few really talented people working as servers at that theatre. It was super cool meeting and working with them even if it was for just a quick summer. I did however bump back into that cute couple a couple years later and found out Alison’s now husband was working on a CD project and I was intrigued. Over the past year Justin Ralph has raised funds, posted performances, got family and friends to rally behind the project, and to be very honest I couldn’t help but get behind it myself. While working hard to get this music out, he got married to his beautiful girlfriend and they had a stunning child. I just had to chat with Justin Ralph and find out what he’s all about.
Bruce: I’m so excited for your new music project and I’ve already viewed your video a dozen times. Tell me where this passion began.
Justin Ralph: I was really into musical theatre when I was in high school, and ended up getting a vocal teacher through my then-girlfriend (now wife!) at the time.
Bruce: Yes and congrats on your marriage and even more fabulous the new baby!! After the vocal coach happened what was the next step for you?
Justin Ralph: I moved to Toronto to go to a joint acting program at University of Toronto/Sheridan College, and my vocal teacher at the time really encouraged me to do opera as well as musical theatre.
Bruce: I would have loved to see that. Was musical theatre your main vocal style because your new project is far removed from those roots.
Justin Ralph: Well as time went on, I ended up doing more and more opera in my lessons actually. I did some auditions, and ended up basically falling into doing opera for the following ten years.
Bruce: Wow that’s pretty incredible. Sing to me!! I’m kidding, but no, really sing….. I’m kidding please continue.
Justin Ralph: Thank you ha! The truth is I really enjoyed my time in it, met some amazing friends, and got the opportunity to do some fantastic shows.
Bruce: I hear a “but” in there somewhere.
Justin Ralph: A few years ago, I woke up one morning, and realized as much as I enjoyed doing it, my heart wasn’t entirely in it. We happened to live in Sudbury at the time, and I went to the folk festival there and totally fell in love with what I was hearing. I went home, determined to change my path, and immerse myself in folk and country music. I bought a banjo, listened to folk and country music 24/7, started doing some songwriting, and slowly wound down my opera career.
Bruce: I was really curious how that transition came about because this project could not be more folk if you were Bob Dillan or Joni Mitchell yourself. I’ve heard it. I love it. I just want to pack my bags, move out of the big city, and hang my hat in the next small easy going town where you can still hear the knife sharpener driving by. Tell me how you did it. How did you make your dream your reality?
Justin Ralph: Yes, so fast forward to 2017. On January 1st, I decided I was going to have two big goals for the year. 1. Be a good father (our first baby was due on January 16th) and 2. record an album. I decided to crowdfund to produce the album, and was incredibly grateful and surprised when I passed my goal and raised about $6,000 to record the album.
Bruce: That’s Brilliant! And your album was born. Tell my readers all about it. By the way did I tell you I have the best readers? I just know they will get behind this music. It’s so relevant with the passing of a folk rock icon this week (Downie)Canadian music and it’s diversity is alive and well. Justin tell my readers about this earthy poetic work.
Justin Ralph: Thanks. The album is called “By The Old Railroad”, and is made up of three original songs and three traditional folk tunes. The originals are all based around my life here in the country, and really inspired by the landscape around me. I wanted to write tunes that felt like they could have been made up about this area 100 years ago. For the traditional tunes, I went with songs that had really inspired my own writing, from the uplifting bluegrass classic “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”, to the dark and moody blues tune that Nirvana covered in the 90s, “In the Pines”. Todd Huckabone, who produced the album, really brought some cool layers to the music that gave it some blues and rock feel, and I was really pleased with how it all turned out.
Bruce: Well clearly I’m a fan!
Justin Ralph: Now that the album is out, I’ve been doing some touring to get it out there, from my small hometown of Kemptville up to the far great north in Cobalt. I’m hoping to make a trip to Toronto soon to do a performance there as well.
Bruce: I know you won’t forget to invite me to your show. I’d love to cover it. Will you come back and give my readers an inside look at your show in Toronto!? I’ll let you let that simmer. No pressure!
Justin Ralph: Thank you and now that my album is out the album is available on my website directly at https://www.justinralph.com as well as iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, and more.
Justin Ralph – Home
Home page of Justin Ralph, a folk singer based out of the Ottawa valley.
Bruce: Well seriously all the best with your album. It’s real, it’s raw, it’s captivating, and it’s so incredibly Canadian and I hope all my readers will make me proud and visit these sites you mentioned and get themselves a copy. I have readers all around the world and I can’t think of a better way for them to enjoy something so intimately local. Thank you so much for spending this time with me. Let’s do this again when you perform in Toronto!
Justin Ralph: Thank you Bruce. Really appreciate you having me.
I hope you all check this guy out! He’s talented! He’s hot! He’s bearded! How can you refuse?
Speaking of Beards! It’s time for Badass B.I.T.C Beard of the Week!!! Drumroll please……
He is a self proclaimed 55 year old kid that loves classic rock (Freddie Mercury and Robert Plant are two of his idols) but he also loves Grace Jones, Donna Summer, Lady Gaga and Pink. Steve loves living in South Florida because he hates the cold weather.
He seems like a cool guy right?? Congrats, you are Badass B.I.T.C Beard of the Week! You are now entered in the year end draw for a great prize! Good luck!
Edited by Mary Ellen Monk
Photo credit for Justin Ralph article: Alison Boudreau