Blues with splashings of rockabilly and country you say? That would be Bristol born and bred Ruzz Guitar's Blues Revue. Ruzz Evans AKA Ruzz Guitar started off the band in 2014 and has picked up a burning momentum with 2 self released albums to date in the self titled “Ruzz Guitar's Blues Revue” and “Burn Out” with the latter featuring collaborations with legendary Dr Feelgood member, Pete Gage. These albums have been taken to by many and well received critically. Ruzz plays an inordinate amount of shows a year as a trio along with a big band and has recently opened for world renowned blues guitarist Kirk Fletcher for the second time and also the well revered Big Boy Bloater on his recent UK tour.
Peaked your interest in someone you may not have heard of on the scene as yet? Read on for our chat with Ruzz who you’ll find passionate, determined and always with a plan...
How did you first get turned on to the blues and rockabilly?
“It’s what I grew up with really, although that sounds cliché. My Dad was always playing albums by Dr Feelgood, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Nine Below Zero, all of those guys so it’s really within me. I remember my Dad telling me a story that when my Mum was pregnant with me, they went to a Dr Feelgood show so I guess it was bound to happen!”
So this led to wanting to play yourself?
“Yeah, that’s kind of natural for all of us who play I guess. It started by me starting on bass at 14 then on to the guitar at 15 and I spent hours and hours learning songs by all those aforementioned bands and others. My first band was a little trio playing around Bristol, I was on bass at the time, but when I saw George Thorogood at the Colston Hall he really resonated with me and I thought “Wow, that’s what I want to be doing! I wanna play slide guitar like him!”. Leaving the bass behind and getting more into the guitar, Jimmy Vaughan really reared his head along with Wilko Johnson and it was really seeing all these different styles that I thought, “I have to do all of that.” so I locked myself away, said goodbye to my teenage years, ignored all the girls and really focused on playing and learning as much as I could get my hands and ears on. The first band I played guitar in was with Dad...and it’s gone downhill ever since!”
Like many others, you’ve dipped your toe into other bands and styles, such as rockabilly in The Red Hot Trio, yet now you’re settled with Ruzz Guitar's Blues Revue…
“Oh, the Blues Revue is definitely my main thing. I kind of fell into the rockabilly stuff through a friend of my Dad’s who say me playing on my first gig with the old man, who then mentioned me to his bass player friend so I ended up playing a few gigs with them, which went on to more and some other things like The Red Hot Trio, Brian Setzer is a big hero of mine, but Ruzz Guitar's Blues Revue is truly where my heart and passion lies. We’ve been going for just over 3 years now it’s growing all of the time, a lot faster than I expected to which is really cool and fun. Never a dull moment!”
You come across as very focused about what you do with the Blues Revue…
“Absolutely, it’s my band, my business and I get to put so much into it so I get to really push it and wherever we play, people take to us which is great. We play a lot of shows, festivals, pubs, clubs you name it. We’ve released 2 albums so far, the first in a self titled one which we recorded in a day. That really helped us gain more gigs, gave us something to sell, it’s all our own material and helped shape our sound. This was followed up by the 2nd in ‘Burn Out’ which is a step up from the first. You mentioned when we talking prior the difference in production, that the first is louder. That’s in part due to wanting something ASAP to dish out, yet on ‘Burn Out’ we spent more time thinking about the sound along with writing the songs. I’m really proud of both of them and love playing the songs live, that’s where it’s at for me.”
You’ve spoken of a few players that have influenced you; any other influences as I can hear some potentials in listening to certain tracks on both of your albums...
“Yeah, there’s always lots of different ones and we’re all a mixture of the things that we like.
