I’m convinced. Ruby Jane was sent to earth by God to save country music.
All accolades I lapped on the 15-year-old fiddle-playing fenom when I said You Need Ruby Jane In Your Life were validated, if not proved to be too tempered after seeing her live at Dallas’s historic Kessler Theater on Friday.
Really, I don’t know what to say. There are no words to express Ruby Jane’s talent level, because it is nothing like I have ever seen before, in a musician of any age. And I’m not just talking about her fiddle playing, I’m talking about all of it: songwriting, showmanship, singing, even her guitar playing. And overriding all of this effusive talent is a passion for the music second to none.
Ruby Jane is filled with the Holy Ghost of country music my friends. Its the only explanation. This is evidenced by Ruby’s tendency to shout out wildly on stage. Her music mixes jazz elements with country, giving it a very Western Swing feel, and these shouts work similar to the sighs and such you hear on old Bob Wills recordings. I’d seen Ruby do this in videos, but watching her live, you catch on that these shouts are involuntary, not a stage bit to emphasize the music. Something bigger is at play in her when she plays, and her shouting is an ecstatic reflex to her euphoria for the vibrations that create sound to the human ear.
Ruby Jane makes hokey songs cool, like Willie Nelson’s “Valentine.” She makes heady songs accessible, like Django Reinhardt’s “Minor Swing.” Her music is transcendent. Put a 10-year-old girl, or an 80-year-old man, a pop country devotee or a gutter punk in a Ruby Jane show, and they will all be mesmerized.
Recently Ruby has added a new wrinkle to her show, which is just taking the acoustic guitar and singing alone. If her other attributes weren’t enough, she’s added a unique, beautiful, vintage, and heartbreakingly soulful singing style.
Ruby Jane is a fighter. When she slung her guitar behind her back and grabbed her fiddle to take a blazing solo, she looked like a warrior. She’s fearless. Anything she wants to do, she does. I’d hate to be in a position to have to say “no” to her about anything. She’s principled, and refreshingly straightforward and honest. She’s hardworking. What I’m saying is Ruby Jane has character, keeping watch over this ridiculous amount of talent.
I truly am speechless about this girl. I’m tongue tied and vacant for eloquent ways to explain how I feel about her music. But I will say this: And if you’re reading this with one eye or have the TV on in the background, stop whatever else your doing, I need you’re undivided attention.
Ruby Jane needs us, and we need Ruby Jane. I am not asking you, I am not pleading with you. I am ordering you to rise up in support of this young girl. We are the grass roots. The shattered pieces of the heart of country music are sheltered in each one of our souls, waiting for the day when the pieces can be united again as one. It is a long fall from the top of the high-rises on Music Row. But where the grass grows there’s a strong foundation, that weathers the fads of popular culture, and nurtures artists from the bottom up.
This is one of those instances when the situation transcends silly arguments about preference in music style, and it becomes about life, and about the principles we all hold dear. Ruby Jane is 15-years-old, with young fans. As adults, we look our children, our grandchildren, our nieces and nephews straight in the eyes and tell them that they can be whatever they want to be with talent and hard work, and that heartfelt genuineness is rewarded.
But in the music world, mediocrity is rewarded more often than not. Imagine a world where the worst scientists were rewarded just because they were the most physically attractive, or where a middle-of-the-road football team was given the Super Bowl trophy because they were the most popular. This is the world of music these days. But the tide is turning.
But we can’t let this happen to Ruby Jane, and all the other top talents that we are so blessed with. So tell a friend. And then tell another about Ruby Jane. They may have the radio and the record labels, but we have each other.
In the long term, I like our odds.
Purchase or preview the Ruby Jane “Live at Roadhouse Rags” album by CLICKING HERE.