Ruth Cassie
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Ruth Cassie

Huntsville, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

Huntsville, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Solo Alternative Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Handle the Ruth"

I just finished writing a nice, long post explaining both what Ruth Cassie is and is not, only to lose it all to a timed out connection. I don't feel like rewriting the whole thing, so here's the shorter version: contra what her own sites and her publicists may say, she's not the next coming of Kate Bush, Regina Spektor, Bjork or Hawksley Workman.

What she is, however -- and what's made abundantly clear on her debut, Ivan Blackbird's Muse -- is a musician who could be the next coming of Feist. As songs like "Above Red Bramble", "Dust Settled Here" and "Not To The Day" show, she's got a fine ear for writing songs that would fit in perfectly at Starbucks and on commercials.

Obviously, that's not the sort of thing musicians aspire to, at least not outwardly, and you can understand why someone who spent time playing in Hawksley Workman's band might want to avoid that. The thing is, it's something Ivan Blackbird's Story sounds tailor-made for, and the sooner Ruth Cassie recognizes that, the sooner she can achieve the coffe table ubiquity she deserves. - i(heart)music

"Ruth Cassie featured with Hawksley Workman"

Singing Hawksley's "Prettier Face": - youtube

"A stunningly eclectic debut record, Ivan Blackbird's Story allows Ruth be front and centre where she belongs"

Ruth Cassie - Ivan Blackbird's Story 4.5/5


A stunningly eclectic debut record, Ivan Blackbird's Story, allows Ruth Cassie, a multi-instrumentalist, and former band member for Hawksley Workman, to be front and centre where she belongs. Brash and calm in the same breath, Cassie possesses, seductive vocals equal parts Kate Bush and Tori Amos.

Cassie's poetic lyrics, undeniable charm, and soul stirring instrumentals, make Ivan Blackbird's Story all the more captivating. Gorgeous melodies, and high spirited songs like "Cake For Rebecca," and "Mercury's Rising" are hard to resist. In any setting Cassie's vocals are a source of strength on ballads like "Awe & Wonder."

From the edgy, funk groove of "Becoming Jane" to Cassie's incarnation as a pixie on "Bee Sting," the record never ceases to amaze. Unlike Bush or Amos, Cassie is fearless in tackling more appealing pop tunes, and succeeds in spades. Ruth Cassie shines.
Posted by Thomas at 8:55 PM - Shattered Vinyl

"Like a bird from beyond, Ruth Cassie's voice is an otherworldy force"

WHO IS RUTH CASSIE? Thu Jun 10 2010
Well Ruth Cassie has gained much attention as the backup to Hawksley Workman. That would be attention form crowds and critics alike as a vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and keyboardist. Ruth Cassie has arrived and is coming to a town near you… “Like a bird from beyond, Ruth Cassie’s voice is an otherworldly force, an instrument that can be in turns beautifully delicate and bewitchingly powerful. The blackbird – the particular branch-dweller Cassie claims to draw her inspiration from – is no stranger to art. It’s inspired children’s stories, and everything from Edward Thomas’ poems to a Beatle’s song. But on her debut, Ivan Blackbird’s Story, this up-and-coming Ontario songstress nearly outdoes them all. With bits of fanciful piano folk, and wild-eyed cabaret pop, she weaves a nest of whimsy and mysterious charm, lacing her quirk-festooned ballads with unabashed showmanship and excitement. Over its dozen songs, the instruments and song craft of Ivan impress, but it’s Cassie’s vocals that truly set this Story apart. Hear them for yourself on the slinky “Mercury’s Rising,” a construction of sneaky bass and drums that gives way to a staccato-peppered refrain and an instantly unforgettable chorus.”
- Nice PKG

"Ruth Cassie has... an uncanny knack for making appealing indie-pop tunes sound fresh and new"

