Performing at The Blues Festival Main Event,Saturday February 15th
if you haven’t been paying attention to his career, this is the short version of what you need to know: Chris Ruest is the real thing. The New Englander has been a resident of Texas for well over a decade. Already a serious student and lover of traditional blues and blues-oriented jazz artists, the singer-guitarist came up through Brian “Hash Brown” Calway’s band (justly regarded as the finishing school of choice for aspiring Dallas blues musicians), and has worked with many of the Lone Star State’s most important talents, including the great Ray Sharpe (“Linda Lu”).
Chris Ruest belongs to the impressive class of serious Texas blues guitarists, a group that includes Johnny Moeller, Shawn Pittman, and Nick Curran. While the others may have wider name recognition, Ruest has quietly built a reputation of excellence that is spreading beyond his Austin home base. A veteran with nearly two decades’ experience on the bandstand, Ruest’s passion for classic blues (jump, Chicago, and Gulf Coast) and roots rock forms comes through in an original voice that combines immediacy and authenticity. Dead-on songwriting and savvy selection of covers provide a platform for his unaffected, honest vocals and tough guitar.
The Connecticut native’s interest in guitar was encouraged by his father and his uncle, jazz musician Louis Mastrobattisto. Ruest began taking lessons at 15, hoping, rather typically, to emulate blues-based rock guitarists Duane Allman, Eric Clapton, and Jimmy Page, but soon discovered the artists who inspired them. Gradually his core group of touchstone artists expanded to include the likes of Hubert Sumlin, Pee Wee Crayton, Robert Nighthawk, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Pat Hare, Eddie Taylor, Freddie King, Magic Sam, Robert Lockwood, Luther Tucker, T-Bone Walker, Albert Collins, Tiny Grimes, and many others. After playing around Connecticut between the ages of 17 and 25, Ruest resolved to make music his main priority, gave up his factory job, and relocated to Texas in 1999.
Ruest’s band has opened for Bobby “Blue” Bland, Johnny Winter, Little Charlie and the Nightcatsand many more. 2004 brought Ruest’s recording debut as a solo artist, Too Many Problems, a spirited collection that captured crisp performances in glorious, true-to-vintage sound. The notable players who appeared on that disc, including Preston Hubbard, Matt Farrell, and “Kaz” Kazanoff in addition to Curran and Hash Brown, offer testimony to the respect Ruest commands among his colleagues. Now expanding his performance schedule to a wider circuit that includes California, Spain, Sweden, France, Costa Rica, MO, CT, Mass, RI, VT, ME, NH, TN, TX, Houston, Gruene,Corpus Christi, and San Antonio, and club and festival dates outside Texas, Ruest recorded a follow-up CD No 2nd Chances a 3rd release Live at Shakespeares with Ronnie James and Jd Dtullio, and has just completed 2 more albums on joint effort with piano legend Gene Taylor titled Too Late Now (available july 21 on El Toro Records Spain) and another album recorded for Enviken Records of Sweden released by early 2018!
In 1999, Chris Ruest moved from the northeastern United States to Texas, where he soon began working with the top talent in Dallas and Austin, and cultivated solid connections to Texas blues and rock and roll history through friendships with Sam Myers and Ray Sharpe. Since 2005, the Texas-based artist has released three solo CDs, featuring performers including Hash Brown, Nick Curran, Preston Hubbard, Ronnie James, and Kaz Kazanoff. Those albums, and his contributions to the all-star group Texas Cannonballs, reveal one of the strongest, most original voices in contemporary blues and roots rock. In 2017, Ruest recorded the impressively real and raw blues project It’s Too Late Now, with a trio rounded out by the storied Gene Taylor on piano and Brian Fahey (The Paladins) on drums.