Ruthie and the Wranglers
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Ruthie and the Wranglers

Takoma Park, Maryland, United States | INDIE

Takoma Park, Maryland, United States | INDIE
Band Americana Country

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The addition of keyboardist-vocalist Bill Starks to the longtime Wranglers lineup of bassist Greg Hardin, drummer Robbie Magruder and guitarist Phil Mathieu takes the D.C.-based honky-tonkers to a new, fresh level on Americana Express. This fast-moving collection of a dozen tunes, their fifth disc since 1996 and their first since 2003, will wow longtime fans and make new ones out of those just discovering Ruthie Logsdon and friends.

Logsdon, the frontwoman and main vocalist, lets Hardin get in the first words on "In The Tank", a hard-driving ode to aging that turns into an all-in romp propelled by guest Andy Rutherford's chugging baritone guitar and Stark's bright, tight piano. Logsdon unearths and resuscitates a Loretta Lynn obscurity, "You Wanna Give Me A Lift"; it sounds so much like the rest of Logsdon's catalogue that it could have passed as a Ruthie original. But she performs it in her own key and with her own timing, to superb effect. Logsdon's development as a songwriter is clear on "If I Could Turn Back Time", a ballad with a slow-burning verse that climbs patiently on Mathieu's melody to the payoff of the chorus.
Ruthie recently discovered that she and early country star Jimmie Logsdon were third cousins, and thus includes a rollicking cover of Jimmie's rockabilly standard "I Got A Rocket In My Pocket", with Starks' playful glissandos underscoring the jump beat deftly pounded out by drummer Magruder and Hardin. Starks wrote and sings "Repo Man", a languid, humorous two-step that sounds like something Doug Sahm might have done with the Texas Tornados. To that end, Raul Malo might want to check out Hardin's "Life And Death And Hope And Dreams", which has a very Mavericks-y feel. In fact, it feels like two Malobars in one: the loosely played chorus and bridge, and the faster verse driven by a Tex-Mex accordion.

Just when you thought all the good turns of phrases in country music were gone, Hardin comes up with "The Last Word In Love", which, as we discover "must be goodbye." Nice. The fun also rises with the bluegrass harmonies and banjo of the ironically titled heartbreak ditty "I'm So Sad" ("it's almost like you're still here"), the self-descriptive "All The Honky Tonks Are Closin' Down", the instrumental "SurfTango", and the three-part harmony swing of "Ka-Ching".
- NoDepression


Not exactly sure why, but I have considerable respect for the Washington Area Music Awards, maybe because they've given so many to Bill Kirchen, and also to long time 3CM favorite Ruth Logsdon and her terrific band, who've been mopping up in the country categories for 12 years now and must have trouble finding places to stash all those plaques. It's been a while since Someday (Lasso, 2003), but it's the same combo, Ruthie vocals/acoustic guitar with Greg Hardin vocals/bass, who wrote five of the songs and cowrote two others with Logsdon and pianist Bill Starks, who gets writer's credit for "Repo Man," Robbie Magruder drums and killer guitarist Phil Mathieu, who wrote the instrumental "SurfTango." With only one cover among the 12 tracks, "I Got a Rocket in My Pocket" by Ruth Ann's third cousin Jimmie Logsdon (which he recorded as Jimmie Lloyd), Logsdon, long the main songwriter, takes something of a back seat, though the one song she wrote on her own, "If I Could Turn Back Time," is the albums standout, and she shares the vocals, but, if anything, this is a sign of the band's maturity, settling in for the long run in its mission to bring classic country music to our nation's seat. --John Conquest

Opal Divine's Friday 6pm; G&S Lounge, Saturday, 8pm - 3RD Coast Music (Texas)


