Review: Hurricane Ruth – Born On The River

Posted on: Tuesday, Dec 23, 2014

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Hurricane Ruth – Born On The River

(Self Produced)

This is the second album from Ruth LaMaster and her band (their debut album, which was released in 2012, is entitled ‘The Power of The Blues…..Feels Like A Hurricane’) Ruth handles lead vocals while Dave Lumsden is on guitar, Gary Davies provides bass and Jim Engel is on drums, their sound is hot, heavy and very bluesy.

Her parents owned a tavern along the Illinois River in the town of Beardstown, throughout her life Ruth was surrounded by the uplifting sound of music and the clinking of glasses, both during the good and the bad times and also let’s not forget the lively crowds. Ruth happily absorbed all these influences that prepared her for her future life in music on and off the road. After leaving home to finish her education at Springfield College, Illinois, she was accompanied by her childhood friend Christy Bly, she continued to pursue her musical interests while at college by entering into the company of like minded people such as; Bill Jansen, Doug Rapier and John Sluzalis.

After a while Ruth began to perform in public with Dick Garretson, who also passed on to her invaluable information regarding how to confidently perform onstage and how to interpret the moods of and audience. When asked how she gained such an interesting name she explained that a friend commented to her that it was very surprising to hear that such an enormous sound could emanate from such a small lady, this opinion was later validated by one Willie Dixon when he told her that “You’re the only hurricane I can appreciate”.

Ruth turned fully professional in 1979e and over the years she has worked with Maynard Ferguson and his orchestra, Adrian Belew, and Louis Belson. Ruth has also opened for John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Willie Dixon, Taj Mahal, The Ramsey Lewis Trio, Sam & Dave, Fenton Robinson, and most surprisingly she has also embraced the dark side as in Judas Priest and Joan Jet and The Blackhearts.

After years of nudging towards the big time Ruth took a rest and joined the management at U.P.S. but has now retired after twenty three years of paper shuffling and is now back on the scene stronger than ever!  As Ruth says herself, “I look at this as a second chance to do what I really love,” she says. “It’s truly a blessing to be singing again and working with such wonderful musicians. I just want to give back to the community all that I can.”

The eleven numbers are all band originals and they simply sear themselves into not only your brain but your sensitive eardrums as well; on the first number “Born on the River,” a tale of the highs, lows and enticing attractions of  a life lived by a great river, Ruth lets rip from the very beginning,  her raw and tender voice is very much, a volatile mixture of Janis Joplin and Maggie Bell, Ruth hollers the lyrics out, as the irresistible rip-roaring re-sawing guitar sprays out its fire while the almost military bass and drums engine room marshals the music on.

“Make Love to Me,” is a tale of the ending of an almost a rough and rough love affair, while their engines still burn the bodies twist and turn, as they do, the scarring left by Ruth’s vocals and Dave’s grinding guitar leave welts you can almost see. The demonic entwining guitar work is presented at a much, much slower pace on the aptly titled “Slowburn,” as Ruth belts out her passionate love of music and how it can also seductively set the mood, vocals and guitar are set at a very mellow and inviting edge, slow burning and bristling with enticement all the way through.

“Dance, Dance Norma Jean,” is not only a rocket fuelled barnstorming rockabilly blaster paying tribute to the fifties but, it is also a tribute to her parents and the life they enjoyed. The darkly, sweet bass rolling and guitar rumbling “Big Helen,” is a tribute to an almost treasured brothel madam and the fine ladies she employed, who was not only as sharp as a razor but, also knew exactly how to use one. “Real Good Woman,” is a rumbustious rocking description of an ideal woman that no man can argue with.

Highly Recommended!

BRIAN HARMAN

www.hurricanruth.com

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