Ruby Friedman Orchestra
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Ruby Friedman Orchestra

Los Angeles, California, United States

Los Angeles, California, United States
Band Rock Alternative

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This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Mar
30
Ruby Friedman Orchestra @ The Roxy

Hollywood, California, USA

Hollywood, California, USA

Feb
24
Ruby Friedman Orchestra @ Hunny Pot Party

Hollywood, California, USA

Hollywood, California, USA

Feb
15
Ruby Friedman Orchestra @ Hotel Cafe

Hollywood, California, USA

Hollywood, California, USA

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Music

Press


Ruby Friedman has the eyes of somebody who’s lived a little, the writing chops to make her experiences compelling and a voice that makes it all sound larger than life. The siren of the L.A.-based Ruby Friedman Orchestra is part damaged diva, part drama queen and all exposed nerves.

How she came to to be here (fronting a sextet of ace players and leaving exclamation point-dotted reviews in her wake) from there (some seven years in various studies at UCLA) is “a miracle that’s happening,” she says. And even if she shrouds some of the details in mystery, it’s a noteworthy evolution.

* ||| Download: “Shooting Star” (Luxury Wafers session) and visit Luxury Wafers for a video of the session and more tracks.

Friedman, whose rock ‘n’ roll is seasoned with dashes of blues, soul, country and show tunes, has worked with the likes of John Taylor, DJ Bonebrake, Billy Zoom, Tony Gilkyson, Brian Head and Gregg Sutton (among many others). She had a band before, so she’s no pilgrim, but she politely declines to discuss her past exploits in the music industry except to explain how they’ve colored her outlook this time around.

“It’s a cruel business if you’re a female,” she says. “The people pulling the strings are male, and they see you as an object and not as an artistic person. … I think I was battered. You will get affection, you will get promises made, you will get your hand kissed, and you wonder how you’re gonna pay your rent. You wonder how you’re going to get to the finish line when the wheels are falling off.”

Not that she is entirely blameless, as you might infer from her single “Shooting Star.” “The reality is,” she says, “that I was not appreciating what was going on.”

After her first go-round, and some personal battles — in conversation, she’s as likely to reference a lesson learned in AA meeting as she is the theory of correspondence — she immersed herself in academia, studying English, political science and history. At one point, her top friends on MySpace were all dead people or literary figures.

“I decided to do music — in parentheses, again — because I’m sitting in a history class at UCLA thinking about changing my major so I wouldn’t have to go to law school,” she says with a laugh. “I kept thinking, ‘What if I were doing music for the right reason? What if I had a vision, like an artist, and treated music like a empty canvas waiting for paint?’”

Most of her new songs are the result of her “trying to be more evolved now,” she says, and her material has attracted some collaborators with heavy-duty credits. Her drummer (and producer) is Alex Elena, who has worked with Avril Lavigne, Belinda Carlisle and Bruce Dickinson. The lineup also includes keyboardist Arlan Schierbaum (Mandrill), bassist Edwin Livingston (Queen Latifah), guitarist Adam Zimmon (Glen Campbell, Shakira) and trombonist Ulf Bjorlin (Vaud and the Villains).

“The testimony of the Ruby Friedman Orchestra is that we have players who could easily be spending their time on major tours, and they chose to play with me,” she says. “It amazing. Without them, I’d be all by myself with my epiphany.”

Instead she’s onstage almost defying onlookers to pigeonhole what she’s doing. It makes sense that her hero is Bessie Smith, but as a chanteuse she isn’t directly stealing anybody’s thunder. Janis Joplin? Maybe, in some of her phrasing. Bette Midler? Friedman can be that brassy. Melissa Etheridge? If you can imagine a punk-rock, vaudevillian version.

No surprise that Friedman, who was reared in Orange County, comes from a family of performers. “I was onstage before I was born,” she jokes. “My mom used to put me up on the table at parties.”

Years later, she’s using her estimable vocal range to make the most of her fresh start. “I’ve knocked on doors and they’ve open. But there’s still the memory of those that weren’t,” she says. “This time, the music is better. And I’m more true to the calling.”

||| Live: The Ruby Friedman Orchestra, along with Olin and the Moon and Correatown, play the Echo tonight in support of the Leslie & the Badgers residency.

