Review by Jim Primrock, Colorado Blues
FROST ILLUSTRATED REVIEW - FORT WAYNE, INDIANA---JANUARY
Displaying similar depth from the lady's point of views is JusVon's
labelmate Ruby Hayes, who turns in an absolutely smoldering performance on
"Ruby's Blues." Ironically, Hayes also came to notice at age 14 when she was
selected as the lead singer of Shady Grove Baptist Church in her hometown of
Plumerville, Ark. In addition to her early church upbringing, her parents
exposed her to a wide variety of music including gospel, blues and R&B.
That fed her interests in the music business and eventually to the L'Enfant
Plaza Hotel in Washington, D.C., where she made her professional debut as part
of the Al Martinez jazz combo. After forming her own group, Hayes eventually
met the woman who would prove to be an invaluable mentor, Linda Hopkins, who
was performing in a show called "Me and Bessie." From Hopkins, Hayes developed
an even deeper understanding of the roots of blues and performers like the
great Bessie Smith. Hayes puts all that to good use on "Ruby's Blues." As the
liner notes indicate, Hayes "uncompromisingly and unapologetically sings the
blues." Don't look for any watered down pop tunes or excuses to play flashing
hard rock guitar disguised as blues, as "Ruby's Blues" is filled with nothing
but classic tunes delivered in classy style. That's not to say there's a lack
of diversity here. Nor is that to say she's forgot her early jazz experience.
Haye's covers a wide variety of blues styles, opening with a more recent Denise
LaSalle tune-"Someone Else Is Stepping In"-and moving right to an old Willie
Dixon classic, "Little Red Rooster." She goes even further back into time
picking up Big "Bill" Broonzy's "Trouble in Mind" and W.C. Handy's "St. Louis
Blues." Pay special attention to her approach to the Handy classic-Hayes nails
this one, striking just the right balance between modern sound and time-honored
style. She's equally in the period in the vaudeville-inflected, ribald "Do Your
Duty." That one's a real treat. Along the way, she hits some classic tunes
including "Stormy Monday," "Everyday I Have the Blues," "One Scotch, One
Bourbon, One Beer" and "I Got My Mojo Working." Hayes also takes a turn on the
beautiful "At Last," which forever was immortalized on wax by Etta James. Hayes
turns in a stellar performance of her own, backed by her jazzy combo that
includes Eric Byrd on piano, Joshua Bayer on electric and acoustic bass, Greg
Holloway on drums, David Coles on guitar and Ron Hearns on saxophone. "Ruby's
Blues" by Ruby Hayes is a real treat for those who are uncompromising and
unapologetic about their love for good old roots music.
Ruby Hayes - Ruby's Blues
2004 Princess House Records
subsidiary of Parliament Records
This woman has a smooth clear voice
and sounds as if she is very comfortable with her singing and enjoys what she
does. Listening to this CD is a treat and her gospel beginnings and jazz
influences show through. All songs are cover tunes dating back as far as the
20's with "Do Your Duty" and "You've Been a Good Old Wagon". Several tunes are
jazzed up by the styles of the marvelous sax player Ron Kearns and percussion
styling of Greg Holloway. The first song you'll notice this on is "One Scotch,
One Bourbon and One Beer". What a great rendition of this song. Eric Byrd on
piano has a fun blend of blues, jazz and ragtime type style that comes through
on varies songs. He sure knows how to tickle the ivories. "At Last" is done in
such an absorbing way you just melt into the song; Ruby then adds a less
traditional ending. Two of my favorites were her versions of "Someone Else is
Stepping In" and "I've Got My Mojo Working". David Coles is the guitar player
and it sounds as if he has no trouble going between blues and jazz variations.
On electric and acoustic bass is solid player Joshua Bayer. The band mixes up a
nice variety of slow songs, moderate tempos and the two faster songs "Every Day
I Have the Blues" and "Mojo". While there is certainly a jazzy feel on most
songs, Ruby's voice has a more blues feel. There is a nice mix of songs and all
are done very well.
--- Marla Fitzsimmons, Walla Walla Blues Society,
MAINE CD REVIEW ..
You know how every so often a new artist comes along and
shakes up the whole apple cart with the way they do some of the old standards?
Well, that's exactly what Ruby Hayes has done and it doesn't sound bad.
Actually it sounds pretty good. It took me a couple of songs to get used to it
but I like it. She has taken the songs on this CD like "Little Red Rooster" and
"I Got my Mojo Working" and sung them her way. She has made them her own and
she does it with a voice of a true blues singer. The reason I say "true" is
because she has had the honor of playing Bessie in a musical retrospective
about the lives of Sarah Vaughn and Bessie Smith. Her voice is cool, calm and
reserved in a jazz way that pleases the listener. Her CDs's can be bought on
the internet from CDBaby.com and rubyhayes.com. This CD is worth the purchase.