Published Mar 02, 2015As far as his fans are concerned, Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Hawkins and his backing band, the Do Good Assassins, can do no wrong.
Since his early days in the Lowest of the Low, Hawkins has held a special place in the hearts of many across Canada and the U.S. In Luck's Hard, directors David Brown and Daniel Williams take a look into Hawkins, his band, and the ups and downs of his career, all while focusing primarily on the recording of his most ambitious album to date: Rome, a self-financed debut double-disc that positions itself against the singles and albums given away for free in the music world today.
Those familiar with documentaries about the process of recording an LP (especially one from an independent artist such as Hawkins) will find the plot of the film fairly familiar: songwriter finds band, feels reinvigorated, records album with said band, and continues to try and make a name for himself in a market filled with other groups desperately vying for attention. But what sets Luck's Hard apart from similar documentaries is its subject. Having come of age musically in the mid-'90s, Hawkins has seen trends pass and fade and bands come and go. Although he's never quite had the same level of success as other folk-inclined artists in North America, he's held a small, fervent fan base (especially in Buffalo, a fact dissected and examined in great detail in the film's latter half) who have stayed with him every step of the way.
Luck's Hard is by no means a flashy documentary; the only real drama that happens in the film involves guitarist Steve Singh nearly losing his leg due to a flesh-eating virus originating from an uncured case of strep throat, a segue that feels as strange as the sickness itself. The most resonant parts of the film are when each of the band members — especially Hawkins, speaking from the point of elder statesman — sitting in the studio, discuss their careers and the twists and turns they experienced along the way (i.e. money, marathon recording sessions and more).
Ultimately, Luck's Hard isn't so much a film about a double-album, but making it as an artist in modern times (and on a smaller scale than had originally been planned). As such, the film may not be the most interesting of documentaries for the casual music fan, but it's a must-see for all Canadian musicians trying to make it in the business today.