Tag Archives: louise maggs

163. RUBY AND THE REVELATORS “Walk With Me” (2017)

(Image: O.Stevens)

It’s always nice to hear what Ruby Tiger has been doing with her band The Revelators. So I was delighted when she sent me the download to her debut album Walk With Me recently, followed by a CD copy.

I can’t believe it’s been nearly three years since I was invited to Ruby’s Vistas EP launch back in July ’14 (see my review #16). Since then, she and the band have released a couple of singles (see #62 and #138) and a live EP (see #81), but Walk With Me is their first full album.

Ruby And The Revelators are now a five-piece band consisting of Ruby Tiger herself, of course (vocals); Louise Maggs (guitar); John Whale (bass); Frazer Wigg (keys); and Paco Muñoz (drums). Various other fine musos were brought in as necessary for particular songs.

It is a ten track collection of songs that have been part of their live set for a while now, and therefore were honed to perfection before recording began. Most of the songs I didn’t know, and I was struck by the musicianship; the quality of the song-writing; the recording of them; and the sheer variety included – as Ruby herself says: ‘I didn’t want to be a slave to genre, I wanted the songs to come first, and the emotion behind them’. The excellent lyrics apart from the title track (which are by ex-band member King Rollo) are written by Ruby herself; and music penned by Ruby and various band members.

It is a mix of Soul, Blues and Funk with more than a little Jazz influence – yet a bright, fresh take on all of them with nothing jaded or rehashed. Above all it is a work of undeniable quality and class. These are well written songs that’ll either make you dance, cry, or just nod your head with approval.

Ruby’s vocals are exceptionally good, with her characteristic nuances and subtleties having got even better, and are a joy to listen to. Guitar work by Louise is eye-brow raisingly impressive I must say (I knew she was good but she really shines brightly on this album!)  Keys, bass, drums and other instrumentation are all excellent too, and contribute to a very impressive album.

I particularly liked the opener ‘When I See You’, but there are a lot of possible favourites to chose from in this collection. I love the Bluesy ‘Pity City’; the smoky Jazz club vibe of ‘Cold Cold Winter’; and the fun Blues-groove of ‘Find Me A Man’. I found the laid back ‘By My Side’ very pleasing too with it’s wonderful harp work; and the King Rollo penned title track ‘Walk With Me’ finishes the collection in a pensive mood with heart-felt vocal and beautifully sympathetic guitar. But let’s face it, the whole album is a winner!

The CD version comes in a standard Jewel Case with a booklet stating all the usual credits and thanks etc; plus great pics and all lyrics. Nice cover art too. My copy was signed and contained a lovely personal note from Ruby. It’s one of the best albums I’ve heard so far this year and I’m recommending it highly – worth the wait! Check the band’s website for more info. PTMQ

 

138. RUBY AND THE REVELATORS’ new single “Walk With me”

ruby-tiger-walk-with-meI always look forward to hearing what Sussex-based Blues singer Ruby Tiger has been up to with her band The Revelators. Their new single (released just before Christmas as a digital download only), is a wonderfully moody cover of King Rollo’s heartfelt ‘Walk With Me’. I mentioned Rollo’s original version when I reviewed his album Easy Street a  couple of years ago (see my review #52).

Rollo is of course a close friend of Ruby’s and was once a member of The Revelators himself. His original was a very good song which I liked a lot; but what Ruby and her band have done is elevate it to an entirely different level. Ruby’s soulful vocal on the number is superb – she really feels the song and gives it a generally emotive ambiance.  Musicianship from all the members of the band is wonderful – but especially the remarkable lead guitar from Louise (a little Blackmore / Greeny I thought on first hearing it).

I believe the band are currently working on a new album; and that is something I’m looking forward to hearing, I must say. All profits from the single will go to the charity Hand In Hand For Syria – a worthy cause. It is available from Bandcamp for only £1. A big thumbs up from The Quill. PTMQ.

