Artist of the Month for January 2003: Rick Ruskin
Name: Rick Ruskin
Age: 54 (official geezer age and then some)
Hometown: Detroit Michigan
At what age did you start playing guitar?
In 1962 at age 14
1st club gig was opening for Gary Davis in 1964 at the Retort Coffee House in Detroit
Acoustic Guitars you own:
McAlister FA model (prototype), Wm. Stahl (by the
Larson Bros,) S.S. Aitken 00-40 copy, Fender Duo-Sonic, Telecaster,
Frankencaster (homemade Tele body with tele custom hardware and somebody's
humbuckers all kludged together, Stratocaster, Peavey T-60.
People have been asking me that since forever and I never
know what to tell them. I'm a fingerpicker who isn't content with the
limitations most see in the genre. Best description I can come up with is
"predominately pop" fingerstyle.
How did you develop your style?
By 1st mastering traditional fingerstyle techniques and then attempting to use them to emulate popular music that I was hearing on the radio. When tradition failed me, I figured out what I had to do to get the job done and still be true to the music.
None, really. I just start to play and experiment around until I find Something I think is worth working on. If trying
to arrange a non-original piece. I go about it differently. 1st figuring out the progression. Doing a "stick" version so I know where the tune goes and then honing In on the elements of the original track that made me take notice in the 1st place.
Steely Dan, James Taylor, Frank Zappa, the Eagles, Ray Charles, Gary Davis.
An Anecdote or interesting thing that happened to you along the way:
After what seemed like an awfully long night at the old Ash Grove in Los
Angeles, a guy comes up and asks what kind of a guitar I was playing. I figure he's just another folk-dork who was going to drive me nuts with questions. When I tell him it's a Stahl, he says, "My mother had a small Parlor made by them." He asks if he could play it and I hand it to him. Whereupon he plays a few bars of some of the most blistering fingerpicking I'd ever heard. Then he stops, puts out his hand, and says, "By the way, my name is Dick Rosmini."
I picked up my jaw off the floor and said, "Pleased to meet you."
Is there anything else you want people to know about you, your playing style or your views on today's music in general?
I think the main difference between myself and other pickers is
that I stopped using other guitarists as models very early on. I listen to bands/ensembles and try to capture their magic without shoe-horning things into a specific finger-style. I wish more players would pay more attention to melody and tone production. Also wish players would stop using pick-ups on the solo recordings. Pick-ups are fine for live settings where you need lots of gain without the feedback hassles of a mic. This is a non-issue in the studio. I know I'm in the minority on this, by the way.
Visit Rick's website at Lion Dog Music.