Ruth Cassie came to my attention in being mentioned as a former band member of Hawksley Workman on several occasions on various other blogs. Through further investigation I learned that she actually only did background vocals and some keyboarding/multi-instrumenting on Hawksley Workman’s 2008 albums “Between the beautifuls” and “Los manlicious” (that’s Ruth on the left), but that perhaps disappointing fact couldn’t shake my initial interest. I discovered that she had just released a “solo” album and was very curious as to the sound of it. In listening to the very few songs of “Ivan Blackbird’s story” that I could find online at first glance, I found that there were one or two of them that clearly are influenced by Hawksley Workman. But I was in fact completely taken by surprise by a sweet and stunningly eclectic debut record that had depth, strong lyrics and gorgeous melodies. Yes, dear reader, Ruth Cassie has an undeniable charm, seductive vocals and captivating qualities to boot. And, somehow, she managed to adopt an uncanny knack for making appealing indie-pop tunes that sound fresh and new. Admittedly, there’s probably ample room for growth, since not all songs are necessarily portraying these qualities, but, still, Ruth Cassie’s real mark is one of being haunting and innocent at the same time. A feature and unique characteristic that shines throughout the whole album.

"In Conversation With... Ruth Cassie"

In Conversation With... Ruth Cassie

A mother, multi-instrumentalist, former backing vocalist for Hawksley Workman, alongside her work with Hey! Rosetta, and Imogen Heap, time abroad in Australia, to touring Paris with Workman, Ruth Cassie is about as seasoned as they come, full of colourful experiences, and eager to take in more of what life has to offer.

Catching Ruth by phone at her home in Huntsville on a rainy Wednesday, a little off guard, "you caught me with a bit of pancake in my teeth," and earl grey tea in hand, we spoke about her debut record, and the forces that shaped her making Ivan Blackbird's Story and her current Ontario Tour.

How did the record of Ivan Blackbird's Story come about, was it planned or more organic?

I found myself on tour with Hawksley, and I felt all of a sudden it was like now or never. I had songs in my back pocket, and I ran into my friend, who's a producer, and it was all about the right timing.

The record has a lot of energy and genuine emotion. How were you feeling during the recording of the album?

It was very exhilarating, and exhausting. We had numerous discussions about the direction of the record. It was an intensive six months in a Polish basement recording, staying up some nights 'til 2 AM, fortunately for me, my producer lived two blocks from where we recorded. There were many trips by bus back and forth to Toronto. I wanted it to be up beat, there is a lot of my own personality on the record.

One of the more playful songs on the record is "Cake for Rebecca," how did that song come about?

It's one of the most literal songs I've written, I made and ate a lot of food, and had a lot of conversations with myself. It's one of the oldest songs on the album, written when I was newly married in Australia, and evaluating my life.

There is a certain sense of quirkiness and thoughtfulness in your lyrics and sound, what brings that out?

I think part of the quirk is my own insecurities, my questioning and wanting the music to not be just a statement but open, I want you to respond. Not for affirmation from the audience but for it to be open to interpretation.

Prior to the album, you had toured with Hawksley Workman as a backing vocalist, what did you take from the experience?

I feel like my career started from the other end of the spectrum, Hawksley has you know, ten albums, and has been around for years, and I've done a lot of singing in the community, at local events, and lived other lives. I found that there are real people in the business, and they are so passionate, but live not necessarily healthy lifestyles, and that for longevity, you need people outside the business to ground you, and be your support.

How is touring as part of Hawksley's crew, compared to being out there performing your own material?

I'm not locked into a part, with being in a band, you sort of have your place to blend in, and not to overshadow the artist, and be supportive. It was a real pleasure with Hawksley, and even now the musicians are still a collective, but I have more flexibility with my vocals and control over where we take the songs. I make the expectations.

I've read you've workd on cabarets in your hometown of Huntsville, like "Dream Life of Angels," what is it that draws you to do a cabaret show?

Community, it's all about community. I like the eclectic nature of community, I have a lot of holes in my musical training, and there's a lot for me to learn from others within the community.

As part of your tour you've organized the "Girl 8 Festival," to take place in Huntsville, alongside the G8 Summit, what made you decide to put on a festival?

I'm largely naive about politics, and keep my cards close to my chest, but when I heard the G8 were coming, I wanted to build an outdoor festival. It's a wonderful range of female artists from country to cabaret music, and I wanted to stay in town, while most are running for the hills and show the life of the town.

Thanks to Ruth Cassie for speaking with Shattered Vinyl.