SOMEDAY
"Ruthie and the Wranglers' "Someday" is clearly the product of many days well spent writing and recording songs -- songs vibrant or clever enough to make most of what passes for country music these days sound dead on arrival.
Of course, lead singer Ruth Logsdon's live-wire soprano could probably jump-start a collection of hopelessly fatigued tunes. But with help from her bandmates -- bassist Greg Hardin and guitarist Phil Mathieu -- she has come up with 13 fresh tracks that radiate plenty of energy and personality, not to mention a good amount of torch ("It's Blue"), tears ("For Cryin' Out Loud") and twang ("New Love").
You'll also find a few honky-tonk admonitions here, including the album's title track and the defiant "I'm Not Your Doormat," plus an occasional sonic twist, as in Mathieu's venturesome (and very Ventures-like) instrumental "Revenge of Surftilicus" and his stealthy minor-key blues "Catwalk."
In addition to writing and co-writing some of the tunes, most notably the engaging novelty "I Say Tomato," Hardin, a recent recruit, occasionally contributes vocals to the mix that warmly complement Logsdon's voice. His bass work, meanwhile, helps anchor a band that features a small but notable cast of rotating musicians, including drummers Pete Ragusa and Robbie Magruder. Rootsy and fun, "Someday" is something worth searching out.
Mike Joyce, Washington Post, September 5, 2003 - Washington Post


...Sample the saucy "New Love" or belly up to the barrelhouse "Tell 'em What They Oughta (And What They Oughta Not Do Too)". Logsdon adds spice even when she isn't singing, as we hear halfway into guitarist Phil Mathieu's tour-de-force "Revenge of Surftilicus." All the tracks on Someday are originals and the writing is strong. Logsdon gets most of the credits, but the best line is in the opening of a co-write with bassist Greg Hardin: "I say tomato, you say it's over/I say potato, you say we're through." In more ham-fisted hands this could have degenerated into a wink muscle workout, but Logsdon and Hardin don't go for cheap parody. In context, the line reads as a cri-de-coeur by someone who knows it doesn't matter what she has to say. Combine that with Mathieu's impressive guitar playing and some dandy duets with Hardin, and the Wranglers' fourth album is a winner. —Allen Stairs" - No Depression


Ruthie and the Wranglers
Someday [Lasso 72332 (2003)]
Ruthie and the Wranglers have won a slew of awards in the Washington, DC area where the group is based and deserve to start attracting more attention well beyond that area. Ruthie Logsdon’s band (guitarist Phil Mathieu and Bassist Greg Hardin) may be small, but the two of them are extremely adept at mining the rockabilly and honky-tonk genres of several decades ago. On “Someday” the group’s fourth album, the singing is engaging, and the arrangements, which are fleshed out with the help of a few guest musicians, impart a sense of fun to the material. All the songs are originals and some of them, such as “I Say Tomato,” “Lost Ball (in the High Weeds),” “If a Heart Breaks,” and “I’m Not Your Doormat,” are very clever. Hardin sings a few of his own songs, while Mathieu contributes a pair of instrumentals, namely “Revenge of Surftilicus,” which replicates the surf sound, and “Catwalk,” a twangy minor blues that ends the album on a haunting note. (PEC) - Dirty Linen


"...Ruthie and the Wranglers, who kick the Nashville right out of country. ...smart lyrics with wit and irony...irresistible combination..."
Carolyn Feola, Takoma Voice, April 2000 - Takoma Voice


"No Depression" calls Life's Savings honky tonk, "Country Music People" calls it rockabilly & honky tonk with a little shuffle thrown in and "Billboard" calls it "nothing short of brilliant." I call it jumped-up-country-boogie and ditto "Billboard"'s assessment. But whatever you want to tag it, Life's Savings is one of the coolest CDs I've heard in a while. This music is a fusion of all that's good about American roots music -- country, rockabilly, boogie & blues. Dammit -- this is what more major labels here in Nashville should be doing: great lyrics & licks that don't sound like every other song on the street; underlying wry humor that doesn't in any way mar the authentic country flavor; energy and depth and range. ...Phil Mathieu's wonderful "Farewell Polka." ... Key cuts for me were the aforementioned "Farewell Polka," Ruthie's self-penned (and hilarious) "He's A Honky Tonk Man," Ruthie & Phil's "What Mama Don't Know" and "Forgive and Forget," and Ruthie's on-target cover of Loretta Lynn's "Fist City." Actually, there's not a throwaway cut on here. It's all good. Go immediately to www.ruthieandthewranglers.com and buy this CD! If you don't love it send it to me. I'll give you your money back myself. And that's the safest offer I ever made.
Patsi Bale Cox, Patsi Bale Cox: Music & Book Site, Nashville, TN - Patsi Bale Cox-music and Book Site


