Rick Ruskin | Words Fail Me

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United States - Washington

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Blues: Acoustic Blues Blues: Finger-Picked Guitar Moods: Instrumental
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Words Fail Me

by Rick Ruskin

Fingerstyle guitar playing not solely for other guitarists. The music is never overshadowed by technique.
Genre: Blues: Acoustic Blues
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Lullaby
3:09 $0.99
2. Hey There, Baby
3:11 $0.99
3. See-Saw
2:34 $0.99
4. Model Railroad
3:14 $0.99
5. Long Walk Home
2:55 $0.99
6. Places To Hide
2:33 $0.99
7. Cut To The Chase
3:52 $0.99
8. Satchel
3:53 $0.99
9. Heavy Traffic
3:35 $0.99
10. Art By Accudent
2:49 $0.99
11. Gratitude
3:20 $0.99
12. Glass Guitar
2:43 $0.99
13. & 50 Cents Gets You A Cup Of Coffee
3:31 $0.99
14. Words Fail Me
3:01 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes

Rick Ruskin started playing guitar in 1962 and in just one year became a respected professional musician in his native Detroit, Michigan. In 1964, while still in Jr. High School, he was chosen to open the bill for the Reverend Gary Davis at Detroit's legendary Retort Coffee House. This engagement resulted in a fast and permanent friendship with the master blues, ragtime, and gospel guitarist. Rev. Davis was so taken by the young Ruskin's skill and eagerness, that he invited Rick to spend that summer with him at his Long Island home. By the end of the summer, Davis stopped teaching Rick new material and told him, "It's time you started paying attention to your own music." Ruskin has been doing that ever since.

Rick Ruskin's achievements as a musician and composer are many and

Original Compositions and/or Arrangements Used By:

Mel Bay Publications

A&E Network



Hewlett Packard

Second Story Television

Armand Hammer Productions

TEAC Corporation of America

Fostex Electronics

James B. Lansing Sound


Lead Guitarist for Jackie De Shannon

Acoustic Guitarist for Olivia Newton-John

Rhythm Guitarist for Tanya Tucker

Jeremiah Johnson soundtrack

A Boy and His Dog soundtrack

Kid Blue soundtrack

Composed the film score for American Film Institute's,


Once Upon A Time, Lion Dog Music

Words Fail Me, Lion Dog Music

Turn the Page, Beachwood Records

Against Tradition, (with Karen Leigh Williams) Soundboard Music

Sounds Familiar, (with Lewis Ross) Revere Records

Songs, Hymns and Carols, (with Lewis Ross) Revere Records

On The Cheap, (with Lewis Ross) Lion Dog Music

John Fahey Visits Washington, D.C., Takoma Records

Six String Conspiracy, Takoma Records

Christmas with John Fahey: VOL.II, Takoma Records

Microphone Fever, Takoma Records

Richard Ruskin, Takoma Records


Words Fail Me - The Complete Transcriptions, Slice Of Life Publications

The Takoma Sessions, John August Music/Mel Bay

Fingerstyle Groove Guitar, Video Progressions

Acoustic Fingerstyle Guitar, Video Progressions

Fingerstyle Christmas, VOL. I, Video Progressions

Fingerstyle Christmas, VOL. II, Video Progressions

Acoustic Guitar Magazine

Fingerstyle Guitar Magazine

FRETS Magazine


The Occasional Cafe - WA

Coffee Gallery - CA

Boulevard Music - CA

The Fret House - CA

Temecula Art gallery - CA

McCabes - CA

Freight and Salvage - CA

The Ice House - CA

California Traditional Music Society - CA




U of M - MI

Wayne State University - MI

Chaps - MI

Elderly Instruments - MI

Portland Guitar Society - OR

The Rose Festival - OR

Oregon College of Education - OR

Western Washington University - WA

University of Puget Sound - WA

University of Minnesota - MN

Monroe Center Coffee House - WA

The Backstage - WA

The Crystal Star - WA

The Epicurean - WA

The Antique Sandwich - WA

Still Life Coffee House - WA

Bumbershoot - WA

Folk Life Festival - WA

Museum of History and Industry - WA

What Reviewers Have Said About Rick Ruskin:

"Sometime in the mid 90's, I got three instruction VHS tapes of Rick Ruskin. I recently bought two of his CD's off of itunes and he is truly awesome. ....Rick Ruskin's music, while guitaristic with things like hammer ons and bends and so forth -- technique is always secondary to the music. You could compare him to Pete Huttlinger in that regard. I have played for about 25 years since I was a teenager and just in the last few years, I feel my own playing has improved because I have concentrated on musical phrasing -- playing loud notes loud and soft notes soft and shaping a phrase to fit the music. Rick Ruskin's music is a great example of how sometimes its not how many notes you play but how you play them that makes the difference between art and crap. Do yourself a favor and check him out." (Posted on the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum -UMGF.COM)

