American Showplace Studio
Ruth LaMaster a.k.a. Hurricane Ruth is from southern Illinois. Her father Milt owned the Glendale Tavern in Beardstown. On Sundays Milt would host jam sessions and sit in on drums. Ruth who was inspired by Bessie Smith, Ray Charles, Dinah Washington and Ella Fitzgerald, began singing Blues, Jazz, Country and Rock n’ roll. She began performing professionally in 1979 and started as a dancer which helped her develop “a good internal rhythm”. She finally released her debut album “The Power of The Blues…Feels Like A Hurricane” in 2012 and competed in the International Blues Challenge. Follow-up albums include 2014’s “Born on The River”; 2015’s “Winds of Change”, and her last album 2017’s “Ain’t Ready For The Grave”. Over the years Ruth has been on stage with John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Willie Dixon, Sam and Dave, Taj Mahal, and more recently Royal Southern Brotherhood, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Ronnie Baker Brooks. Ruth adds “to be able to sit and talk with Willie Dixon after one of my shows, that’s something I won’t ever forget, I gained a great amount of knowledge just from listening to him.”
For her fifth studio album vocalist Ruth is accompanied by Scott Holt, guitar; Bruce Katz, keyboards; Calvin Johnson, bass; and Tony Braunagel, drums. The album was recorded, mixed and mastered by the late Ben Elliot at his Showplace Studios and one of his last projects. Eight of the ten tracks are written or co-written by Ruth.
When writing “Like Wildfire” Ruth recalled those early days at The Glendale Tavern performing with her father and the memories inspired her. This relentless rocker showcases the band and her powerful, soulful vocal. Holt’s rockin’ guitar, and Katz’ piano are featured. It is co-written with Nashville songwriters Kenneth Wright and Joel Hutsell.
Several of these songs are inspired by conversations Ruth had with her mom. My favorite “What You Never Had” comes from her mom’s commentary “I don’t understand people. They’re always goin’ on about not havin’ this or that. Why worry about “what you never had”. This and “Dirty Blues” were co-written with Tom Hambridge who produced her last album. On the former Katz’ switches to the B-3, while the latter features Holt’s wicked guitar.
Three more songs were written with Holt. The title track, “Good Life”, is also based on a talk with mom about a year before her passing. “Black Sheep” is based on Ruth’s reflections of when she was a little girl; while the fiery rocker “Late Night, Red Wine” is from a morning conversation with a roommate.
“She’s Golden” was co-written with guitarist Bart Walker, a late addition to the Royal Southern Brotherhood; and “Who I Am” is from Ruth and drummer Darin James of the Stacy Mitchhart Band featuring Katz’ organ and Braunagel’s beats. These are two more great vocal performances.
“Torn in Two” is another rocker from Gary Nicholson. The closer “I’ve Got Your Back” was written by Karen Leipziger with Alfreda McCrary, from The McCrary Sisters, and Irene Kelley; the song “is about being there for the people you love”.
At only five feet Hurricane Ruth stands tall as her talent shines through. She is a great vocalist deserving further recognition.