- Buzz Bands


The Los Angeles music world is buzzin’ (hey, this is Buzzine, right?) about the Ruby Friedman Orchestra. The group’s appealing, off-center pop is winning fans wherever and whenever they play. The latest gig is set for this today, November 19th at The Hotel Cafe in Hollywood.

The Orchestra is led by visionary and darn smart Friedman, fast on the draw with quips, literary and historic references, plus she has one swell voice filled with just the right amount of inviting coo and consoling ache. She has brought those textured, emotion-dipped sounds to clubs all over town, including the Hyperion Tavern, Safari Sam’s, the Mint, the Viper Room, Three Clubs and the Echo. All the while, her following grows.

Friedman grew up in Southern California but with a distinct east coast family background. “I was raised by a pack of Jewish New Yorkers transplanted to Orange County as they produced me, the last of five kids,” she said.

Showbiz fever hit her mighty young. “I was singing and schmaltzing it up straight out of the chute, so that pretty much makes me a veteran vaudevillian,” she said. “My first time on stage, I was five years old playing Gretl in The Sound Of Music.”

She wouldn’t go pro until some years later, though. “Well, we would have to define ‘professional.’ If you mean professional by getting paid, I think I have not performed professionally yet…” she joked. “ Although that strip tease I did at my parents’ parties should count.”

Songwriting wasn’t a conscious effort initially, as she’s one of those artists who’s been writing tunes in her head for a good part of her life.

“I wrote many songs but didn’t realize they were songs,” she said. “Music just came out of my mouth and head; I’m like one of those fish-head spouts on a water fountain.”

Friedman looks to more than music figures for inspiration. “I have more heroes that were unmusical, for example Hamlet, Falstaff…but, okay, if you insist: Mahalia Jackson, Bessie Smith, Etta James, The Beatles, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Frank Black, Brendan Flowers, System of A Down, Bob Dylan, The Pixies, Langhorne Slim, X, Wanda Jackson…” And her list could go on and on, she said.

The concept of the Orchestra came to her two winters ago, while sitting in an Intellectual History class at UCLA with one Professor Bloch discussing Thoreau and Fuller and Emerson — the transcendentalists.

“I had a vision…or a curse, depending upon how you look at it,” she said. “We will have the full effect eventually — you know, harp, tympani, etc.

“The motivation behind calling our thing The Ruby Friedman Orchestra is partly an ironic, post-feminist statement, mainly to call out or underscore the compositional contributions that are made off-stage by a female who performs on-stage as the leader of an orchestra while challenging assumptions of who/what a conductor is,” she explained.

“My Great Great Aunt Faye sang with the Benny Goodman Orchestra and other big bands of her day, and she received no meaningful posterity in the way of recordings, so it’s kind of an homage to her,” Friedman said. “Also, it seems to me that females are unequally perceived as major contributors to sonic composition. As front-persons/singers, we are naturally assumed to just be judged as sex objects or not sex objects. If we are not deemed sex objects, then the musical contributions become moot. Nobody cares. It is very tragic. I see this happen to all kinds of talented girls. And when I say ’sex object,’ I mean the definition of the status quo’s variety which has nothing to do with intelligence and personal agency and originality, and everything to do with how mold-able/nonthreatening/unthinking she is in relation to male-appointed power — how well, in other words, she will fit along with the others and go down smoothly with the public as easy marketing — a real disservice to the humanities…and then we call them “artists”? Basically, I am seeking to overthrow assumptions here that are not real in terms of the general public and what they want and deserve and are hungry for, but in the media-promoted sex object and the continuous force-feeding of this standard.”


So part of what the Orchestra is about is challenging those preconceptions regarding women and music, and, of course, having a good time along the way.

“If a female is a singer/songwriter, she is expected to sing with a guitar on stage. For my part, I wonder, ‘Why would I do that? I have the best guitar player around in Adam Zimmon. Who needs me playing along?’” she said. “I write songs and parts, but live, the performance and dramatic edge and intent of the lyrics would be compromised if I was handcuffed to my guitar — a silly thing. Anyway, lest no one forget, Ruby Friedman leads an orchestra of great musicians, and she is doubly honored and proud to lead them in this battle.”