81. RUBY AND THE REVELATORS’ : ‘LIVE’ at The Tuesday Night Music Club (EP) (2015)

(Pic: O.Stevens)

(Pic: O.Stevens)

I was pleased to receive this new Ruby And The Revelators EP from Ruby herself recently. She had previously told me it was in the pipeline and I know she was very excited about it. Having heard it I can see why!

It was recorded at The Tuesday Night Music Club in Coulsdon, Surrey, UK, on 14th July this year; by Simon Taylor of EQ Audio. It is a five track EP of four covers and one original song.  It is the second EP from the band; the first being the excellent Vistas (2014).

Ruby Tiger of course is the vocalist; and the Revelators consist of:  Louise Maggs (guitar); Russ Grooms (bass); and Vinnie Lammy (drums). Between them they’ve jelled into a fine live band – as is apparent from this recording.  (Louise has recently moved from being bassist in the band to guitarist; replacing Ruby’s great friend and collaborator King Rollo).

The four covers are all well-known Blues staples: ‘They Call It Stormy Monday’; ‘Need Your Love So Bad’; ‘It Hurts Me Too’ (see my review of this Ruby single review #62); and ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’. These songs are so well-known that they need no introduction from myself. I’ve said before that I like covers that are not slavish copies; but rather fresh interpretations. I am not disappointed with these songs, as not only are they subject to Ruby’s genuinely emotional and singular vocal style; but they also benefit from Louise’s wonderful Jazz-orientated guitar chops, which makes every one of them a unique rendition. The only original number on in this collection is the heart-felt Ruby / Rollo penned, ‘Best Friend’ (from the Vistas EP). Again it shines because of vocals and guitar. The rhythm section of Grooms and Lammy are tight, reliable and competent throughout the EP too.

The CD comes in a simple slip case, designed by Ruby and Andy Gooding; with a photo by John Bull of Rockpix on the front. There is a lovely explanatory message from Ruby; and all the basic necessary info / credits etc. It is well recorded; and was mixed and mastered by Paul Long. My only (and very minor complaint) is that I thought the audience applause could have been mixed much louder to emphasise the live feel of the recording. Apart from that I think its a faultless piece of work.

All in all, its a very pleasing EP to listen to indeed, and I recommend it to anyone who likes their Blues on the Jazzy edge of the genre; or to anyone who appreciates great female vocal and fine guitar work. I’m looking forward to a full studio album from the band ASAP. PTMQ

For my review of the Ruby And The Revelators gig at The Chichester Inn, Sussex, in July 2014, see my article #16)

For more info on Ruby & Co (CDs, gigs etc) … http://rubytigersings.com/

16. RUBY AND THE REVELATORS (+PACE COOPER) at the CHICHESTER INN, West Sussex. Sunday 6th July, 2014

RUBY AND THE REVELATORS - Classy blues!  (Photo by Sarah Reeve)

RUBY AND THE REVELATORS – Classy blues! (Photo by Sarah Reeve)

I was surprised and flattered when the singer RUBY TIGER contacted me out of the blue (or should that be ‘out of the blues?’) after having read my blog; to invite me to write a review of her debut EP launch gig at the CHICHESTER INN, West Sussex. I’d heard her name crop up from time to time, but I’d never met her before, nor heard her sing; so I immediately got onto YouTube for some research. What I saw and heard was impressive enough for me to book a motel room near the venue, pronto!

I made the 100-mile drive to Chichester from my base in Essex in two hours. I arrived early enough to sit in on a little of the sound-check; which enabled me to meet the band, and their friends and associates. Ruby (aka Olivia Stevens) is an instantly likable lady; chirpy and fun; confident; full of life; and full of character – just the kind of personality you need to cut-it as a successful singer. She apparently took her stage-name from the beautiful Ruby Tiger moth; and it seems to suit her. She cut her teeth as a singer in a funk band called FUNKY JUNCTION in which she did well; but she became drawn to the blues, and now she seems so comfortable in this genre, that you’d swear she’d spent her entire life on stage belting out blues classics!