The CD features 11 songs that fit comfortably into the electrified honky tonk category. ...unlike many of their poser colleagues, the quartet has also packaged genuine and timeless twangy soul in their very solid second album."
Bill Craig, Richmond Times Dispatch - Richmond Times Dispatch


by Carol Mallett Rifkin
That feeling of dancing cheek to cheek with your honey is making a comeback. Roadhouse music is all
the rage.
“It’s fun. I wish I could go see Ruthie and the Wranglers,” laughed Ruth Logsdon, lead singer for the band. With a unique blend of originals, honky-tonk, country, rock and rockabilly, the Wranglers are one of the favorite acts in the Washington, DC area. They’ll play Friday night at the Watershed in Black Mountain and Saturday at the Jack of the Wood.
“The term ‘roadhouse band’ nails it for us. We’re high energy and we love to get out of town,” said Logsdon. “We’ve won several country music awards because we’re original but we don’t like to use the country word because it makes people expect Top 40 Country and that’s what we’re not. Our entire album is original but we add music from the 50’s and 60’s like Buck Owens and Loretta Lynn. Our repertoire is varied, danceable.”
The band’s latest CD, “Someday,” won the Washington Area Music Association’s 2003 Album of the Year award. Altogether Ruthie and the Wranglers have won 25 “Wammie” awards.
That’s not bad for a group that isn’t exactly sure what they are but love what they are doing.
“Our music’s been pegged as Americana’. It’s great for bands
like us because it’s a way to be
recognized and get on the charts,” says Logsdon, referring to the growing Americana Music Association.
Logsdon is a creative explosion.
A graphic designer by day who also designs tattoo art, she attended the Maryland Institute in Baltimore.
“I have a lot of creative things going on,” she laughed. She grew up in Rockville, MD, right outside Washington, with a dad who played guitar and harmonica for fun. And she’s a distant cousin of the Legendary Jimmy logsdon, a Decca Records artist who wrote the famous rockabilly hit “I Got a Rocket in My Pocket.” I was brought up on country, going to bluegrass festivals and country festivals but I listened to punk when I was in college,” she said. It all came together in the Wranglers.
They’re bringing a full four-piece band to Western North Carolina. Logsdon sings and plays rhythm
guitar. Lead guitarist Phil Mathieu plays a Telecaster b-bender. In the right hands, (and it is) a b-bender can recreate the sound of a pedal steel, whining rhapsodically behind the music, 50’s style. “He plays great rockabilly but he’s so versatile,” says Logsdon. Greg Hardin plays bass and does vocals with Tom Fridrich sitting in on drums.
With a personality that oozes energy and fun, Logsdon breathes new life into old favorites and treats venerable honky-tonk tunes with respect. Listening to the band’s originals makes you realize how much time and energy they’ve put into their writing and music. It’s tight and well thought out. Twangy torch songs like “For Cryin’ Out L:oud” and “It’s Blue” mix it up with honky-tonk like “I’m not your doormat” and clever instrumentals like “Surftilicus.”
Phil writes the instrumentals and Greg and I write the vocals,” said Logsdon. “We love to sing together.”
___________________________
Carol Mallet Rifkin writes about music.
E-mail to cpmallet@msn.com - Asheville Citizen Times


Discography

R&Ws' latest album Ruthie and the Wrangl;ers Live at Goose Creek was released in July 2011.

