Ron and The Hip Tones share life lessons and radiate pure joy at Free At Noon - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
Ron and the Hip Tones Free at Noon - 4.05.2024

Originating from Philadelphia, singer Ron Aikens has traversed life’s highs and lows, navigating the unpredictable terrain of the music industry intertwined with personal struggles. At this week’s Free at Noon, Aikens unveiled a glimpse of his debut album, Life is a Love Song.  It was Ron and the Hip Tones‘ Free At Noon debut and they kicked off the hometown show with the soulful “Cold Wind,” setting the stage for lines about being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Aikens’ journey, started with his involvement with the band United Image and veered into unexpected territories – mirroring the themes of the song, it led him to a stint in Graterford Prison. However, even amid adversity, Aikens’ passion for music endured, as he became a part of the all-prisoner soul/funk band, Power of Attorney, alongside his fellow inmates.

The birth of Ron & The Hip Tones traces back to Aikens’ days as a janitor at Philadelphia City Hall, where his musical talents emerged during karaoke sessions under an alias. Recognizing his profound musical prowess and rich history, Max Ochester, of Brewerytown Beats and LOVE Records, spearheaded the re-release of Aikens’ past works, culminating in the formation of Ron & The Hip Tones.

Aikens’ triumphant return to the stage after three decades occurred this past fall at World Cafe’s Lounge. Today he effortlessly maneuvered through his set, sharing messages of love, resilience, and triumph, with tracks like “Shame” and “Life is a Love Song,” reviving the essence of Philly soul. “People” hearkened to his work in Power Of Attorney with its inspiring uptempo groove and a sweet flute part delivered by Elliot Levin. Guest vocalist, Philly poet Ursula Rucker, shared a spoken word piece at the end of the song adding to the powerful message that people are not just ordinary, we are extraordinary. With their unwavering commitment to their authentic and vintage sound, Ron & The Hip Tones epitomize the essence of classic R&B and funk, with Aikens’ compelling storytelling resonating in every performance, embodying a strong-willed human spirit.

Their latest single, “Tear on my Chin,” infused with bluesy warmth, evokes a poignant sense of despair, heightened by the harmonizing backup vocals. “Criminal,” a standout track, captivated the audience with its pulsating rhythm of a thumping bass drum and crack of the snare. It had the audience clapping along before the bold line “In your eyes I am a criminal” came in. This heartfelt song embodies Aikens’ journey of redemption and forgiveness.

Just when the audience thought the performance had reached its end, they were treated to an encore featuring a timeless Philly tune: their rendition of The Intruders’ “Together” was a groovy, uplifting finale, with Aikens and Ursula Rucker dancing around the stage, Ron closing out the Free at Noon performance with thankful goodbyes. Life is a Love Song is expected to release later this year; listen to Ron and the Hip Tones’ debut EP here.

Ron and the Hip Tones
Free At Noon
  • Cold Wind
  • Shame
  • Life Is A Love Song
  • People
  • Baby Are You Ready
  • Tear On My Chin
  • Criminal
  • Do What I Want
  • Together
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