Ruby’s excellent band, THE REVELATORS, consist of: KING ROLLO on guitar and occasional bass (another name that I’ve been hearing for a while, but again, never seen); LOUISE MAGGS on bass and occasional guitar (an experienced jazz guitarist and guitar tutor); and the highly capable PAUL WRIGHT on drums. These superb musicians were supplemented by blues-harp player DARREN WALLER (of CLAPTON WALLER RECORDS who had recorded the EP). The appearance of a sax player had also been planned for one song, but he was unfortunately ill. Undaunted, Ruby confidently decided that she’d sing scat over the missing sax solo.

Sound-check completed, Ruby announced that we should all temporarily decamp to the curry house next door for an Indian meal – a ‘Ruby Murray’ with Ruby Tiger! By the time we arrived back at the Chichester Inn, the music room was filling up nicely. Many of the audience seemed to be friends of Ruby and the band, which made for a very warm and friendly atmosphere. Many copies of the EP ‘VISTAS’ had already been sold, and Ruby got to work signing them. Before long it was time for the show to begin.

PACE COOPER - Pretty covers with fine harmonies (Photo by Sarah Reeve)

PACE COOPER – Pretty covers with fine harmonies (Photo by Sarah Reeve)

First up was the support act PACE COOPER. This is a local boy-girl duo, step-siblings CLOE BARRETT (vocals) and TOM LAWSON-BAKER (acoustic guitar) who played a few fine contemporary covers, beginning with Corinne Bailey Rae’s ‘Put Your Records On’. Now I feel I should apologise to Cloe and Tom for not giving their set my full attention as I am afraid I was at the back of the pub chatting away with the Revelators and their friends, but what I heard was very good – especially their version of the old blues classic ‘Cry Me A River’, which was soulfully sung by Cloe with competent guitar and harmonies from Tom. (I managed to see and hear all of that number!) Anyway, they were warmly received by the audience, and thoroughly deserved the applause. Good luck to them both.

After a short break it was the moment we had all been waiting for. Ruby and the band took to the stage to great applause before they’d even played a note. She announced that it would be a two-part set with a short interval. And that they’d start proceedings with the Esther Phillips classic, ‘Aged And Mellow’. I’d heard an earlier Ruby / Rollo duet version of this number, which was excellent, but with the full band it was exceptional; and a great opener. ‘You Gotta Move’ followed with Rollo impressing with his Elmore James-style bottleneck slide technique. Bluesy classics both old and new followed: ‘Lingers’; ‘You Know I’m No Good’; Curtis Mayfield’s ‘People Get Ready’; and Etta James’ ‘Damn Your Eyes’ (which is on the EP).

RUBY TIGER (photo by Sarah Reeve)

RUBY TIGER ‘With these blues I just can’t lose!’ (photo by Sarah Reeve)

Next up was one of Ruby’s own songs (again from the EP): ‘Me And My Tears’. For this jazz number, bassist Louise played guitar; and Rollo, bass. It is a well penned, interesting piece with changing time signatures. Ruby sang beautifully, and Louise’s superb jazz chops were well demonstrated. Rollo did a fine job on bass too. The sax player’s solo was barely missed with Ruby’s improvised scat singing, which proved her versatility on vocals. I spoke to Lou and Rollo at the interval about their role reversal. Lou explained a bit about the chords (but jazz guitar is something of a dark art to me!); and Rollo quipped that as a bluesman ‘if its got more than three chords I want payin’ extra!’

Peter Green’s iconic, laid-back ‘Need Your Love So Bad’ followed. This is often covered of course, but although still an unmistakable Greeny tribute, it was no slavish copy – Ruby and Rollo making it as much theirs as his. Bonnie Raitt’s ‘Love Me Like A Man’ livened the place up again; before they ended Part One on a high, with the fun Sugar Pie De Santo number: ‘Soulful Dress’.

