Stormy and powerful singer prospers on Good Life

Hurricane Ruth

My friend Karen Leipziger, owner at KL Productions, in Nashville frequently sends promo packs with CDs for me to give a listen and possibly a review.

Most of the music the award winning publicist sends catches my ear.

Every once in awhile a package from a publicist, a label like Warner or an artist will arrive as if the delivery person had stepped on it, used it for a frisbee or it just got stuck in a powerful storm.

Such was the package from Karen containing a new release by Hurricane Ruth. I smiled — the package and the artist seemed connected. Thankfully, the CD played fine.

Ruth LaMaster earned her “Hurricane” nickname because people had difficulty believing such powerhouse vocals could be coming out of such a small woman.

In a sense, Ruth had little choice but being a musician. Her father owned and operated Glendale Tavern in Beardstown, Illinois. The bar became her second school.

“My dad was a drummer. At age three, I was sitting on his lap keeping time on the ride cymbal, while he played, during Sunday jam sessions” she said.

After she grew up, she got better and better and ended up performing with the best — John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Willie Dixon, Taj Mahal, Ramsey Lewis Trio, Sam & Dave, Fenton Robinson, Maynard Ferguson and his orchestra, and most recently; Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

Then she opened for those who fit her stormy powerful style — renowned rockers like Heart, Judas Priest, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts & Steppenwolf. The great Willie Dixon once told her, “You’re the only hurricane I can appreciate.”

“To be able to sit and talk with Willie Dixon after one of my shows, that’s something I won’t ever forget,” Hurricane Ruth said. “I gained a great amount of knowledge just from listening to him. And John Lee Hooker, he was one of the most memorable. Being in his presence was like being around blues royalty.”

Her fifth solo release, Good Life, was produced by the late Ben Elliott. Ben recorded musicians such as Eric Clapton and Keith Richards (for whom he recorded and mixed “You Win Again,” featured on Timeless, the Grammy Award-winning all-star tribute to Hank Williams).

“We were both in agreement with my staying true to who I am both as a songwriter and as a vocalist. During the recording of my vocal tracks, Ben insisted that my vocals were recorded with the same edgy, raw authenticity that he had heard in my live performances.”

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