Ron Hawkins is a Toronto musician who gained renown as the frontman for Lowest of the Low, who sold in excess of 100,000 copies of their two releases Shakespeare My Butt, and Hallucigenia. Hawkins is recognized as one of the best songwriters that Canada has to offer; fans and fellow musicians alike maintain a respect for him that borders on reverence. He is not Rompin' Ronnie Hawkins, an unfortunate mix-up that happens all too often. After the Lowest of the Low broke up, he continued to create music with his newly formed outfit, the Leisure Demons. The Leisure Demons recorded a four-song demo containing songs that would later be recorded by the Rusty Nails. In 1995, Hawkins released his first solo effort entitled The Secret of My Excess. This recording marked the first time that Lawrence Nichols (vocals), Christopher Plock (saxophones), and Michael Kaler (aka Blitz) (bass) recorded as a unit. Soon, this motley crew was dubbed the Rusty Nails along with Rob Fenton (saxophone, violin), and Mark Hansen (drums). Hansen was a member of the Toronto band Dig Circus, which was mentioned in a Lowest of the Low song. The Rusty Nails spent the better part of 1996 and 1997 touring in support of The Secret of my Excess. In September of 1998, their first album, Greasing the Star Machine, was released independently. Greasing the Star Machine is a collection of songs that highlights the continuing growth of Ron Hawkins as a songwriter and musician, and features the talents of the formidable Rusty Nails. Their sound is at times subtle, other times dynamic and aggressive, emphasized by the powerful force of two baritone saxophones. In 1999, Fenton left the group to pursue bartending full-time, and Jason Walters stepped in to play the baritone sax. Julie Penner often plays with the band, adding violin to the mix. The band has supported Billy Bragg, the Violent Femmes, Cracker, and Big Sugar. In 1999, there was a wealth of new material that the band was playing live. They decided to go into the studio with Ian Blurton, of Change of Heart and Blurtonia fame, in the producer's chair. A new album was scheduled for release in 2000. Ron Hawkins and Mark Hansen are both members of a side project called Hummer, which released Electrically Operated Product in 1997.
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