ACL Festival Spotlight – Ruby Jane

Ruby Jane

Since moving to Austin four years ago, Ruby Jane Smith has continued her meteoric rise onto the local and national music scene.  The sixteen-year-old singer and fiddle player has played and toured with a host of music legends such as Asleep at the Wheel and Willie Nelson, and she has put together a top notch band to pursue her solo efforts.  At the age of ten, she became the youngest fiddle player to ever be invited to play at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, and then went on to win the Mississippi State Fiddle Championship the same year.

2011 marked Ruby Jane’s fourth appearance at the Austin City Limits Festival, and she graced the Austin Ventures stage early on Sunday in front of an impressive and enthusiastic crowd.  She led the band through an absolutely blistering version of “Chameleon” (Herbie Hancock) and had the lucky viewers enthralled.  Several original songs followed, which showcased her songwriting and vocal talents while featuring some intense jamming between Smith and guitar player Trevor LaBonte.  Her music incorporates many different styles and influences, including jazz, blues, country, and rock.  “The band that I have now is primarily Rock & Roll,” she explains, “but with flavors of all the different things I’ve learned.”

She gushes about the members of her band and their talents.  “I say this all the time, but I really feel like this band is the band that I’ll have for a long time.”  LaBonte joined the band two years ago on guitar, and they have developed a great musical chemistry. “I think he’s probably the best guitar player I’ve ever heard, and that’s saying a lot,” she insists.  “Trevor is a genius, and I can’t believe that he’s in my band.  We play back and forth and trade licks.”  Bass player Kai Roach and drummer Colter Lutz are best friends who hold down the rhythm section and also have a tight musical connection. “They’ve played together so much, they know what each other is thinking.”

Ruby Jane loves living in Austin, although it was a cultural change after growing up in a small town in Mississippi. “It’s very, very different.  But I love it, and I love that it’s a music city.”  She met Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel soon after her arrival, and he introduced her to some other musical heroes. “Everyone since I first moved here has kind of welcomed me with open arms, and I really feel like it’s my hometown now.”  Lately she and the band have been touring a lot – they recently played the Lollapalooza Festival in Chicago and traveled around the Midwest before returning home to play the ACL Festival.  She plans to go into the studio in the near future to work on her next recording, with a lot more touring along the way.  If we’re fortunate, those future travel plans will include more appearances at Austin City Limits.


  1. Ruby Jane is going to tilt the music world on it’s axis when she breaks big! As one who was lucky enough to catch her playing live when she passed through Iowa on her way to Lollapalooza, I can testify that even the most blazing, incendiary video performance you’ll find pales compared to Ruby Jane live!
    She’ll have established performers from many genres eager to collb someday soon!

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