Howdy! New release, 'The Triumph of Assimilation" is out!
"There's Jews in Oklahoma?" Yup. It's BBQ, not Bagels. And we're not a punchline.
Yikhes (yiddish for "my lineage, my story")
Oklahoma-born, Texas-reared, and now living in New Orleans, multi-instrumentalist Mark Rubin is an unabashed Southern Jew, known equally for his muscular musicianship and larger-than-life persona. Over an accomplished 30+ year career, he has accompanied or produced a virtual who’s-who of American traditional music, while straddling numerous musical genres, including Country, Western Swing, Bluegrass, Cajun, Tex-Mex, Polka, Klezmer, Roma, and more. He is perhaps best known for co-founding the notorious proto-Americana band Bad Livers, though his more recent work as a first call tuba and bass player in the klezmer music scene has now earned him equivalent notoriety.
His credits in the Jewish music world include long time collaborations with Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All-Stars, The Other Europeans, and Andy Statman, as well as two decades on faculty at KlezKamp. He has been featured performer and instructor with multiple appearances at Yiddish Summer Weimar, KlezFest London, KlezMore Vienna, Klezmer Festival Furth, Festival of Jewish Culture Krakow among others. Jew of Oklahoma debuted as a special feature at Toronto's Ashkenaz Festival in 2016.
Today, he lives and works as a professional musician in New Orleans and makes a study of the musical traditions and cultures of South Louisiana. He recently took a position at the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience where he jokes he's an exhibit, (www.msje.org).
Here's his Wiki page for more:
"Mark is simply one of my very favorite all around fantastic and authentic real folk musicians!" - Chris Strachwitz, Arhoolie Records
“Everything Mark Rubin does is done with no compromise. He is fearless, fearsome, and most of all, completely musical!” - Gurf Morlix
“Mark Rubin’s songwriting silences the superficial chatter, revealing myriad stories that tell just as much about his community as his role within it in the 21st century,” - Dom Flemmons
The Oklahoman :
Reviews of my work
"Mark Rubin is a legend from back in the alt country days, known for his pioneering work in the 90s with his band The Bad Livers in Austin. While he’s never left behind his earlier punk bonafides, his new work in recent years, billed as Mark Rubin - Jew of Oklahoma, has been more focused on the complexity of his identity as a Jewish person of Southern descent. With his new album, The Triumph of Assimilation, he masterfully melds old-school roots music with Yiddish protest songs and brutally acerbic ruminations on the long history of American anti-semitism."
"If an Okie Jew had a banjo and set his latest tune to a field-song arrangement, he’d very likely wind up with something like “It’s Burning"...It’s not what one might expect from a Jewish dude. But that’s the point of the track and the Triumph of Assimilation as whole."
"To live in New Orleans is to master the art of juggling.
On the one hand, that’s a great thing. Residents fighting to keep various food traditions from hitting the floor lead to the city’s famously blended culinary culture. On the other, you have a locale with terrible transit and neighborhoods that will flood if the faucet’s left on. You take the good with the bad, the bowling pins with the chainsaws, and you do your best to not make a mess of it.
With that said, it’s not surprising that Mark Rubin ended up here. It’s actually a wonder he didn’t land here sooner. The member of defunct folk-punk icons the Bad Livers is both outspokenly Southern and proudly Jewish. He’s been juggling all his life, y’all.
On his sparse new collection of tunes, Rubin doesn’t mind letting you see him sweat as he struggles to keep both sides of his identity balanced. The cuts are rough—often the first take—but Mark’s skilled playing and Catskills wit keep the whole enterprise aloft as he cycles between stories of cultural appropriation (“Royal Street Shuffle”), the War on Drugs (“Single Joint”) and parking lot fights (“Ballpeen Clawhammer”)." - Alex Galbreith, Offbeat Magazine, New Orleans LA 2/28/2018
"Mark Rubin has created a masterpiece of American dark humor and grief. A bucket of personal history thrown into the wagons, mixed with the southern subterranean gravy of love and loathing. Since leaving Austin for New Orleans he has somehow managed to position himself as the Godzilla of Gypsy Juke N' Tuba Two-Step." -Kevin Russel (shinyribs)
“With Passover beginning tomorrow night, I can't think of a better time to listen to Mark Rubin's fabulous "The Dark Side Has Doughnuts" over and over and over again, along with all the other songs on his really remarkable (and often very funny) new album, "Songs for the Hangman's Daughter." It's the best singer-songwriter album I've heard in a very long time.”
- Michael Wex NYT Best Selling author
"The best way to be faithful to musical traditions is very rarely to go for the slavish copy. Slavish is never a good look. It invariably sounds like what it is, a copy of something. For my money, the artists who come closest to capturing what I love about old music are not the ones who have worked for years to get every note just right, to sound exactly like their examples, but the ones who seem to have an instinctive grasp of the energy of the music, of it’s heart, of what makes it special; those who have the ability to channel that understanding into the music they make. You can include Mark Rubin’s work in that category" - Lyons Recorder, Lyons CO, 2010
Sights & Sounds
It's Burning. Video by Danny Barnes
Belorussian Jewish Old Time Tunes
October 30 2017 w/ Craig Judelman, fiddle. Blackpot Festival, Lafayette LA
"Whitey's on the Moon" from Southern Discomfort
April 2009, The Kennedy Center, Washington DC