BB King is an influence which you picked up on, I love all of the Kings but there’s just something about what BB did, how he played, how he performed that does it for me. It comes back to the Jimmy Vaughan thing in that the solos are saying something and not just an excuse to go ‘HEY! Look what I can do! Widdly-diddly-do!”. I’ve got no time for that and it’s not who I am at all. There’s also a few songs where people like your good self have kindly said that they’d fit in a Tarantino film which is funny as that’s exactly how I think when I’m writing instrumentals - ‘Dirt Track’ definitely and ‘Gasolina’ from my first album were written like that. When I’m writing I’ll always take things to Joe Allen (bass player), who’s got such a great ear, and we’ll twist things until we have what I can hear in my head. Some of the songs and riffs I’ve had kicking around for a while but could never quite finish them or get them right so playing with the guys and people like the amazing Pete Gage (Dr Feelgood) on ‘Burn Out’ really kicks your ass into gear.”
We’ve talked about your influences and styles, how is that going to affect you next album, going for a big band feel are you not?
“The new album will be within a year’s time all being well. For me having a range of ideas and influences it means I can take bits from different things and mix them together; you know playing a blues song but add some country spice to it. That kind of thing makes heads turn and not just the usual I-IV-V thing that’s so been done to death. It’s going to be a bigger album, a bigger sound, a bigger band. As a reference point think Jimmy Vaughan with the horn section then amp it up to Brian Setzer orchestra feel and you’re on the right track. We’ve recorded some already, working a little with the great Eddie Martin who’s a legend on the blues scene here. We’ll be recording again with Matt Sampson here in Bristol at Bink Bonk Studios which is a really cool facility to play and record in. I’m listening to a lot of big swing blues records at the moment so that will certainly play a part in my writing. If you remember the film ‘Swingers’, sounds dodgy but it’s not if you haven’t seen it, there’s a band in that called ‘Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’ with this awesome swing thing so that vibe will be there along with the others guys mentioned. At its base level, it’s taking what we did with ‘Burn Out’ and giving it a kick in the ass to take it up another level. I can’t wait, I’m excited about it already as for the launch, which we plan to release as a live album after, and we’re looking at a 6 piece horn section, keys, backing vocals all in addition to me, bass and drums. Man, it will blow your hair back.”
That’s getting like Joe Bonamassa with a studio album and a live album in the same year…
“Well that model works, so why not try it yourself? Joe and his manager did it all from the ground up with that model, booking their own shows etc and it’s been an inspiration on the business side for me. I do all my own promo, production, PR, booking shows; it’s cool and gives you such a satisfaction instead of having things just handed to you like some. As long as what you’re putting out is good, there’s no need to worry. Some artists will release anything and everything they do and all too quickly, but that isn’t me. I plan in advance, have a timeline and look at what’s going on around me in those moments also, you need to know when the time is right and have a plan. Some people give Bonamassa stick for it, and you can give me stick too for following that idea on a smaller scale at this time, that’s fine by me but there’s really no need to - you can find something good or something that you can use anywhere and if you don’t, keep looking. It’s all about the music, playing for people and seeing them have a good time, enjoying it and being able to do it full time..so far, so good and I wish that for others also.”
Some USA shows came about early in 2017 and you’re back over there for a tour in April 2018. How has your style and music been received there?
“In truth, it was just me and partner that went over on sort of a hijacked holiday where I ended up playing a load of gigs! The shows came about from me having a lot of musician friends out there who were all like ‘Man, you should play at this place, I gotta get you a show at that place, you should come and tear up this other place..’. They ended up booking me shows in Texas, Nashville, Michigan so I am very grateful to them for that. The shows were great, playing with local cats who were all right on point and people really seemed to take notice of what I do. Last year I was truly honoured in becoming a Gretsch guitars endorsed player, it was a lot of hard work and playing but I am so made up with that as they are the guitars for me without a shadow of a doubt. I got to meet Joe Carducci in person at the factory and had a tour out of hours from him which was really cool. I’ll be at the NAMM show with them next year which I’m really looking forward to and will probably do a couple of shows around that. There’ll be other shows in the spring and we’re looking at Canada also. I can’t wait to get back out there as there’s some great bookings coming in as a result of the hard work I and those close to me put in and not mention those that have come out to see me play and buy the albums. I’m really appreciative of it all.”
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