the legendary jim ruiz is one of the classic chickfactor singer-songwriters. his swoon-worthy songs, his gentle jazzy guitar moves, his humble ways, we love the guy. the only thing to complain about is how little music he has generated over the years! that is all going to change now that his fans have a way of contacting him (via, you know, the internet). I gave a copy of sniff to a handsome man in 2006 and it didn’t do much good, but if I were handing out valentines tomorrow I’d be sure to put the lovely legendary jim ruiz tune “be my valentine” in there too. pam interviewed the legendary jim ruiz group for cf back in 1995 or something, so we figured it was time for an update…
chickfactor: hi jim, what happened to the legendary jim ruiz group?
jim ruiz: I wasn’t sure myself, but then I was hitchhiking in glacier national park with my girlfriend laura and this older couple picked us up. I noticed a guitar and started talking gear with him. his wife asked if I was in a band and I told her I used to be. when she asked me why I quit, I blurted out “I guess I ran out of songs!”
where are the members?
they have gone on to find success in their various fields. allison is in the owls and they are about to release their second album. chris is still going strong at the minneapolis public library. he found love, he’s been with his boyfriend jeff for over a year now. stephanie has released a couple of cds and I hear she’s thinking of moving to england. danny sigelman is working for the current, a public radio station devoted to playing non-commercial modern music and he also DJs events. charlotte is married and has had two baby girls, sally and jane.
what are you doing?
I’m still working at the public library and I am also the president of my neighborhood association, the west bank community coalition.
where is the next album?
after a couple of years doing practically no music, I bought a 16-track digital recording thing. that really became my band and I’ve been working songs out on that. I’ve been fortunate enough to get help from friends and people who I would call “old jazz guys.” so my goal is to have 10 songs that I’m really happy with, I’m recording #9 now and writing #10, although I have some options for #10.
do you have a website? blog? etc.
it’s funny you should ask, I’m in the process of getting my new myspace page up and running. although it’s not even finished, I just shattered the 100 hit mark yesterday! I’m using a picture you took as my signature picture.
is minneapolis still a great pop town?
if it’s not at the moment it certainly has the potential to be. okay, we took a hit when grimsey left town but minneapolis is a musical place, it’s part of its culture. there are a lot of really great musicians around here. I think it’s only a matter of time before something happens, and now we have a radio station that will play local music that goes to the whole state; the conditions are favorable for a pop explosion.
didn’t prince leave town recently?
I would be surprised if he didn’t live here at least part of the year. his house is in minnetonka anyway, I think that’s mentioned in his movie.
what music still resonates?
I can now say with a great deal of certainty that my favorite jazz vocalist of all time is lee wiley and that the album that is the pinnacle of that genre is her west of the moon album with ralph burns. with the exception of the track “limehouse blues,” it is perfection. in fact at this very moment I am listening to her night in manhattan album that I just received in the mail today. it’s amazing, what an amazing voice, buy, buy, buy! everybody should own the mose allison sings album. he’s like an undiscovered ray charles; he should be a thousand times more famous than he is. the first two françoise hardy albums, yeah, yeah girl from paris and in vogue are still magical. I’m more and more impressed by the maturity of the would-be-goods songwriting, I just put the morning after on the other day and I think that the album has high points that haven’t been reached since the 80s. bossa nova as a genre, particularly as more brazilian stuff becomes available – an ongoing project. 60s soul music, now I’m cheating I suppose. georgie fame playing “yeah, yeah” live on ready, steady, go (1965) on youtube gives me heart palpitations. the smiths were in retrospect much better than people gave them credit for at the time, myself included. live at the star club 1962 continues to be my favorite beatles album. I have to acknowledge that in retrospect the jazz butcher/max eider alliance at a pivotal moment made me think “hey, I could write songs like that,” causing me to throw away my life on a useless dream.
what is the news on max eider?
coincidentally, I’ve been in touch with max eider and he is about to release a new album that he is self-producing. he is considering playing a couple of shows in the u.s. and let’s just say I feel like we’re in the running for a chance of warming up for him. in any case I’m putting a band together for the first time in 6 years – just in case.
do you feel like writing songs?
I always feel like writing songs, finishing them is the real problem.
when are you coming to london?
once I get this next cd done, invite me and I’ll do my best. cf
photograph: gail o’hara