In Their Words: Rosie Rebel Introduces Vic Ruggiero
This is the hardest review I’ve written. I’ve listened to this guy’s voice since I was a teenager. Hundreds and thousands of plays later, his music has never grown old to me, and still finds a place on repeat in my life. At some point along the way, he became my friend. He’s never been anything short of cool to me. Over the years, I’ve seen the lives he touches with his music, and that is why I’m writing this.
The guy I’m thinking of, is one hell of a character who goes by the name of Vic Ruggiero. Nobody quite knows how Vic arrived on planet Earth. Perhaps he hitched a ride to the Bronx with aliens, or maybe found inspiration from his past-life as a three legged cat. Whatever the case, I can say with great assurance that Victor Ruggiero was put here on Earth for no other reason than to make music! And for the last twenty or so years, he’s been Taking Care Of Business. These days, he has little time for anything other than making music. He’s constantly touring, and recording to share his music with you. You can catch some of these sweet sound waves on his new album entitled THIS, released by the good folks at Unison Records. If you’ve never had the pleasure of hearing Vic’s music, THIS album is a great place to start. It features some of his finest tunes, delivered with the Hi-fidelity love they deserve. Treat yourself to THIS, and there you will find your senses entertained with the character, charisma, honesty, and smooth deliverance of a well-lived poet. Before I tell you to buy this album, you should know I’ve already purchased it for myself, and have been listening to it a lot.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that people are captivated by Vic’s talent. If you see his band The Slackers play, you’ll always find a swaying crowd, singing along, usually begging for an encore by the end of the set. If you have it in you to push your way to the front, you’ll notice the hungriest of girls eating turkey legs, just begging to be noticed by The Slackers. And if that’s not hungry enough for you: I’ve seen a grown woman tackled by security multiple times while trying to sneak back stage. After shows, it’s not uncommon for someone to come up to Vic and say that they’ve flown in from another country to see his band play. Fans can purchase Vic memorabilia to express their love offerings, “I heart Vic!” But the boldest of fans have tattooed images of Vic on their bodies. While a part of me thinks that’s creepy, I shouldn’t forget that once upon a time, I was also a creepy kid who’s also been touched by this man’s music.
I’ve known Vic Ruggiero for more than 10 years. I could do the exact math and rupture my brain, but I fear that a combination of nostalgia and A.D.H.D. are just as deadly. When I was a teenager, I’d gaze upon a shirtless Tim Armstrong poster on my bedroom wall, while I listened to Vic Ruggiero’s voice on my stereo for his kick-ass tunes, charisma, character and voice.
I listened to Vic’s voice as a teenager, the way I obsessively listen to Leonard Cohen now. Curled up a little too close to the speaker, with the music so loud that it felt like Leonard Cohen was personally whispering me mystical secrets from inside a seashell. There in the music, I’d find crunchy nuggets of wisdom that I wouldn’t understand until I’m 50. Similarly, somewhere in my father’s attic in New Jersey, I listened to Vic’s voice on repeat for years at a clip, while my father yelled, “Turn that dope-addict music down!” I listened to Slackers’ songs like “Rude and Reckless” when I felt like a natural born badass, and songs like “Comeback Baby” while my boyfriends dumped me. In those years it really struck a lyrical chord with me, as I dreamt about living inside my own private love song.
And just when normal people would stop listening to the same songs on repeat, I’d copy Vic’s voice onto ancient artifacts like cassette tapes, where I could transport his voice inside my car. In those days, cars were magical machines that transported me and my friends to Slacker’s shows in cities like New York, Boston and Philly.
Then, I discovered Vic’s solo music! I was way more impressed the first time I saw him play his solo music. The man’s his own one-man-band! With a tambourine on one foot, he bangs the kick drum petal on the other, while walking the bass lines, in between guitar melodies, and singing. And when he’s not singing, he takes it away with a harmonica solo. Vic is the first musician, I’ve seen to pull off such a level of musical multi-tasking. I listened to many of his tunes featured on THIS album, over and over such as; “This,” “Neatly,” “Taking Care Of Business,” “Vacant Stare,” “Parking Lot,” and “If This Night.”
Vic Ruggiero is one of the great musicians, and singer-songwriters of our time. He’s not a snob, or pretentious about it. I’ve seen him play in front of thousands of people. I’ve seen him play on television. And I’ve seen him play in basements in front of a handful of people. It makes no difference to him where he is in the World, as long as he’s making music. I saw him play on Conan O’Brien with Rancid, and he was just as cool that day, as any other day I’ve seen him play. The same goes with recording. The man can record a tune in a van, or in a living room, or make the pilgrimage to the studio to make THIS. It’s a blessing to have greater quality versions of these songs that I already love. Thanks to the folks at Unison Records for delivering the attention these tunes deserve, so I can fall in love with them all over again. Just like other well produced records, I don’t have to blast my ear drums, or sit too close to the speaker to feel the music.
Finally, I’m very grateful to call this man my friend. I can’t cram decades of fun into this article, I’ll only tell you the things that mean the most to me. When I first started singing and writing music, I was super insecure. Vic came over my house, listened to my songs, and fleshed a few tunes out with me. He was the first one to encourage me to make music. If you can imagine what that felt like to have someone I looked up to encourage me, it was monumental. Sometimes all you need is someone to say, “Ey, you got something, keep going.” Just this year, Vic sat down and played with my band,Typhoid Rosie. The man’s cool like that. He even made a record with my Dad, and has since earned the well deserved nickname, “daddy stealer.” He was there on my wedding day. And he was there in my greatest hour of suffering, when me and my brothers buried our Mother. He sang a tune called, “Mommy” for our torn-out hearts. I listened to his song through my stages of grieving. His words gave my family great comfort when we needed them the most. Isn’t that the most beautiful part of music: The ability to take your life experiences, and use your talents to move others? My brother jokes that “Vic is his favorite sister.” The guy doesn’t have a minute in the World to be my friend, or anyone’s else’s. Every minute of his life belongs to sharing his music with the World.
I want to end on THIS. Here’s to the musical clarity, and an excellent production of this album. Here’s to the poet, the philosopher, to songs that stay with you, and to inspiration. The album deserves a full listening experience, with proper headphones from start to finish. THIS captures the human spirit of great loves lost, to nights that live forever, and the tragic beauty of fleeting mortal lives. When those who are called, spend their lives doing the one thing they were born to do, their work is sure to inspire, infect, and move a great number of people. I hope these folks reading this will buy THIS album, and thank me later.
Artist Name: Typhoid Rosie
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Band Members: Rosie Rebel, Patrick Meyer, Dean Wartell, Phil Wartell