Singer-songwriter Ronnie Taheny is bringing the curtain down on her 35-year career as a touring, do-it-yourself musician with a final show at The Gov she’s calling ‘The Last Swim’.
The show will be a fitting farewell for Ronnie who, for the past 25 years, has made an annual pilgrimage back to Adelaide from her haunts in Europe to perform a special one-off show.
“I was based in Europe for 25 years as a touring singer-songwriter, but I always came back from late November through to the end of March, as long as I could make it, because winters are pretty unnecessary in this world I reckon, so I would never stay [for] European winters that’s for damn sure,” Ronnie laughs.
“There are a lot of [young musicians] who have no idea.”
“So I would always come back and during that time having a break from touring I’d always do this one, annual show at The Gov, a sort of 200, 300 people, sit-down-and-shut-up affair.
"That would be my token gesture when I was back in Adelaide.”
At this stage of her career, Ronnie has attained a type of cult status as a folk fairy godmother and says her departure from the stage and touring circuits is timed right. “I’m a big believer in you have to jump before you’re pushed,” she says.
“In the arts there tends to be a lot of latitude given to people who are past their prime, not really cutting it anymore but no one’s going to tell them. It’s a bit sad onstage, they haven’t got any other skills and so that’s where they are.
“I also appreciate they love it and don’t want to give it up, but sometimes I think I’d shoot myself. I really don’t want to be one of those people, so I’m happily passing the baton to the next gen.”
It’s this next generation of emerging artists that will now receive the full benefit of Ronnie’s wisdom as she shifts focus to her label/ consulting firm Arty Records, through which Ronnie strategises with young musicians to guide them into a fulfilling career.
“There are a lot of graduates coming out who have no idea,” she says.
“They honestly do believe that if they’ve got their chops together and are pretty enough it’s going to work. I go see them live and I work on their strengths.
“I take little edges off and give them really simple tricks that make them a pro, to give them a bigger dimension of personality onstage, make them more dynamic onstage and, of course, to do all the back-end stuff simultaneously.”
Basically, she’s the bumper on the bowling lane that nudges the ball away from the gutter when it looks like falling over the edge, gently redirecting it towards its end-goal.
'The Last Swim’ show at The Gov will be a two set, retrospective performance of Ronnie’s immense discography that has been selected by the fans themselves. “What I did last year knowing that I was probably going to wind it up was I did a survey.
“I asked people to list their top favourites from all my albums and I compiled them all and that’s what they’re getting this year whether they like it or not. It’s getting jammed down their throat,” she laughs. “They told me, so I’m just following it.”
Ronnie Taheny performs ‘The Last Swim’ at The Gov (Adelaide) 3 February.