Best known locally for his work as a vocalist, songwriter and cellist with internationally-acclaimed Tucsonan favorites Ronstadt Generations, Michael G. Ronstadt’s latest ventures see him collaborating with a dreamy Cincinnatian indie band, as well as developing what he calls the solo album in which he fully found himself.
Like with many artists of his ilk, including his father, Michael, and brother, Petie, who also comprise Ronstadt Generations, or in his famous aunt, Linda, the path leading him from “Point A” into his current state as a matured singer-songwriter, instrumentalist and performer was not always as straightforward as outsiders may think.
“Growing up with a musical family, I always say it gives permission to consider music as a career option and something to pursue more seriously than one might if it were just considered a hobby,” said Ronstadt. “But, it wasn’t until I had picked up the cello in fourth grade that it had propelled my musical dedication forward.”
Elaborating further on this period of his life, Ronstadt explained, “It spoke to me, and I started playing with different types of music, even with a rock band featuring electric cello at the end of middle school through high school. After that, I ended up pursuing my master’s degree at the University of Cincinnati in cello performance after receiving my undergrad from the University of Arizona.”
From there, Ronstadt decided that “if I was going to make this career work, I had to jump headfirst into it, and luckily, thankfully, life has allowed me to do it ever since.”
His career has seen him swap between Tucson, Cincinnati and Philadelphia as places where he has laid his head, but Ronstadt ultimately chose the former two and not the latter to call home.
“Cincinnati called me back after spending five years in Philadelphia, which never felt like home to me,” he said. “Cincinnati does, and I am always happy to return back to where I grew up in Tucson and be with family. I’m lucky to have two places that feel like home to me now.”
Ronstadt was recently back in Tucson for the holiday season, traveling with Serenity Fisher, frontwoman of the Cardboard Hearts, a theatrical “dream-pop” band from out of Cincinnati which he has brought into his fold performing with as their full-time cellist.
Most recently, the two performed a series of shows from Tucson back to Cincinnati into the earlier part of January. Of particular interest, both had taken part in the recording of the Cardboard Hearts’ debut studio album, Carousel of Love, released by none other than Tucson-based Ronstadt Recording Co. in late 2015.
“Serenity Fisher has an amazing and beautiful way of songwriting that tells stories in a quirky, Tim Burton-esque kind of way,” mused Ronstadt. “Carousel of Love takes you on a journey in ways that you wouldn’t have imagined, but also maintains an air of familiarity about it that I think listeners will truly engage with and relate to.”
After Carousel of Love came the release of Foolish Fox, Ronstadt’s latest solo release. On Foolish Fox, Ronstadt had duly noted, “I guess the big difference between now and my previous solo record in 2010 was that I wanted to take what was in my brain instrumentally and actually record it, so instead of just cello or guitar and voice, you are getting a full band. On this record, I’m collaborating with my dad and my brother, and Alex Flores, from Ronstadt Generations with harmonies and sax, Serenity Fisher does backing vocals, and this presents more of a fuller sound than was intended with past solo releases.”
Outside of the level of collaboration in the performances featured on Foolish Fox, Ronstadt’s intent was to “say what was on my mind and apologize later … in a series of original songs, both self- and co-written, and covers that would sound nice together as a collection of music.” Ronstadt went on to say, “Hopefully it surprises people with its wide breadth of music and takes them on a journey, as well.”
Michael G. Ronstadt will be returning to Tucson from March 17 - 20 for the educational event ‘Common Ground on the Border’ in Sahuarita, and again for two shows with Ronstadt Generations in May: one on May 12 at SAACA’s Oro Valley Concert Series, and the other on May 20 with Petie Ronstadt-recorded Kate Becker for a double-CD release concert.
For more information on Michael G. Ronstadt, Ronstadt Generations, Serenity Fisher and the Cardboard Hearts, Kate Becker, and their respective releases and upcoming shows, check their Facebook “like” pages and their official websites.