As far as Rusty Ends is concerned, constructing barriers between various roots music genres is an exercise in futility. The Louisville-based singer/guitarist has no compunctions about seamlessly blending those idioms into his own distinctive sound, which he’s been honing to a razor’s edge for well over half a century now. It’s been a long musical odyssey for Rusty, one that’s still going strong.
What’s more, Ends happens to be a prolific songwriter; his albums are full of fascinating original material. “When I was a kid I heard a lot,” says Rusty. “I grew up hearing blues, rock and roll, and country music. I heard all three of those things. And it was country guitar players that influenced me a lot, too. And sometimes it comes out and sometimes it doesn’t.”
Roadhouses were primarily where Rusty learned his trade, a wide-open breeding ground where all those genres intersected. Musically fertile Louisville spawned its own star-studded cadre of performers over the decades—everyone from accordion wielding country bandleader Pee Wee King and beguiling jazz chanteuse Helen Humes to hearty blues shouter Cliff Butler and Harvey Fuqua’s classy R&B vocal group, the Moonglows—and Rusty yearned to follow in their famous footsteps.
In 1992, Ends was a primary member of the Rusty Spoon Blues Band, whose album Midnight Screams for producer Scott Mullins’ Rollin’ & Tumblin’ label featured guest singer Curtis Gaines. “I feel like it may have been a more honest CD if it had just been the four of us without the added vocals,” admits the sizzling guitarist, who was front and center vocally on this album Rusty Ends Blues Band, which was previously released in 1996 by Rollin’ & Tumblin’ Records, which folded shortly thereafter.
Earwig Music Company is re-releasing this fun album which never Got proper distribution the first time around 25 years ago. Rusty’s still on his crusade to illustrate the myriad connections between his favorite genres. “People going to the honky tonks and the juke joints, it’s the same kind of people. It’s the same kind of experiences. They’re wanting to do the same thing. They’re going there, they want to forget their troubles, have a good time.” That’s a guarantee anytime Rusty Ends hits the stage.
— BILL DAHL