Part of Friedman’s quite diverse collision of styles includes mining areas of symphonic pop, in line, in part, with Spector/Brian Wi - Buzzine.com


The Los Angeles music world is buzzin’ (hey, this is Buzzine, right?) about the Ruby Friedman Orchestra. The group’s appealing, off-center pop is winning fans wherever and whenever they play. The latest gig is set for this today, November 19th at The Hotel Cafe in Hollywood.

The Orchestra is led by visionary and darn smart Friedman, fast on the draw with quips, literary and historic references, plus she has one swell voice filled with just the right amount of inviting coo and consoling ache. She has brought those textured, emotion-dipped sounds to clubs all over town, including the Hyperion Tavern, Safari Sam’s, the Mint, the Viper Room, Three Clubs and the Echo. All the while, her following grows.

Friedman grew up in Southern California but with a distinct east coast family background. “I was raised by a pack of Jewish New Yorkers transplanted to Orange County as they produced me, the last of five kids,” she said.

Showbiz fever hit her mighty young. “I was singing and schmaltzing it up straight out of the chute, so that pretty much makes me a veteran vaudevillian,” she said. “My first time on stage, I was five years old playing Gretl in The Sound Of Music.”

She wouldn’t go pro until some years later, though. “Well, we would have to define ‘professional.’ If you mean professional by getting paid, I think I have not performed professionally yet…” she joked. “ Although that strip tease I did at my parents’ parties should count.”

Songwriting wasn’t a conscious effort initially, as she’s one of those artists who’s been writing tunes in her head for a good part of her life.

“I wrote many songs but didn’t realize they were songs,” she said. “Music just came out of my mouth and head; I’m like one of those fish-head spouts on a water fountain.”

Friedman looks to more than music figures for inspiration. “I have more heroes that were unmusical, for example Hamlet, Falstaff…but, okay, if you insist: Mahalia Jackson, Bessie Smith, Etta James, The Beatles, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Frank Black, Brendan Flowers, System of A Down, Bob Dylan, The Pixies, Langhorne Slim, X, Wanda Jackson…” And her list could go on and on, she said.

The concept of the Orchestra came to her two winters ago, while sitting in an Intellectual History class at UCLA with one Professor Bloch discussing Thoreau and Fuller and Emerson — the transcendentalists.

“I had a vision…or a curse, depending upon how you look at it,” she said. “We will have the full effect eventually — you know, harp, tympani, etc.

“The motivation behind calling our thing The Ruby Friedman Orchestra is partly an ironic, post-feminist statement, mainly to call out or underscore the compositional contributions that are made off-stage by a female who performs on-stage as the leader of an orchestra while challenging assumptions of who/what a conductor is,” she explained.

“My Great Great Aunt Faye sang with the Benny Goodman Orchestra and other big bands of her day, and she received no meaningful posterity in the way of recordings, so it’s kind of an homage to her,” Friedman said. “Also, it seems to me that females are unequally perceived as major contributors to sonic composition. As front-persons/singers, we are naturally assumed to just be judged as sex objects or not sex objects. If we are not deemed sex objects, then the musical contributions become moot. Nobody cares. It is very tragic. I see this happen to all kinds of talented girls. And when I say ’sex object,’ I mean the definition of the status quo’s variety which has nothing to do with intelligence and personal agency and originality, and everything to do with how mold-able/nonthreatening/unthinking she is in relation to male-appointed power — how well, in other words, she will fit along with the others and go down smoothly with the public as easy marketing — a real disservice to the humanities…and then we call them “artists”? Basically, I am seeking to overthrow assumptions here that are not real in terms of the general public and what they want and deserve and are hungry for, but in the media-promoted sex object and the continuous force-feeding of this standard.”


So part of what the Orchestra is about is challenging those preconceptions regarding women and music, and, of course, having a good time along the way.

“If a female is a singer/songwriter, she is expected to sing with a guitar on stage. For my part, I wonder, ‘Why would I do that? I have the best guitar player around in Adam Zimmon. Who needs me playing along?’” she said. “I write songs and parts, but live, the performance and dramatic edge and intent of the lyrics would be compromised if I was handcuffed to my guitar — a silly thing. Anyway, lest no one forget, Ruby Friedman leads an orchestra of great musicians, and she is doubly honored and proud to lead them in this battle.”

