On Sunday, Mother’s Day, at Gruene Hall, Mom, and anyone else within earshot beginning at 5 p.m., will be able to hear the kind of blues/rock that’s just not heard every day in these parts.
One of the reasons this particular brand of blues/rock isn’t heard every day is because the guitar slinger, singer and songwriter who’ll deliver the music, Mason Ruffner, has been gone for six or seven years.
“I’ve been living in Europe, Sweden in particular. I have a child there now, a daughter. She’s 5 ½ and I wanted to be close to her,” Ruffner said from his current digs in Austin.
Born in Fort Worth 59 years ago, Ruffner has long been the travelling blues troubadour. He came to national/international prominence in the ‘80s. After honing his chops, guitar and writing, working in clubs on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, high-powered musicians and high-powered record executives took note.
“I basically got my start about ’81 in New Orleans when I started my own band (the Blues Rockers),” Ruffner said. “I had been playing five nights a week in a party band on Bourbon Street. It was job security, but I wanted to sing my own songs. With my band, we played a lot. (The group was a fixture at Club 544 on Bourbon Street.) It never got any better than that. It was hard work, but we had a ball. Being Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix put together was what I wanted. Getting money and fame would have been nice, but I didn’t want to go for just that.”
Ruffner made his recording debut with the 1985 release “Mason Ruffner” (CBS). That disc was followed in ’87 by “Gypsy Blood” (Epic). He toured with Jimmy Page and The Firm, Crosby, Stills & Nash, U2 and Ringo Starr. He opened ears with songs such as “Down to New Orleans,” “Serenata,” “Gypsy Blood,” “Courage” and “Dancin’ On Top of the World.”
“After awhile, it felt like everything I was trying to write was to please other people,” Ruffner said. “I felt like I stunk at playing cover songs. If a song I wrote was a song Bob Dylan or Robert Plant liked, that was bad-ass. Having those songs was it for me.”
Plant, Dylan, Carlos Santana and others sang Ruffner’s praises. Ruffner never achieved superstardom, but he’s known around the world. Check him out on YouTube and you’ll find videos