by Jeff Hahne
Marshall Ruffin Trio w/ Matt Gilmore, Wasted Wine
July 16, 2008
The Deal: Trio of Southeastern acts, all finalists in the Crowntown Showdown, hit the small stage for night of great music.
The Good: South Carolina's Wasted Wine opened the night with a 40-minute set of their unique brand of aged music. Charlotte's Matt Gilmore drew an audience of more than 50 as he showcased songs from his upcoming album, due for release in the next month or so, during his own 40-minute set. He's a good songwriter with solid vocals that are in the same range as local favorite, Joshua Panda. He may be young, but he's well on his way to bigger stages. The first time I caught him, he was playing solo on acoustic guitar. This time around, he had a drummer and bass player that gave depth to his sound. The female vocals gave good harmony to his voice. Hopefully, he'll remain on the Charlotte scene for a while. Georgia's Marshall Ruffin had the judges in awe at the first Showdown and he was just as good in a trio. The addition of a stand-up bass and drums complimented the incredibly talented Ruffin's guitar playing and voice. Ruffin opened with a cover of "Johnny B. Goode" so different from the original, that unless you knew the words, you wouldn't have caught that it was a cover. He's got power and soul in his vocals and more guitar talent than many I see or hear these days. While, at times, the drums overpowered Ruffin's playing during his one-hour set, the trio showed they've got incredible skills on their instruments. A back-and-forth jam between all three members on their final song was enough to make jaws drop. Sure, all three acts were a little rough around the edges, but all three also showed solid songwriting and musical talent. I wouldn't be surprised if all draw bigger crowds in the near future.
The Bad: Whoever makes the strings Ruffin brought with him when a string broke, Ruffin showed class as he tried to replace it, despite it having a knot. He kept singing and the show kept going until it was fixed. It was extremely disappointing to see so many of the (mostly young) crowd leave after Gilmore. While many were in attendance to support their friend, few gave Ruffin a chance. Those who did, stayed for the duration.
The Verdict: A great showcase of up-and-coming talent from around the region and right here in the Q.C. All three acts would be worth checking out on their own, but seeing them all in one place, on one night was more than worth the $5 admission.