Part of Friedman’s quite diverse collision of styles includes mining areas of symphonic pop, in line, in part, with Spector/Brian Wi - Buzzine.com


Ruby Friedman Orchestra, Garrison Starr,
Daphne Willis, Anna Rose
DATE/TIME: TUE., JANUARY 12
HOTEL CAFÉ – 9:00pm

RUBY FRIEDMAN ORCHESTRA, GARRISON STARR, DAPHNE WILLIS, ANNA ROSE
By Falling James

?
Ruby Friedman

With a name like the Ruby Friedman Orchestra, you might expect some retro swing or jazz chanteuse dusting off ancient standards in front of a fussy, fusty big band, but the actual dame in question isn't so easily tied to any one genre or era. In fact, her "orchestra" is really a group of rock veterans who've variously backed the disparate likes of Powerman 5000, Shakira, Glen Campbell and Avril Lavigne — none of whom sounds remotely similar to the titular Ms. Friedman. The singer, it turns out, is no shrinking violet, belting out glammy power ballads like "Shooting Stars" and "Hang Around" with a big voice and plenty of charisma. "That's why I let you hang around/Because you make me laugh . . . You cut the pain in half," Friedman declares with stirring romantic intensity. She and her hard-rocking band show considerable commercial potential, although at this stage the otherwise smart songwriting isn't nearly as wild and untamed as Friedman's voice. But give them time. On the ork's faithful yet savage transformation of the Beatles' "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," she sounds deliriously feverish as she bends her wraithlike cries into the fat dip and curve of Adam Zimmon's guitar licks. It's possibly the best version of one of the most intense songs by the most famous band in rock history — that's not easy to do, you know.

# # # - LA Weekly


The Players: Ruby Friedman, vocals; Arlan Schierbaum, keyboard, organ; Alex Elena, drums; Ulf Bjorlin, trombone; Adam Simmon, guitar; Dorian Heartsong, bass.

Material: There is no clear way to describe or define the Ruby Friedman Orchestra. They are evocative of elements form acts as disparate as the Beatles, Patti Smith and Bette Midler. Their sound has a universal quality to it that makes their style seem at home in any era between the '60's and any time in the next decade.

Musicianship: Each player in this unlikely sextet is clearly a veteran performer. Their playing is spot on, and they blend their instruments together in a cohesive manner that shows sophistication and tastefulness. Collectively, the group maintains an impeccable balance while steadily bearing down on the audience like a psychedelic marching band. Their soulfully intense bandleader, Ruby Friedman, had a larger than life set of pipes and a persona to match.

Performance: Miss Friedman has a rich and barely restrained voice, and a delivery meant for a bigger stage than what Hotel Cafe can offer. The band performed superbly without any single instrument being too dominant or overbearing, and although it was apparent that the RFO could flood a bigger venue with a thicker sound, they aptly kept the energy at a level appropriate for the intimate venue they were in without sacrificing sonic punch. Nonetheless, it seemed evident that Friedman wanted to engage in more onstage movement, and as rewarding as it was to experience them at close quarters, it would be surely interesting to see this band again on a bigger stage.

Summary: The Ruby Friedman Orchestra could be considered an ambitious project, but great things are seldom achieved without ambition. Not only is the music unique yet accessible, and the level of talent in the band beyond question, but Ruby Friedman herself is an impassioned dynamo.

-Hans Fink
- Music Connection


Ruby Friedman Orchestra, Garrison Starr,
Daphne Willis, Anna Rose
DATE/TIME: TUE., JANUARY 12
HOTEL CAFÉ – 9:00pm

RUBY FRIEDMAN ORCHESTRA, GARRISON STARR, DAPHNE WILLIS, ANNA ROSE
By Falling James

?
Ruby Friedman

With a name like the Ruby Friedman Orchestra, you might expect some retro swing or jazz chanteuse dusting off ancient standards in front of a fussy, fusty big band, but the actual dame in question isn't so easily tied to any one genre or era. In fact, her "orchestra" is really a group of rock veterans who've variously backed the disparate likes of Powerman 5000, Shakira, Glen Campbell and Avril Lavigne — none of whom sounds remotely similar to the titular Ms. Friedman. The singer, it turns out, is no shrinking violet, belting out glammy power ballads like "Shooting Stars" and "Hang Around" with a big voice and plenty of charisma. "That's why I let you hang around/Because you make me laugh . . . You cut the pain in half," Friedman declares with stirring romantic intensity. She and her hard-rocking band show considerable commercial potential, although at this stage the otherwise smart songwriting isn't nearly as wild and untamed as Friedman's voice. But give them time. On the ork's faithful yet savage transformation of the Beatles' "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," she sounds deliriously feverish as she bends her wraithlike cries into the fat dip and curve of Adam Zimmon's guitar licks. It's possibly the best version of one of the most intense songs by the most famous band in rock history — that's not easy to do, you know.

