You Need Ruby Jane In Your Life
Country music is a funny thing. While on the outside it seems like a pretty “Hee-Yaw!” simple, straightforward artform, country music boasts some of the best maestros that American music has ever seen. Right now there may be half a hundred fiddle players with half their teeth missing, living in the bowls of a Prevost bus rolling down the road with a country outfit that could beat out the first chair violinist of most any given orchestra.
Simply put, the amount of talent in the country music musician pool is sick. And one shining example of this is a 15-year-old girl named Ruby Jane.
When I bumped into her at a John Hiatt show during South by Southwest, I was as star struck as I would’ve been bumping into John Hiatt, or any big name artist. She was taller than I anticipated, probably because I’ve been following her career since she was 13 or so. Ruby Jane is as talented as any other musician out there today, simple as that. And her talent is well rounded. She’s not just a superpicking prodigy, someone like Derek Trucks that can wow you with one instrument but then is a dud of a personality on stage, staring at his fretboard and not engaging the audience at all. Ruby can play guitar, mandolin, banjo, drums, piano, harmonica, you name it, and is a top notch singer and songwriter. And believe it or not, she has a stage presence and can work a crowd as good as any.
Ruby’s real gift is the violin. We’ve all seen the story of the super kid; the child actor, the spelling bee winner or a violin whiz, whatever. They’re used as fodder for the cheezy human interest stories at the end of news programs, but once they hit puberty, more times than not they seem to dive head first into obscurity, never to be heard from again. At age 11, Ruby was already impressing enough people to land on the CBS Evening News, but four years later it almost seems like an insult to call her a “prodigy.” Ruby Jane is a bona fide top tier musician and band leader at any age. She’s not a marvel because of what she’s able to do at 15, she’s a marvel because of what she can do, period.
Ruby Jane has played with people like Willie Nelson, Ray Benson & Asleep at the Wheel, Lyle Lovett, Johnny Gimble, Dale Watson, Marty Stuart, Rhonda Vincent, and on and on. She’s played on the Grand Ole Opry (youngest violinist ever), Austin City Limits, and the historic Kessler Theater in Dallas.
And what does she play? Country and bluegrass, straight up. How about Folsom Prison Blues, or Hank’s Mind Your Own Business, or Cash’s Get Rhythm. Whether playing in Asleep at the Wheel with her mentor Ray Benson, or leading her own band “The Ruby Jane Show,” Ruby Jane is REAL musician that plays REAL country.
If you’ve been noticing, I’ve been linking to videos. You can blow hours after plugging “Ruby Jane” into YouTube. Yes, this comes from experience. The places she’s played, the people she’s played with, and the music she’s done in a such a short span is dizzying.
Ruby Jane is impressive on so many levels, from her playing to her natural confidence and adeptness at showmanship. Nobody looks more at home on stage than she does. But what strikes me most about her, what really draws you in and makes her a singular talent, is her passion. You can see it on her face. When she’s playing the violin she completely lets go of herself. There is complete communion between the music and her motion, her heart and her hands.
I will be interested to see what the coming years have in store for Ruby. As time goes on, the fascination with her age will have to be replaced with originality. However her skill set is so wide and so deep, she could be whatever she wanted. Maybe she will yearn for a simple life and have a mess of kids by 30, or maybe she will move to London and join a symphony. Or maybe she will become a queen of country. Either way, we are all blessed to have someone of such talent and passion call country home, for however long that happens to be.
And let’s stop prefacing her name with an age. The name Ruby Jane says enough.
April 1, 2010 @ 1:37 pm
Outstanding. What a talented young women, I’ve always had a special fondness for the violin/fiddle.
April 1, 2010 @ 2:06 pm
April 1, 2010 @ 2:35 pm
April 1, 2010 @ 3:00 pm
She’s great !!!
April 1, 2010 @ 3:11 pm
GREAT TALENT,I HOPE SHE STAYS WITH IT.
Cathy's Reinstate Hank Bandwagon
April 1, 2010 @ 5:24 pm
thanks for showing us some more great stuff and talent to keep an eye on…it’s not often we catch someone at a young age and have the opportunity to watch them thru the years.
on the other hand when you said,
“Maybe she will yearn for a simple life and have a mess of kids by 30”
i’m guessing you haven’t raised “a mess of kids” cuz it sure ain’t “the simple life”
April 1, 2010 @ 6:00 pm
lol Cathy, good point.
Guess I was trying to say maybe she won’t want a life in show business, though I kind of find that hard to believe that with the way she acts so naturally on stage.
Lord knows I didn’t make my mom’s life simple.
