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Artist of the Month for January 2003: Rick Ruskin

Name: Rick Ruskin
Age: 54 (official geezer age and then some)
Town:Seattle WA
Hometown: Detroit Michigan

At what age did you start playing guitar?
In 1962 at age 14

First guitar:
Kay Classic

First gig:
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.

Favorite Guitar(s):

Your Style:
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.

Practice Regimen:
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.

Favorite Artist(s):
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.

AOTM Archives:

August 2008 - Danny Combs
March 2006 - Bryan Clark
Februry 2006 - Darin Leong
January 2006 - Andy McKee
December 2005 - Don Alder
November 2005 - Doug Young
October 2005 - Nancy Conescu
August - September 2005 - Warren Greig
July 2005 - Ian Melrose
June 2005 - Roger Lasley
May 2005 - Jim Tozier
April 2005 - Jessica Papkoff
March 2005 - Todd Habekost
February 2005 - Michael Hewett
January 2005 - Steve Barney
December 2004 - Tony McManus
November 2004 - Chris Newman
October 2004 - Kevin Kastning
September 2004 - Rick Duke
August 2004 - El McMeen
June-July 2004 - Charles David Alexander
May 2004 - Tony Capri
April 2004 - Shane Simpson
March 2004 - Bill Cooley
February 2004 - Greg Meckes
January 2004 - Gary Leek
December 2003 - Ernie Hawkins
November 2003 - Keith Knight
October 2003 - Jaquie Gipson
September 2003 - Chuck Durfor
August 2003 - Cathy Horner
July 2003 - Art Edelstein
June 2003 - Muriel Anderson
May 2003 - Clarelynn Rose
March-April 2003 - Steve Wildey
February 2003 - Rick Ruskin
January 2003 - Kerry Kling
December 2002 - Tim O'Brien
November 2002 - Howard Emerson
October 2002 - Dennis Roger Reed
September 2002 - Larry Pattis
August 2002 - Paul Asbell
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