While I was answering Margeurita's request for lineups on _Oh Mercy_ last
night this question occurred to me...
Whatever became of Mason Ruffner? Anybody know?
He made that one album back around '87 or '88 that I know of (right around the time of _Oh Mercy_ I suppose), but what then. As I recall there was a really good instrumental track on the album, though much of the rest of it was over produced and forced sounding. Great guitar player, singularand rivetting approach to rhythm.
Mason Ruffner was also the opening act on the Ringo Starr tour a few years ago. It's a shame that he hasn't been more successful. I thought that his "Gypsy Blood" album was quite good - clearly a big Dylan/Band influence on him as well. He would have been a much better guitar player for Dylan on tour than G.E. Smith, who IMHO is completely lacking any concept of tasteful guitar playing.
I lived in New Orleans from '82-88. During my first three years in NO, Mason was a regular fixture on Bourbon St. playing 6 nights a week (literally) at a bar called The Old Absinthe Room (about three times as big as my bedroom). His trio was great for that room, and I was privileged enough to see Bruce Springsteen sit in one night, and on another, Jimmy Page.
It came out in 87, had great songs, including the title track, a mix of
Hendrix and Dylan, plus "Goin Back to New Orleans," with a swampy organ
and mentions of Dr.John, not to mention "AIn't Gonna Get it"
Promo press at the time said mason studied Arthur Rimbaud to get symbolism in his lyrics. Whatever happened to him?
Dylan should take him out with Bucky Baxter or Lanois should take him for an album or something.
From: email@example.com (LTorn) Newsgroups: rec.music.dylan Subject: M. Ruffner, B. Dylan, T. Moore, & Oh Mercy Date: 23 May 1996 04:08:19 -0400 Hi Everyone-- Been meaning to post this for some time. This comes from the Austin Chronicle (4/26/96), the local weekly, and an excerpt of an article about Louisiana guitarist/songwriter Mason Ruffner titled "Series of Dreams" (Raoul Hernandez, author). Mr. Ruffner, as many of you will recall, played on the "Oh Mercy" sessions: . . . Writing had never come easy to Ruffner, who'd always spent much of his free time in the local library reading classics; everything from Ovid and Dante to favorites like Rimbaud and Baudelaire. And though Ruffner now insists he's never suffered from writer's block, inspiration was nowhere to be found, not even in Daniel Lanois' studio where the guitarist came face to face with his favorite author, Bob Dylan. "Dan called me out of the blue, and I'd heard that Dylan was in town, and thought, 'this must be the Dylan session.' When he asked me, I could feel my face changing colors and everything. 'I'll be right there.'Bam, zoom. I was out the door. . . When I got there Dylan was giving everyone a hard time. He would stop in the middle of a song, if he didn't like what was going on, and say, 'Dan, where'd you get these guys? They can't fucking play this shit.' Right in front of them. "So Dan takes me and Glen [Fukunaga] and Roddy [Colonna] before we start the session and says, 'Look, if he doesn't talk to you, if he acts rude or something, just be cool, and keep playing.' So we're expecting the worst. But he comes in, and says [to me] 'Man, I heard your tape.' Which tape? "Well, I didn't know what he was talking about at the time. 'Yeah,' he says, 'you know that 'Baby, I Don't Care No More' [from "Gypsy Blood"]. That's some good shit.' And he started reciting some of my lyrics. He says, 'Guns 'n' Roses need a song like that. They need a good song.' He really opened up to me, really liked me." Dylan liked Ruffner enough, in fact, that when the guitarist wrote the king of songwriters a note of thanks, he got back the same. For Ruffner, it is the Holy Grail of notes, and he knows just where to find it: at the top of his desk drawer (there's also a copy of it tacked up in his rehearsal space). It reads: Dear Mason The note you wrote meant a lot to me, you played right on the end of the song ["Series of Dreams"]. It was the only thing to do. Eric Clapton thought it was Mark Knopfler. Keep at it. A poet you might want to check out is Thomas Moore. Probably the library would know. You don't need to check anybody out on the guitar. Bob Presto. Ruffner could now die happy, and was probably prepared to do so until one month later when at a Carlos Santana gig, he ran into the Latin firebrand backstage, and was asked to jam with him. "I think that was kind of a turning point for me," says Ruffner thoughtfully. "It told me, you're okay, you don't have nothing to prove to anyone. Forget about trying to impress CBS and sell records to teeny boppers. You got Santana, Dylan, Lanois, forget it. You're okay. Just do what you want to do when you want to do it." That was 1989, and from that point on, Ruffner never seriously considered recording another album for CBS . . . There you have it. It's a much longer piece, with news of Ruffner's new album, but this is the extent of the Dylan content. --Luke
Mason Ruffner was a guest guitarist at Bob Dylan's concert in Oslo, 13 Oct 2003.
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