Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers
By Amy Dalness
Sunday, Aug. 27, Bandito Hideout (all-ages); 8:30 p.m., $6: Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers are a band because, plain and simple, they enjoy each other's company. "You can hear that we like each other and that we’ve been working together for a long time," says Ruby Dee. She and the Snakehandlers have been playing roots, rockabilly and genuine country for the past four years. Ruby may write all the lyrics, she says, but the band is what really makes the songs come to life. "We all add something to the mix, and that's important," Ruby says. For this quintet, the "and" might be the most significant part of their name.
The teamwork Ruby speaks of is especially evident on North of Bakersfield, the group’s latest release. “4500 Saturdays” features yelps and trumpets, “I Will Always Return” opens like a fireside tale and meanders into a dance ballad, and “Walkin’ Lie” is just plain, driven country rock. “So Lonely” could as easily be a Beach Boys song with upbeat, surf-style harmonies, courtesy of Ruby and Snakehandler Liz Smith.
The album sounds like a live recording, which was an important choice for the group. “We're more than just musicians,” Ruby says. “We put on a performance.” And if the audience is dancing, Ruby says she knows she's doing her job.
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