Howdy! New release, 'The Triumph of Assimilation" is out!
"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
A little bit about myself:
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 40+ 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.
In 1990 along with banjo virtuoso Danny Barnes he formed the ground breaking Americana pioneers Bad Livers, ushering in a generation of alternative bluegrass and acoustic bands, many who name check the group as their greatest influence. In 2015, Rubin stepped out as a solo artist releasing "Southern Discomfort," following up with "Songs for the Hangman's Daughter" in 2017. His latest release "Triumph of Assimilation'' garnered rave reviews and debuted at #13 on the Billboard Bluegrass chart.
When querried, he describes his music as "Southern Americana from a Jewish POV. To me being a Jew means being socially conscious as well. And I like to think of myself working in the same vein as my fellow Okies Woody Guthrie and Will Rodgers." When it comes to his songwriting influences he name checks country hit maker Harlan Howard and the Polish-Yiddish poet Mordechai Gebertig; "I'll reckon I'm the only place where both those world reside in equal measure," he notes.
Today, he lives and works as a professional musician playing tenor banjo with the Panorama Jazz Band in New Orleans and makes a study of the musical traditions and cultures of South Louisiana. He continues to be a first call tuba and bassist in the Yiddish Klezmer community, performing nationally and internationally. He recently took a position at the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience where he jokes he's an exhibit.
Here's his Wiki page for more:
Mark plays a Fraulini Guitar.
Interested in the discussion?
Love to hear from you
Cary Baker, Conqueroo
The Oklahoman :
Americana Highways :
Mark Rubin ’s Jew Of Oklahoma Project ‘The Triumph Of Assimilation’ Addresses Anti-Semitism On The Rise"
What the Folk? Podcast :
Reviews of my recorded work
On "The Triumph of Assimilation"
No Depression : Mark Rubin Explores Uneasy Borders of Jewish Identity and Southern Culture:
"There’s no better distillation of Jewish American identity couched in Southern culture than a 30-minute yarn seesawing between humor, horror, and rage relating to the ways the region’s legendary hospitality clangs with Jewish custom. For most Jews, “hostility” is the likelier word. For Mark Rubin, the Jew of Oklahoma himself, the luxury of just being plain old exasperated is welcome by comparison. ...In the South, Jews are acknowledged merely as Jews. Rubin’s radical argument is that maybe they should be treated as people."
American Songwriter: Mark Rubin’s ‘Triumph of Assimilation‘ Offers Upbeat Attitude with Humor and Optimism
"Ultimately, The Triumph of Assimilation comes across as an affable affair, albeit one that often comes across with a decidedly tongue-in-cheek approach, an amiable offering that’s flush with good natured intent. Consider this a triumph indeed."
Tablet Magazine : The Sounds of Summer
"Rubin not only has superb musical chops, honed over decades, but he’s clearly been thinking deeply about everywhere he’s been and everything he’s played. Sick of being told that he’s not Jewish enough for Northerners and not Christian American enough for Southerners, The Triumph of Assimilation is a musical manifesto, an electric declaration of being exactly enough, to hell with the haters."
"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."
On "Songs for the Hangman's Daughter"
"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 (NOLA.) 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
"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
With Nefesh Mountian
at the Ashkenaz Festival, Toronto ONT, 9/3/22
"It's Burning" live at 6 String Ranch
Autin TX 12/2/2023
The Murder of Leo Frank
At Folk Alliance International Conference Showcase 2022. KC MO
Conversation and Perfomance with Discover Texas
at 6 String Ranch, Austin Texas 12/2/2022
It's Burning. Video by Danny Barnes