Catch Ruth on Tour:

June 17 The Painted Lady NXNE TORONTO
June 19 Zaphods Beeblebrox, OTTAWA
June 24 Girl 8 Festival, HUNTSVILLE
June 25 "My Summit 2010" Intl. Youth Summit, HUNTSVILLE
June 29 The Central, TORONTO - Shattered Vinyl

"Chatting with Ruth Cassie"

When Ruth Cassie hits the big time, her story will sound invented: plucked from a rural Ontario life to sing with childhood friend Hawskley Workman on an international tour, she suddenly found herself on the world’s stage, singing for folks who didn’t share her blood. Small-town girl makes big.

At the crack of 10:00 a.m., TORO talked with Cassie about her wild and wonderful debut album, Ivan Blackbird’s Story, the trials of breaking out, and how paying a band in baked goods is harder than it sounds.

Q: Thanks for talking to us so early in the morning. Are you a morning person?
A: I would like to be!

Q: What time of day yields the most creativity?
A: About 2:00 a.m.

Q: Because your head is clear?
A: Absolutely.

Q: How was your NXNE experience? It might seem like ages ago...
A: Nope. It feels fresh, because we’ve only been playing a lot recently ... I liked the venue, I thought the stage manager was very keen, and very helpful, and kind, and the place was packed. And there were a few people left by the time we got on at 1:00 a.m. - the bar staff liked my set!

But the sound guy was perturbed [because] I’m a rookie and didn’t give him the kind of stage plot he wanted. The sound sucked, but I was grateful to have that opportunity.

Q: What do you mean by “rookie”? Moving out of your southern Ontario roots?
A: Yeah, playing in front of people I haven’t met before. That’s what I mean - it’s not my family in the audience, although I love playing for them.

When it comes to my own stuff, I came to the music industry backwards. I’ve been playing in my community for a long time, then my friend Hawksley [Workman] called me up after, you know, high school, 15 years later and said, “I’m recording an album, would you come sing on it?” “Yup.” Then “Will you tour with me across Canada?” “Yup.” “Across Europe?” “Yup.” Playing in front of 3,000 people suddenly was wonderful.

Q: So that tour was the catalyst for you, personally?
?A: Yeah - it was the “now or never” ... to keep working on the songs that I had in my back pocket. I reconnected with my producer, a friend of Hawkley’s I had met years before, and he was able to produce the record for essentially nothing. I had nothing, in terms of bucks. And my band ended up being people I had grown up with. I need that! I need a home base, and if I can take it with me, that’s a bonus.

Q: Was that the first time you actually recorded your songs?
A: When I was pregnant with my daughter, I bought a little MP3 recorder, in Australia, and when I was doing laundry or walking I would sing and listen back to it. I wanted my kid to know my voice.

Q: Has Toronto become your home base?
A: No. But when I was recording, for about six months, I’d go down to the city. It just so happened that my producer was living three blocks away [from where I was staying]. I’m a little nervous in the city, I mean, I grew up in Moose Jaw, which hardly qualifies as a city. But it was great, being able to record in the early morning and safely walk home.

Q: Everyone is nervous in this city all the time, they just don’t admit it.
A: [Laughs.] I heard Bruce McDonald on the radio the other day ... he was filming that great big collective, Feist plays with them, do you know who I’m talking about? [Broken Social Scene.] Anyway, he was saying, “Everybody loves Toronto! This movie will be played all across Canada, and people in Vancouver who think it’s full of snobs will watch this movie and think, If only I could live in Toronto.”

Q: It’s not the worst place in the world for a musician.
A: Yeah, I’ve picked up on that. I’m two hours away from the city, and I don’t want to be any further away.

Q: And your music is very rural.
A: Absolutely. My writing is very geographical. Open spaces ... I draw from my backyard. The place I used to run and break my legs in gopher holes.

Q: That openness must have been great for an aspiring singer.
A: Very much a loner kid, running around by myself. I had - have - three younger sisters, and I wasn’t interested in playing with them. I wanted to be outside. I didn’t play with dolls or cars or colour pictures. That was a waste of time!

