Ron Fetner

Seaford-based songwriter Ron Fetner, second from left. (Ccourtesy of Ron Fetner / September 24, 2009)

Ron Fetner is an award-winning songwriter who has managed to keep music at the center of his life for 40 years.

Having grown up in Vienna, Va., Fetner spent years playing with the Washington, D.C., rock band Cherry Smash before relocating to the Peninsula in the 1980s.

Here, he played guitar with blues act Buddy Parker Band and eventually struck out on his own as a mostly acoustic performer and songsmith.

His writing has won him national attention. He's been a finalist at the prestigious MerleFest Chris Austin Song Contest several times and, in 2001, he was picked as a winner in the Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Competition. That attention didn't win him a recording contract, but it did help him get gigs and sustain his career.

Fetner says he was never disappointed that he didn't get signed. "I really didn't expect that anyway," he said. "Acoustic people and some of the alt-country folks were some of the first ones doing independent things. You didn't necessarily have to have a label behind you."

Fetner has independently released five albums of his own songs. He says he's got at least one more in the works.

"I really don't have any regrets," said the 60-year-old musician. "I've known a lot of really great musicians, who, as they got older, just fell out of it. I was just lucky that I was able to stay in."

Here, Fetner talks about his music and the mind set that's helped him persevere.

Home base? Seaford, York County

When did you start playing music? Professionally in the late '60s, based out of Washington, D.C. I moved to the Tidewater area in 1983.

Describe your style. The modern label would be Americana. My roots are in blues, acoustic folk blues, Memphis soul, and rock. The songs on my CDs range from bluegrass-folk to rock, with hints of jazz, soul, and Appalachia. I perform 70 percent of the time as a solo artist but use backing musicians for some shows.

What's your favorite local place to play? Most of my performances are in concert and listening venues, but I have two favorites locally — Williamsburg Regional Library Theatre and Williamsburg's First Night celebration. Both have great listening audiences. Even though I haven't performed there yet, the Bena Country Store is bound to be a great performing location. The 100-year-old building has a great vibe.

Sample set list: I play mostly originals but have recorded cover versions of "Route 66," "Streets of London," "Miss My Mary" and "House Of The Rising Sun."


"Empty House" 1987 [out-of-print cassette release]

"This Box I'm Looking Through" 1996

"Turning For Home" 2001

"Defying Gravity" 2004

"Sunday Morning Blue" 2008