Marshall Ruffin Trio CD Release Party

Marshall Ruffin Trio and Joe McGuinness

By Caleb Childers
Feb 27, 2009

Thursdays may not be the weekly primetime to see the hottest bands but that does not mean there’s nothing going on in Atlanta.  Last night at Smith’s Olde Bar, the two-act performance of the Marshall Ruffin Trio and Joe McGuinness played to an intimate audience of no more than twenty people.

“It’s so quiet in here, I’m not used to this.  Usualy I feel like I have to play loud,” Said Joe.

And he did anyways belting songs that were self-deprecating and ironic.  The song, “My name is Joe” which talks about the ease with which he can fit all his possessions in his car and how it was no surprise that he, of all people with his uncut guitar chords almost as long as his dreadlocks, once got in trouble for weed.  After a few more solo songs by McGuinness, Marshall Ruffin came on-stage and played a few lead-rythm combos that showed a lot of artistic chemistry between those two.  You could tell they were really getting into it.  In fact, Joe McGuinness did come back on-stage for a few more songs during the Marshall Ruffin Trio’s set.

The set progressed between an Appalachian-sounding and New Orleans Blues sound for three hours and its a credit to the performers that the performance never lulled.  To compare them to an energized Tom Waits would not be a strectch and, in fact, MRT and Joe McGuinness both did Tom Waits covers at some time in the night.  I talk about them simultaneously because for a large portion of the night they played as pretty much one band, riffing off of each other’s stuff and basically turning an opening act and a main act into one big jam band.  There were differences of course: where McGuinness provided mossy-smooth, humorous songs, MRT took that same smooth bluesy sound and invigorated with an acoustic intensity and manual dexterity that warmed the ears.

Let me re-emphasize that the room was, by no means, no means packed.  However, MRT still managed to fill the place with some nice audio intensity.  The whole place was full of life and melancholy at the same time.  Melancholy, because all great blues songs are about rotten, bad luck experiences. And that’s why you need to come to concerts like last night: because listening to all those rotten, bad luck memories is the quickest way to keep you from forgetting you’re alive.

For More info:

Joe McGuinness’ Myspace:
Marshall Ruffin Trio Website:
Marshall Ruffin Trio Myspace:
Smith’s Olde Bar:

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