April 1, 2010 @ 6:05 pm
That’s fantastic! I stumbled upon Ruby Jane cruising the myspace a year or so back, probably looking for fiddle players. Nice of you to give her some (more) exposure. Anyone who can rock the fiddle has a fan in me.
Cathy's Reinstate Hank Bandwagon
April 1, 2010 @ 7:50 pm
Triggerman how about fixing us a “share” button so we can get your reviews/blogs out to others on fb?
April 2, 2010 @ 4:41 am
Ruby Rocks ! She’s a phenomenal talent.
David Lee : Chris Arp's replacement
April 2, 2010 @ 9:08 am
Hopefully not a future fiddler for Music Row.
RJ Fan From Austin Texas
April 24, 2010 @ 1:50 pm
I first heard Ruby in September 2007 at an open mike show, she had just moved to Austin. The host of the show, Jim Stringer, later said he was reluctant to let a 12-year old kid on stage. Blew everybody away, including Jim Stringer. After she did a few songs he told her she could stay on stage for the rest of the show if she wanted to (she did). No one in Austin at that time had ever heard of her. That’s all changed now! She’s not only the best fiddle player I’ve ever heard (of any age), she’s also the nicest sweetest young lady I’ve ever met. As Marty Stuart said of her in 2006, “She can melt a rock.”
April 24, 2010 @ 2:08 pm
Great article. In fact the best I’ve read since becoming a Ruby Jane fan 8 months ago. I have been fortunate enough to have seen 7 of her live shows and never 2 the same. She is absolutely phenominal. Her playing of “Ashokan Farewell” and “Nuage” will bring tears to your eyes while “Greasy World” and “Minor Swing” will have your feet dancing on the floor.
RJ Fan From Austin Texas
April 24, 2010 @ 2:34 pm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEA-Aen5cN8 Forgive me if I’m out of line for posting this, Triggerman, but this is a video her Mom just recently found and posted, you may not have seen it yet. It was Ruby Jane’s first music video, age 9, recorded in Taylor, Mississippi. To say that she’s adorable is an understatement. Talk about looking as if she was born on stage! Great quality video too, as good or better than anything you’ll see on CMT.
April 24, 2010 @ 3:13 pm
Not out of line at all. Thanks for sharing!
April 24, 2010 @ 4:08 pm
Lookout, World, it’s Ruby Jane! She’s destined to become and remain a Force For Good in the music world for years to come.
Her fiddlin’ skills combined with her eclectic taste in music means she’s not likely to get pigeonholed into a narrowly defined genre. I’m expecting to see her performing Jazz, neo-classical, Blues, Rock, and of course, Americana and Bluegrass.
And it sure doesn’t hurt that she’s witty, grounded, adorable, and has a sense of whimsy.
We’ll be hearing a lot from Ruby Jane!
Any RJS fans are welcome to check out the Ruby Jane fan forum at http://www.tfctalent.com
April 24, 2010 @ 7:12 pm
Ah ha! Nice website. I was wondering how a bunch of Ruby Jane fans found this story all of a sudden.
RJ Fan From Austin Texas
April 25, 2010 @ 8:52 am
We’re all a bunch of middle aged Ruby Jane “groupies” here in Austin (and elsewhere). Actually, she has fans of all ages,all over the U.S and even the world, everyone who knows her personally thinks of her as their daughter, granddaughter, niece, baby sister, cousin, or just as a wonderful friend. EVERYBODY loves Ruby Jane, you can’t help it. She’s just a sweetheart.
April 26, 2010 @ 6:52 pm
April 27, 2010 @ 6:27 am
This girl is the real deal. Amazing. I saw her play in Austin and now am hooked. I read about her on web..just google Ruby Jane, Ruby jane fiddle, ruby jane smith, all those and you’ll find articles, websites. I am a lifelong fan. She has her head on straight and I think its so cool I found out about her early because it is going to be really cool to watch this legendary career grow and grow. Her musical roots are pwerfully strong and what she does with them is even more out of this world. Her story of her and her mama and her music should be a movie. This is surely the real American deal if there ever was one.
RJ Fan From Austin Texas
April 27, 2010 @ 9:23 am
Welcome to the Ruby Jane Fan Club, realmusiclover, I may run into you at one of her shows (I may already have, since I make just about every Austin show she does, and some out of town, if I can get there!). I’ve been a fan since 2007, and I know what you mean about watching her legend grow. There’s something magical about RJ, especially at a live show, it’s more than just her spectacular musical talent. I sensed it the first time I saw her, even before she started playing, when she was talking to the audience, you could just tell, there was almost a radiance about her. She can make a crowd fall in love with her like no one I’ve ever seen.
May 8, 2010 @ 5:42 am
Saw Ruby Jane playing a private event in Austin… quite a wonderful experience.
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