Q: And your music is more confident - your delivery more open - than a lot of singer-songwriters...
A: Really?

Q: Just an observation.
A: Hmm ... neat. I think I am hiding. I need a keyboard in front of me, so far. And it’s only recently that I’ve made the leap from sitting to standing [behind it]. I want to move a little bit, and I think just moving from sitting to standing is changing my comfort zone.

I’m always nervous [performing]. My stomach turns, my heart pounds out of my chest. I make my first rapid-fire comments, I don’t prepare what I’m going to say, and my sister always says, “No one can understand you! Slow down!”

Q: Do you feel a sense of relief now that your record is out?
A: No ... that was the most exciting and satisfying part - making it. It was a blood, sweat, and tears sort of thing. Making pies to pay people. I’ve got secondary burns on my arms from baking so many pies.

I’ve got more music in me, and I hope the budget comes to make the next record. And I’ll bake less pies, get less burns. I’m very anxious - no relief!

Check out Ruth Cassie’s music on her MySpace page.
- Toro Magazine

"Hawksley shakes the walls of Holy Heart"

Hawksley shakes the walls of Holy Heart
Concert Review
The Telegram

Canadian singer-songwriter Hawksley Workman continued his cross-country tour with a visit to Holy Heart of Mary auditorium Tuesday.

Supporting the release of "Between The Beautifuls," his brand new and most mature work to date, it was unpredictable what kind of show he and his band would offer up. It turned out to be a rock 'n' roll, melodramatic, variety show of sorts.

To begin, the Ontario-based singer and his band came out boasting antennae with shiny stars. "We're in a school. It feels like we're at a Christmas concert," he quipped, before kicking off the show with "We Will Still Need A Song," from the 2003 hit album "Lover/Fighter."

For the first few numbers the band gathered around a toy drum set which Hawksley sat at, looking like a grown-up riding a Playskool tricycle.

"Safe and Sound" and "Don't Be Crushed" followed before the band resumed their regular positions and started into "All The Trees Are Hers," the first track off the new record and a potential future radio single.

"Trees" and other down-tempo tunes from "Between The Beautifuls," like "Oh You Delicate Heart" and "What Would You Say To Me, Lord?" lacked the over-production which makes the album versions of the songs so distinct from most of Hawksley's work.

Instead, it was the faster-paced material from the new album-like "I'm Alone Here" and "The City Is a Drag," which garnered the loudest cheers, as did the creatively re-worked versions of older successes such as "Smoke Baby," "Striptease," and "Jealous Of Your Cigarette," which all featured drawn-out intense jams and solos from various band members.

During "Piano Blink," the new record's first single, Hawksley's stage antics were rock star-like, but levelled out by his frequent between-song crowd banter which revealed a humbleness not common among musicians who have experienced the level of success he has.

At times, he stood on stage with the utmost confidence. At others, he addressed the audience with his hands in his pockets, timid like a student explaining to his teacher why his homework wasn't done.

The various facets of his image reflected Hawksley's seemingly present transition to a more adult contemporary musician.

Throughout the show he shared long stories of past lovers, his deceased grandmother's dirty mouth, and something about his neighbour who he somewhat considers a friend because they helped push him out of a snowbank. What he was talking about at times was questionable, but funny and effective all the same.

At about the half-way point of the show the band was joined on stage by three members of hey rosetta!, who took up arms - instruments, really - and played "Your Beauty Must Be Rubbing Off," a funny choice considering the band's recent collaboration with Hawksley on their forthcoming album, which resulted from their adoration of his music.

It was difficult to gauge just how many instruments Hawksley, and his bandmates for that matter, played throughout the show. The multi-talented multi-instrumentalist played guitar, banjo, keyboard, harmonica and shared drumming duties with bandmate Mr. Lonely (Wyatt Burton), to name just a few.

Goosebump-inducing vocal performances from keyboardist, and multi-instrumentalist, Ruth Cassie can't go unmentioned. Her backup vocals on several songs earned shout-outs from the crowd.

It was nice to see some seats full in the upper balcony of the auditorium, a sure sign that Hawksley's popularity in St. John's is healthy.