Their previous album "Americana Express" was released in March 2009 and garnered radio airplay and rave reviews nationally. Ruthie's version of "Liberty" (written by Robert Hunter) was included on Azalea City Recordings Sampler3 "Songs for A Changing World" and R&Ws collaborated with Tom Russell on his track on the Peter Case Tribute CD on the Hungry for Music Label. Recordings - Full Length CDs: Live at Goose Creek," on Goose Creek Entertainment label, "Americana Express," "Someday," on Azalea City Recordings, "Ruthie and the Wranglers Live at Chick Hall's Surf Club," "Life's Savings" and "Wrangler City" on Lasso Records; Their first release: 7" vinyl single "Rockabilly Song #10" on Spinout Records; and compilations by Rounder, Run Wild, Oasis Rock, "Americana Motel," Hungry for Music and more.

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Bio

[Americana Express] "Just when you thought all the good turns of phrases in country music were gone.."
---NoDepression

“‘Someday’ is clearly the product of many days well spent writing and recording songs – songs vibrant or clever enough to make most of what passes for country music these days sound dead on arrival."
—Washington Post

The Band's Start: Ruthie grew up in Rockville, MD just outside Washington, DC. Although geographically the Logsdons were city folks, they held family hoedowns singing Hank Williams & Jimmy Dickens at any opportunity. After attending Bluegrass festivals, a few private guitar lessons and watching Country TV stars like Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton, Ruthie had enough influences from her rootsy background combined with her Rock ‘n’ Roll and Punk-influenced college days to create the beginning of Ruthie and the Wranglers. Add Ruthie’s favorite musicians and you get diverse talent and unstoppable energy.

Ruthie Logsdon and her band have racked up 30 something WAMMIES including Best Country Vocalist and Songwriter of the Year—plus Album of the Year, Artist of the Year and Song of the Year from the Washington Area Music Association. She has won honors for "Someday" and "For Cryin' Out Loud" in the Billboard World Songwriting Contest. Ruthie is related to the late Jimmie Lloyd Logsdon, author of "Rocket in My Pocket" and is carrying on a family tradition! She plays guitar and recently added mandolin to the mix.

Greg Hardin, bassist, vocalist and accomplished songwriter, brings his lead vocals, backing harmonies and bull’s eye bass guitar beat to the band’s primo show. Greg is a man with a passion for creating timeless lyrics with true musical spirit. He has written "Babe Ruth's Piano" which was named Song of the Year by WAMA.

Pianist and Vocalist, Bill Starks, adds a new dynamic to the band and has penned "Repo Man" a timely financial crisis anthem that hits home. The song was featured on WAMU 88.5 FM on May 1st and is receiving airplay around the country.

Lead guitarist, Andy Rutherford, one of the hottest roots/rock players from a town known for its pickers, adds electric guitar, baritone guitar and lap steel licks.

Media: Over the years, Ruthie and the Wranglers have performed on The Nashville Network including "Crook and Chase," "This Week in Country Music" and Prime Time Country ...appeared on every TV network in the Washington, DC area as well as coverage in other states and internationally ...been featured in Billboard, No Depression, Blue Suede News, Pollstar, Gavin, Dirty Linen, Associated Press and other national and international publications ...been aired on over 200 radio stations internationally including Americana and variety formats and were among the Top 20 on the Americana Radio Charts.

Concert Highlights: "A Tribute to Loretta Lynn," "2009 NonSXSW showcases, "Jam on the River," "AMJAM" American Music Festival, 10th Annual "Rocky Gap Music Festival," "Chicago Country Music Festival, "Music Midtown" "Riverbend Festival," "Six Flags America Country Music Festival," "Crystal River Jam," "Jim Beam Country Caravan."

Favorite Fan Quote: "I don't even like country music but I loooove Ruthie and the Wranglers!

Under the Influence(s):
We get our song ideas from funny things people say, ex-boyfriends, and dreams but also from artists like, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Bruce Springsteen, Dwight Yokam, Lucinda Williams, Jim Lauderdale, Dick Dale and Minnie Pearl.

The band sounds like Ruthie and the Wranglers! ...but they've heard comparisons like The Mavericks, Buck Owens and Asleep at the Wheel.