Part Two began with just Ruby and Rollo (as a duet as they had played together many times). So the first few songs of this second part were like a charming cameo – a gig within a gig. Although Darren joined them on harmonica, the musical on-stage chemistry between Ruby and Rollo is obvious – genuine and deep. They began with another Elmore James song: ‘It Hurts Me Too’ with Rollo playing blinding slide again. ‘Georgia On My Mind’ followed before Lou returned to play another good original piece: ‘Payin My Dues’; and the classic ‘St.Louis Blues’. Then it was time for another of Ruby’s own songs from the EP: ‘Best Friend’. Its about her friendship with Rollo and is full of heart and soul. Great applause ensued.

The cameo completed, the full band let rip with the old 1928 Ma Rainey song ‘Big Feeling Blues’ (from the EP). Rollo shared vocals on this too, and played a great solo. Bobby Blue Bland’s ‘Ain’t No Love (In The Heart Of The City)’ followed. I haven’t heard a cover of this for ages – great song, good choice! Next it was time for another Etta James classic: ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’. This show-cased Ruby’s vocals, and whilst some may say that it wasn’t the Beth Hart / Joe Bonamassa version, I can honestly say that it was a close second!

Things were heating up in the audience now. ‘Real Man’ got lots of people up dancing. It was barely ended before the band finished with the lively ‘Shattered Not Broken’. This is the third of Ruby’s own excellent songs to feature on the EP. It went down a storm, and an encore was demanded! Perhaps another iconic song would do the trick? Jimmy Reid’s ‘Baby What You Want Me To Do?’ hit us like a sledgehammer! To paraphrase the song, Ruby had us doin’ what she wanted us to do! The finale was a fun medley that saw a standing ovation from an appreciative audience.

RUBY (Photo by Sarah Reeve)

RUBY had us doin’ what she wanted us to do! (Photo by Sarah Reeve)

Ruby and her band’s repertoire consists of a good selection of carefully chosen bluesy styles – from the jazzy, through the R’n’B, to the rock ends of the blues spectrum, both old and new – reflecting both the depth of the blues genre; and her ability to sing anything within it. At times her voice was mellow; sometimes gutsy; or sweet and soulful as needs be; but at all times palatable; beautiful; controlled; and above all, classy! Another thing I liked was that Ruby has a lovely speaking voice, and has a great rapport with the audience. She speaks to the crowd between songs, explaining them where necessary, and telling anecdotes. So what do I hear when I listen to Ruby? I hear Etta James; a little Janis Joplin; maybe Dinah Washington? But most of what I hear is Ruby’s own unique voice and style – she is creating her own niche as a singer. She has also proved that she can write good original material too. She’s quite a lady!

Now I wonder what the future holds for this blues diva? With performances like this; the excellent debut EP ‘Vistas’; and exposure to a wider audience courtesy of a great article by IAN McHUGH in BLUES IN BRITAIN magazine; the stars are indeed looking very auspicious for Ruby and the Revelators. Hopefully she will get some larger venues to play; and further afield too (having only been as far as High Wycombe); and I’d like to see her as a support act for more big names like the veteran GENO WASHINGTON who she supported recently. Personally, I think she’d go down a storm supporting JOOLS HOLLAND (Hootenanny, next year perhaps?)

Anyway, I think the lady has reached a genuine ‘take-off point’ – this is where an artist ticks over doing OK for X-amount of time and then something triggers a significant boost to their career. Now I don’t know how high this particular Ruby Tiger will fly, but I do know that the cocoon phase is over – the time has come for this beautiful blues butterfly to spread her wings and soar! Someone at the gig asked me if it had been worth driving the 100 miles to see Ruby and co; I quipped that I’d have driven thousand!

If you fancy seeing Ruby And The Revelators live, (and I highly recommend it) they’ll be playing at the Uckfield Blues Festival on Sunday 4th August at 6pm. Link below….

http://uckfieldbluesandroots.co.uk/

If you’d like to buy a copy of Ruby’s 5-track EP, here is a link….

http://rubytiger.bandcamp.com/

Here is a video of Ruby And The Revelators playing her own jazz composition ‘Me And My Tears’ at the gig….

Phil The Music Quill.