One thing's for sure, the high school venue might not be big enough next time around if word of mouth is as generous to Tuesday night's performance as it should be.

12/03/08 - The Telegram

"Hawksley Workman treats fans"

I think this is hilarious," Hawksley Workman says as soon as he pulls up to the microphone.

We're all packed in, sitting down, covering the basement of Megatunes on Whyte yesterday like human linoleum over the carpet.

Whatever the capacity is, the room seems to be about 15 or 20 people over, somewhere in the neighbourhood of 200.

The sexy gig posters of Tara McPherson cover the brick walls, the faces are mostly young and cheerful - and excited to be in at all. Store management was turning latecomers away at the door.

From a backroom door without a handle, the five-piece band emerges - six if you count the stuffed tiger. With that, the Toronto singer begins, making jokes every time he opens his lips.

"Seriously, it's a holiday - why aren't your families here? Where's my family?"

Record store appearances, you have to understand, aren't exactly ideal - things are cramped, unpredictable. But they do the fans so much. Without them, I never would have met Alice Cooper in an extremely large mall, for example.

Workman works the room with a casual but professional ease, letting requests rule the set list. On his own, he starts the show with All the Trees Are Hers.

Like most of his music there are hints of cabaret, glam and a theatrical sort of energy that's definitely emotional enough to be respectfully dubbed feminine.

"Some of us got speeding tickets today and some of us didn't," he self-defines with ironic dopiness, coy banter that he takes a while to come up with, looking for the funniest mix of words.

Later on, after Safe and Sound, for example, he says, "We always do this song to celebrate not being dead yet. No pilot has crashed us, no ... boat sailor has run us aground."

It's hard to explain exactly why this is funny, but it is, beyond silliness.

He then claims to have written another song for Travis Tritt. And he is making fun.

As far as hits go, the Ontario singer loosens only Jealous of Your Cigarette into our heads. Striptease is yelled for, but perhaps at tonight's show at the Winspear Centre.

Failing that, I know for a fact strippers like to dance to this song almost as much as Cold November Rain by Guns N' Roses.

Unlike his last visit to Megatunes, when the singer showed up with just a guitar, his band was a delightfully, safely weird presence.

David Christiensen played various exhaler's instruments, like this cool jazz flute and a bass clarinet with a panda hanging off it.

Keyboardist Todd Lumley was right in the centre of some of the best musical whirlwinds, too, and Workman teased him with the tiger as he pounded the keys.

The famous Jesse Zubot did some most excellent fiddle playing in the back corner, too, as Ruth Cassie harmonized, breaking down Cigarette into a duet. Good stuff.

Workman also kept calling out for forgotten lyrics from this one dude in the crowd who essentially became part of the band in a Dave Letterman-Paul Schaeffer way.

But this is exactly the best thing about these kinds of semi-secret concerts.

The room had a 1960 cabaret feel, a mood that has almost entirely been wiped off the face of the Earth by professional wrestling fans with flame tattoos.

Not that there was anything "high culture" about the show yesterday. It's just that things don't tend to be that unassumingly nice much anymore.


"Concert review: Hawksley Workman"

Concert review: Hawksley Workman
Lynn Saxberg, Ottawa Citizen
Published: Friday, February 29, 2008
Singer-songwriter Hawksley Workman kicked off his Canadian tour in Ottawa on Thursday with a magnificient, sprawling performance that involved strange costumes, oddball instruments, a wide selection of songs and an empty stool behind the drum kit.

While it looked like someone forgot to tell the drummer about the gig, apparently that was planned. Workman and his keyboardist, Mr. Lonely, shared the stickhandling duties as required, which was just one aspect of the shifting configuration of the group. Over the course of the two and a half hour concert, Workman's band transformed from a mostly acoustic lineup (with mandolin, guitar, saxophone and flute) to a shred-worthy rock outfit.

For a sold-out crowd of 800 or so packed into the overheated auditorium of Bronson Centre, it was quite the journey, the music covering ground from cabaret to back porch to arena rock. "You're guinea pigs," Workman informed us, admitting to some first-night jitters.