# # # - LA Weekly


Discography

Tracks released & streaming: Shooting Stars, Hang Around, Go About Your Day, It Makes Me Hold Your Hand A Little Tighter, Burning Skies, She's So Heavy (Beatles cover), Sub-Acid Sweet Songs, Stay Awake.

Photos

Bio

OFFICIAL RUBY FRIEDMAN ORCHESTRA BIO

Ruby Friedman’s music turns new listeners into instant fans. Take Lucinda Williams, for instance: In the late summer of 2008, just a couple of months after the venerated singer-songwriter and multiple Grammy Award winner first heard Ruby at the Hyperion Tavern in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake district, Williams joined her for a number on stage at Hollywood’s Hotel Café.

Blessed with a bold, octave-leaping voice and a brace of rapturous radio-friendly songs, Ruby is poised to leap out of the pack. Her crackling live performances showcase a singer who has melded a panoply of diverse musical tributaries – Bessie Smith, Etta James, Patsy Cline, Whitney Houston, PJ Harvey – into a distinctive, unclassifiable, high-powered, utterly surprising style of her own.

She’s radio-active: During 2008-09, she graced the airwaves with a live performance on the late, lamented Indie 103.1, regular spins on Rodney Bingenheimer’s legendary KROQ show “Rodney on the ROQ,” and airplay from guest DJ Rosanna Arquette on Chris Douridas’ KCRW program “New Ground.” She has appeared on RocknRoll Television.com and cut a live session at ChessVolt Studios for the indie music site Luxury Wafers.

She has wowed audiences at the Hotel Café, the Mint, the Viper Room,
and the Echo in Los Angeles, and played three stomping shows during the 2009 South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas. The renowned audio equipment manufacturer Sennheiser, which sponsored one of her SXSW gigs, named her their “Unsigned Artist of the Month” for March 2009.

The titian-haired vocalist’s recent studio activity brought her together with some noted producers. Sessions with the team Beethoven – Alex Elena and Josh Valleau, known for their work with Grammy nominee Alice Smith and Little Jackie – yielded the hit-worthy tracks “Look For the Shooting Star” and “That’s Why I Let You Hang Around,” as well as a scorching cover of the Beatles’ “I Want You/She’s So Heavy.” Her original “Sex” was mixed by Mike Chapman (Blondie, the Knack, Pat Benatar).

Ruby has performed and recorded with some storied players: John Taylor (Duran Duran), Billy Zoom and DJ Bonebrake (X), Tony Gilkyson (Lone Justice, X), Gregg Sutton (Lone Justice), Michael Ward (Glen Campbell, the Wallflowers), Brian Head (John Doe, Dead Rock West), Bob Thiele, Jr., and many others.

The members of her band the Ruby Friedman Orchestra – all seasoned L.A. pros – include keyboardist Arlan Schierbaum, keyboardist for the seminal funk unit Mandrill; bassist Edwin Livingston, a top-flight jazz player and former Queen Latifah sideman seen and heard in the feature films Ray and Dreamgirls; guitarist Adam Zimmon, who has toured with country legend Glen Campbell and Latin star Shakira; trombonist Ulf Bjorlin, a classically trained player who also performs with Vaud and the Villains; and, on drums, producer Alex Elena, whose credits include touring and studio work with Avril Lavigne, Belinda Carlisle, and Bruce Dickinson.

Invariably, audience members at a Ruby Friedman Orchestra show are left hunting for superlatives to describe what they’ve just seen. We’ll give the last word to Lucinda Williams, who may have put it best: At the Hyperion Tavern, she turned to another spectator next to her at the bar and exclaimed, “I am f*cking blown away.”