Ruis, Hyssong jazz up Rock City

Dec 13, 2013
John Ruis, left, and Spike Hyssong

Rockland — Rock City Cafe's Velvet Lounge series will present John Ruis and Spike Hyssong Saturday, Dec. 21, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Rock City, 316 Main St.

Ruis, who hails from New York City, is a Broadway-trained musician. He has re-invented himself as a sound artist using conventional fretted instruments and sound synthesis to create sitar and Indonesian gamelan including metallophones, drums and gongs. To sample some of his music, visit his ReverbNation page.

Hyssong is a Rockland native who began playing stride piano in high school, inspired by such immortals as Fats Waller and Teddy Wilson. He attended Beal College in Bangor, where he became influenced by Dave Brubeck and Lennie Tristano and played with a jazz combo there and in the Portland area. In 1994, Hyssong formed his own trio. Feeling stymied as a pianist by the lack of rhythmically sophisticated and responsive bassists, he took up the bass himself in 1996. He has since played bass throughout Maine with many jazz groups including the Scott Davis Quartet, Maniacs Play Jazz, the Al Corey Big Band, the Bill Barnes Trio and the Lincoln Blake Trio; and has led several groups of his own.

Together, these two very talented musicians continue to entertain their growing following.  They play a wide assortment of songs from various jazz catalogs, with an occasional blues tune thrown in. Joining them will be Ben Smith, Maine percussionist for more than 20 years, playing traps, conga and cajon.

As usual, there is no cover charge; however, tipping the musicians is highly encouraged. For more information on this and other events happening at the coffeebar/cafe, call 594-4123.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or

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