Rodney James and the Riot enjoy unpredictable uprising

Rodney James and the Riot are, from left, Tyler Smith, Braden Ruckle, Dany Ainsworth and Rodney James Medwid. Photo credit: Cassidy Crowe

Cathy Dobson  

Sometimes you find the right guys and it all just clicks.

That’s Braden Ruckle’s explanation as to why he and his bandmates are achieving so much so fast with Rodney James and the Riot.

Frontman Rodney James Medwid heartily agrees.

“I’m from Calgary and played the scene there for about 10 years,” he says.

“When I moved to Sarnia, I didn’t think I’d play anymore. I wasn’t sure there’d be the time or an audience.”

But within weeks he’d met some local musicians and landed a few gigs. Medwid was soon collaborating with Dan and Ben Ainsworth and put together his first Sarnia band called Rodney James and the Ainsworth Bros.

One day when Medwid was singing on stage at Paddy Flaherty’s Tyler Smith happened to hear him.

“I’ve been playing in bands since I was 13,” explained the drummer, now in his mid 30s. “My father, Pete Smith, was a local musician and he bought me my first drum kit when I was six.

“That night at Paddy’s I decided I wanted to play with this new guy on the stage.”

Years before at St. Patrick’s high school, Smith got to know guitarist Braden Ruckle and they’ve played off and on for 15 years.

So when Smith and Medwid began jamming, Ruckle came on board, as did Dan Ainsworth on bass.

They formed Rodney James and the Riot about a year ago and produce their own material with the help of soundman and producer Jason Green.

“We each pull our weight to find gigs and that helps me have time to write tunes,” said Medwid.  “We all learn off each other. We all care so much about our craft and try to make things right audio-wise and visually.”

That says a lot given they each have heavy schedules, are all in business and have young families.

Medwid describes the band’s music as a mix of blues, grunge and folk with a hint of country.

“There’s some rock in there too,” adds Ruckle.

Influences include the Foo Fighters, Tom Petty and Soundgarden.

“We draw from those influences when we write,” said Medwid. “I’ll write the body of a song and everyone else throws their beautiful icing on top.”

Their connection to the local community and their original sound are paying off with a stream of high-profile gigs and a new album release.

This past year saw them perform at Artwalk, Beats on the Street, Bluewater Borderfest, a Duc cruise and Paddy’s. In December, they were invited to play at a live broadcast of Hometown Hockey in Chatham. On March 25, they’ll be on Global TV’s “The Morning Show” with a new single called Random.

“It’s the perfect morning song,” said Medwid. “It’s bright, energetic…less serious to start the day.”

Crazy, their new release, is getting a good reception, added Smith.

It can be heard on various online platforms including Spotify, iTunes and Google Music.

The band plans an album release party on April 19 at Collide in downtown Sarnia. Local band Peace Pilot will also perform that night.


WHAT: Rodney James and the Riot album release

WHERE: Collide, 148 Front St. North.

WHEN: April 19. 7 p.m.

TICKETS: $10 advance. $15 at the door. Can be purchased in person at Norton Hairstyling, Ruckle Hair Concepts or Woods Hair Salon.