Soundcheck Summer Music season opens with Leo Rondeau

Hundreds of people fill the American Legion Park on Saturday night to listen to country musician Leo Rondeau perform.

Country musician and songwriter

Leo Rondeau and his band headlined

the first Soundcheck Summer Music concert

sponsored by the Pinedale Fine Arts Council

on Saturday, June 29. Sunshine and warm

temperatures greeted concertgoers - perfect

weather for an evening picnic with music.

“We had around 700 people at the show,”

said Tim Ruland, PFAC marketing/outreach

director. “It was a great turnout.”

The evening opened with a performance by

local Pinedale musician Jason Tyler Burton.

As the sun began to set, Leo Rondeau, a

wiry man sporting aviator sunglasses and a

long braided ponytail, stepped up to the stage.

Band mates Vaughn Walters on bass and vocals,

John Whitlock on drums and Ben Worley

on electric guitar squinted out into the natural

bright light at the audience.

Rondeau opened the concert with some traditional

country fare – songs about lost loves

and broken relationships. In the song “Get On

With It,” Rondeau recalls the exact moment

he broke up with a girlfriend – 11:38 p.m.

“Central Standard Time.” Rondeau’s advice:

“Get on with it.”

The county musician writes all his own lyrics

and is a notable storyteller. Rondeau told

the audience that the words to his songs take

a back seat to his ultimate goal of “getting everybody

up to dance.”

Rondeau’s verses and choruses stick with

you, however. He sings with openness and

honesty, and the themes he covers are diverse.

Unafraid to put it all out on the table, Rondeau

refuses to shy away from any theme.

One song is dedicated to the last human

truck driver in an imagined, yet probable future

where all trucks are automated. Another

song is about the “Alligator Man” who sleeps

in a bed of Spanish moss deep in bayou country.

Rondeau also sings about pool hall player

Dwayne Felkin who just can’t seem to catch

a break. And no concert in Pinedale is complete

without a song about the cold. Rondeau

performed in Pinedale several times before

his appearance on Saturday, and said he was

glad he wasn’t here last weekend when snow

threatened.

Midway through the show, Rondeau

stepped on the stage alone and some of the

songs took on a more serious and intimate

tone. Descended from the Turtle Mountain

band of the Chippewa Indian Tribe, Rondeau

took on the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the

casino-based economy on some reservations

in one song. Another song touched on the

issue of alcoholism and diabetes that runs in

Rondeau’s family, although he approached

the subject with dry, black humor.

Rondeau left his home in the Turtle Mountains

of North Dakota to pursue his career in

Austin, Texas, ground zero for emerging artists.

Then he picked up his guitar and followed

the well-worn country path to Nashville, Tenn.

People in Nashville cannot appreciate his

song about bitter cold weather like folks in

Pinedale and his mom in North Dakota, he

said on Saturday.

Rondeau’s creative lyrics mixed with traditional

country beats leave his songs stuck in

your head for awhile.

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