In song, his first words to the audience were f--- off, the outburst of profanity marking the beginning of We Will Still Need a Song. Inexplicably, he and the band members wore beanie caps festooned with antennae as they sat for the campfire-style opening segment, Workman crunched up behind a toy drumkit.

Once they'd received the proper energy from the crowd, the antennae caps were doffed and Workman remarked on the fact that so many tours have begun in Ottawa. "Ottawa's always really randy," he teased, no doubt fully aware of the effect of his sensual, flamboyant performing style on a conservative crowd.

Stretched to his full height, electric guitar in hand, Workman sailed into the opening vocal motif from the terrific All the Trees are Hers, song number one on his fine new disc, Between the Beautifuls. He didn't get far. He stopped, fumbled and mumbled some more about the latent sexiness of Ottawa, and tried again.

It was a little pitchy, as Simon might say, but things improved quickly with the beautifully haunting Prettier Face, the mood enhanced by the ethereal voice of keyboardist Ruth Cassie, and a cool flute line. You and the Candles, which Workman described as the first political song he'd ever written, had a sweet, old-fashioned air, while the soulful, dramatic Goodbye Radio featured some impressive group whistling.

Between songs, Workman tended to ramble, his nerves showing as he twittered from topic to topic, touching on his recent tour of Australia, a girlfriend who smoked cigarettes, a dog he wanted to adopt. "Talking's easier," he said when he realized what he was doing, "and it's completely free with the ticket price."

Hilarity aside, there were many musical highlights of the concert, including a dramatic reading of the new song, What Would You Say to Me, God, a neat vocal breakdown in Smoke Baby Smoke and an unplugged version of Canadian Motorcycle Gangs, the band members sitting along the edge of the stage, playing without amplification.

While all musical eccentricities were rewarded with warm, sustained applause, the level of devotion spiked when Workman and his musicians slipped into green jumpsuits and picked up rock instruments. Why the green suits? Who knows, but by that point, Workman's voice was clear and powerful and the band rocked. People leaped to their feet as the main part of the concert ended with This City is a Drag, Striptease and Jealous of Your Cigarette.

It was a clear sign that the music (and hopefully, the banter) will get tighter as the tour progresses. However, there's one piece of constructive criticism that should be addressed immediately: lose the antennae caps - or else the only thing anyone is going to remember from this tour will be the dorky photos.

- Ottawa Citizen

"Between The Rock And A Hard Place: Newfoundland, Great Big Sea, Alan Doyle, And Even Russell Crowe"

Keyboards/Drums: Mr. Lonely; Keyboards/Vocals par excellence: Ruth Cassie; Fiddle Afire: Jessie Zubot; Flute/Clarinet/Sax: David Christensen. Hawksley played most everything on stage, and he did it all so well.

- blogger


"Ivan Blackbird's Story" is Ruth's much anticipated debut full-length album. Available on itunes! Songs are currently receiving airplay online at CBCRadio1, CBCRadio3, and Hunters Bay Radio, "Ivan Blackbird's Story" charted in Lethbridge, Alberta, & North York on CKXU & CHRY.

A CBC podcast of a concert Ruth sang supporting Hawksley Workman can be found @

Ruth's latest field recordings can be heard at



Ruth Cassie's debut album, Ivan Blackbird's Story, came out in 2010 to critical praise and a demand for more. Muskoka Sound Festival co-founder, Andy McLean, once compared Ruth's sound to Florence and the Machine. Ruth Cassie has played on her own & supported other artists such as Hawksley Workman, in live music venues round the globe, including Arlene's Grocery in NYC, Ottawa's Zaphod Beeblebrox, Toronto's The Painted Lady, The Cameron House, C'est What, a guest appearance at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern with Ruth Minnikin, and she was invited to sing with Jadea Kelly on her 2013 CD launch of Clover. Collaborations also include:  recording background vocals on Hawksley Workman's albums "Between the Beautifuls" (2008) & "Los Manlicious", recording with producer Karl Mohr, performing in the round with Karyn Ellis, Carlos del Junco & Linda McLean, playing music with Tom Juhas, Daniel Neill, Tyler Emond, Amanda Penner, Nisha Coleman, Alex McMaster, Luke Vassella (Australia), Steve Dagg, Brennan Pilkington.