"... In these days of all the high-energy slaps and electronics effects,
it is most rewarding to find an inventive guitarist who can deliver the guitar
in the original steel and wood sound.....Amazing talent"

"...so brilliant at times that he seems to transcend normal
approaches to the guitar....Ruskin may be the smoothest
technical player around. Flashy, fast, inventive and
musical and that isn't easy." (GUITAR PLAYER)

"...a standout guitarist..." (BILLBOARD)

"...the detail and precision of Ruskin's playing are well
known among fingerpickers..." (GUITAR PLAYER)

"...He has impeccable technique and the good taste and sense
to know that merely showing off technical wizardry can be
deathly boring." (MILWAUKEE WEEKLY)

"...one of the best finger-style guitarists in the

"...Ruskin's touch is peerless, his playing is flawless..."

"...he is one of the most refined and expressive guitar
players I've heard...Ruskin has enjoyable stage presence..."

"...Ruskin creates some of the most beautifully toned guitar
solos ever heard..." (SAN DIEGO NEWS PRESS)

"...Ruskin is one of the finest people I've heard in a
long time. His vocals come across with ease and a
brilliance that brings to mind Cat Stevens...As a guitarist,
he is unbelievably great. The man has a style that makes
each song new and exciting to listen to..."

"...Though I have nothing against Leo Kottke, 'the greatest
folk guitarist on earth does seem a bit overstated. I
suggest you listen to Steve Goodman, RICHARD RUSKIN, Merle
Travis, Doc Watson, Chet Atkins, William Ackerman or Fred
Epping before you crown the King." (PEOPLE)



to write a review

Mark O'Donnell/ Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange.

Excellent overall from a player with a different fingerstyle apporach.
Rick Ruskin, like Fahey, Lang, and Kottke, is a skilled acoustic guitarist who writes his own tunes. The difference, however, is the application of a singular style and viewpoint developed over decades. One of the approaches that distinguishes Ruskin from his colleagues is his defining use of the bass, which, on several of the tunes contained herein, provides a significant accompaniment to the treble melody. This bass accompaniment can be found on Model Railroad, and Glass Guitar" as well as on Hey There, Baby. Many of these songs evidence a pleasing, jaunty feel with low-key funky basslines that keep the melodies moving. Lullaby, by contrast, is as the name implies a soft, lilting, hummable tune perfect to sending a child off to sleep. Ruskin has quite a nice way with a melody, as is most readily apparent on Art By Accident, where the treble lines and accompanying bass complement each other and provide a memorable balance. Satchel, too, is a great, catchy tune which again employs a great funky bassline, as well as some nicely underplayed drumming/fingersnapping.

Some of the tunes are almost like old friends---there being something familiar in the tune; Gratitude and Places To Hide come to mind here. Ironically, given the album title, implying an all-instrumental effort, there are two songs with Ruskin's heartfelt vocal accompaniment. These also happen to be the only two tunes with other instrumentation and, frankly, neither works well. The break in instrumentation only serves to jar the mood created by the intimate recording of the unaccompanied acoustic guitar on the other songs. Despite Ruskin's pleasant voice, as in Words Fail Me, ultimately, the songs do not work in the overall context of the album. Still twelve out of fourteen is not bad. Rick Ruskin is one of those artists with subtlety and skill who deserve a much wider audience. One can only hope that NPR or the like will find this recording and give it a national airing. Ruskin deserves to be heard, as does this well-recorded and generally quite intimate recording.

Victory Music Review

Amazing talent
Ruskin is a premiere guitarist taking the 6 string into a melodic easy rhythmic arena that many attempt, but few achieve, as in the jazz ballad feel of "Lullaby" or the warm rolling stop time of "See-Saw." His music flows, is not complex, and depends on accuracy with a joyous
warmth as on "Model Railroad." Ruskin is a musician's musician or "How can I play that clean and still interpret?" The ease of how the music rolls of as in "Long Walk Home" is deceptive, you get carried into the corners of your mind, find yourself drifting with the music.
In these days of all the high-energy slaps, pull-offs, electronic effects, it is most rewarding to find an inventive guitarist who can deliver the guitar in the original steel and wood sound..............
This is a most rewarding recording which is balanced, clear, clean and the solo guitar pieces like "Heavy Traffic" will stand the test of time for beauty and musicality. Amazing talent.