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Rick Ruskin & Vivian Williams | The Gospel According To

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Spiritual: Traditional Gospel Blues: Finger-Picked Guitar Moods: Type: Acoustic
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The Gospel According To

by Rick Ruskin & Vivian Williams

What happens when fingerstyle, R&B, & funk guitar combine with championship caliber traditional fiddle? The result is so unique that it breathes new life into traditional gospel favorites.
Genre: Spiritual: Traditional Gospel
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. I Am A Pilgrim
3:12 $0.99
2. Jesus Loves Me
3:28 $0.99
3. Amazing Grace
2:59 $0.99
4. Swing Low Sweet Chariot
3:11 $0.99
5. Just A Closer Walk With Thee
4:00 $0.99
6. Farther Along
4:03 $0.99
7. This Little Light Of Mine
3:27 $0.99
8. What A Friend We Have In Jesus
3:14 $0.99
9. Children Go Where I Send Thee
4:53 $0.99
10. I'll Fly Away
3:11 $0.99
11. Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho
2:23 $0.99
12. Wayfaring Stranger
3:51 $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)

Vivian Williams is well known in the U.S. and Canada for her fiddling ability. She performs regularly for old time dancing and is one of the leading old time and bluegrass fiddlers on the West Coast. She has won many fiddle contests in the U.S. and Canada, including: 1999 National Senior Champion (Weiser) and Washington State Senior Champion, three times Washington State fiddle champion, three times National Ladies Champion, four times winner of the West Coast International in Canada, and she won the Smithsonian Fiddle Contest in Washington, D.C., among many. She has judged many contests, including the National Old-time Fiddle Contest, Weiser, ID.
Vivian plays primarily in the old time fiddle styles found among fiddlers in the Pacific Northwest, with a heavy influence of bluegrass. She is a noted composer of fiddle tunes many of which have been recorded by prominent folk and bluegrass musicians. Her work has been published in folk, fiddle, and bluegrass periodicals, posted on the Internet, and have been used in documentary movies on Northwest history.

Vivian and her husband, Phil own and operate Voyager Recordings & Publications, which has released recordings of over 85 fiddlers and has developed the most extensive recorded archive of Northwest fiddle and old time music in the country. She has collected and published three volumes of "Brand New Old Time Fiddle Tunes," containing 461 fiddle tunes written by contemporary fiddlers, mostly from the Pacific Northwest.
Phil & Vivian also helped found the Seattle Folklore Society, Northwest Folklife, and the Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association.



to write a review

Glenn Korbel

Give me that "Old-time" religion
The Gospel According to Rick Ruskin and Vivian Williams is not only a stellar collection of gospel music pared down to its most fundamental elements, it is a journey to the hearts core. As I listen to What a Friend we have in Jesus, I am back again in the old south on a Sunday night. There is the pure light of a Hunter's moon and the air is filled with the scent of confederate jasmine. The plaintiff sounds of Vivian Williams' fiddling on Amazing Grace takes me back to a brown ribbon of a country road where I watch sharecroppers bent over the white-hot anvil of a cotton field. And so it goes with each cut on the album. Places long forgotten and voices stilled parade through memory.
Religion, it has been said, is nothing more than living the simple life. Tolstoy regained his lost faith by watching Russian peasants lead their simple lives. There are those who will find their faith again by listening again and again to this remarkable collection of gospel classics.

Harvey Gerst

Most definitely not your typical instrumental gospel or guitar/fiddle duet recor
........... my problem with this new CD from Rick: "The Gospel, According
To Rick Ruskin & Vivian Williams". He and Vivian are too damn good. I
can't just sit back and enjoy it; I hafta listen, and re-listen, and
then listen a few more times to catch everything, but I always end up
feeling like I missed something, so I hafta listen to it again. This has
been going on for several months now...............

Christi Nebel

Devine duets of old favorites
These friends combine their much acclaimed skills on finger-style acoustic guitar and violin to create a new invention on an old tradition of folk and gospel favorites. Williams contributes her award-winning precision violin to the melodies while Ruskin dances around her with playful blues-influenced guitar rhythms. Each represents a pinnacle in their respective skills, complimenting one another delightfully.

Victory Review

Wonderful & unique renditions of gospel favorites by 2 master musicians.
Acoustic guitar legend Rick Ruskin gets together with national treasure Vivian Williams and sounding as if they’re sitting together in Rick’s living room, they fashion an utterly delightful recording of gospel chestnuts ranging from “Jesus Loves Me, to “Amazing Grace” to “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” to “I’ll Fly Away.” On each track, Ruskin creates a unique backing arrangement. For one song, the guitar seems slightly formal, for another it becomes mildly funky, for yet another it seems to have been bitten by the jazz bug. Thus, a set that could have grown mildly
tedious – in spite of the players’ craftsmanship – keeps kicking itself into a new groove and stays very much alive. Vivian, throughout, provides a very rootsy reading of each song, her fiddle impeccably clear and rich. Ruskin’s guitar swirls around her traditional sound like a chorus of “Amens” in every possible language…
The songs are as familiar as Cheerios for breakfast – but truly, they taste as wonderful as they possibly could. All that sugar and molasses and can I get a witness! You need your own copy of this set.

Fran Guidry

Great sounding recording of excellent guitar and fiddle playing.
....The sound of this CD is immediately impressive - clear, clean, and natural, with solid
dynamics and an open, uncluttered sound stage.

The arrangements keep making me smile. Vivian plays pretty straight interpretations of the familiar melodies with a big clear tone, but Rick seems determined to to inject a bit of a twist, with R&B licks, sliding harmonies, walking bass lines, countermelodies, and a generally
sideways approach. Never enough to distract, but always adding unusual touches to these familiar tunes.

Ray Boyce

Imaginative and superb
Got this a coupla months ago... First time I heard it, I liked it enough to buy 3 copies, and I have given 2 away to friends......
The arrangements are imaginative and superb, and anyone that buys it won't be disappointed.

Acoustic Guitar Magazine

Whatever your religious persuasion, this rootsy album is truly a tonic for the s
Fingerstyle guitarist Rick Ruskin and fiddler Vivian Williams team up on 12 familiar hymns and spirituals, including “Jesus Loves Me,” Just A Closer Walk With Thee,” and “I’ll Fly Away,” imbuing them with a strong, buoyant gospel feel. While Ruskin kicks off “Jesus Loves Me” with churchy-sounding chords, his arrangements draw mostly on ragtime, blues, and other roots styles that evolved alongside the traditional American liturgical genre into which most of these tunes fall. Ruskin gives Merle Travis’ “I Am A Pilgrim” a bouncy ragtime treatment and on “Just A Closer Walk with Thee,” he uses a loping rhythmic figure that is a variant of Reverend Gary Davis’ song “Candy Man.” On several tunes – notably “Swing Low Sweet Chariot, and “Farther Along” – Ruskin simulates a gospel choir with his guitar and provides interesting counterpoint to Williams’ fairly straight melody readings. While most of the CD is a simple duo recording, a bass-and-drums rhythm section propels the duo’s version of “This Little Light of Mine,” where Ruskin rocks out on a deft solo that includes some excellent sting bending. Whatever your religious persuasion, this rootsy album is truly a tonic for the soul.

(Ron Forbes-Roberts)