Nashua band pens homage to city
For Ruby and the Groove members Ruby Shabazz, Bill “Fee” Feehan and Tom Bean, writing a song and recording a video for their Nashua community-inspired anthem, “Let the Music Play,” was a labor of love.
They even encouraged cameo appearances from Mayor Jim Donchess and Great American Downtown’s Paul Shea as well as the backdrop or backlot, if you look at it that way, which is Nashua.
The clip for “Let the Music Play,” is a YouTube sensation.
“The song is really about the community of Nashua and us playing out and the appreciation that we received,” Shabazz said. “We’re just showing the love back. It’s about having a good time, playing at bars, the after parties and just getting together with the band.”
The group said after rehearsals or a gig, they’d hang out on Main Street and between playing live or just chilling, they attracted quite a following. They do say, they were/weren’t surprised by the reception.
“No, not really,” Shabazz said. “We’re all good musicians and good at what we do. We thought people would like it. But the response we got, with people asking us to play out – that wasn’t expected. It’s been great. It was more than I expected.”
“We were more reacting, than having to go out and look for gigs,” Bean said. “People were reaching out to us.”
Feehan said as a band and a group, they wanted to do something different.
“Where I play the ‘cajon,’ which is a wooden box percussion instrument, Tom plays acoustic guitar and Ruby sings,” he said. “But we kind of do upbeat dance music and covers and originals, but its bare-boned.”
Added Shabazz, “We still fill up the sound and fill in a room. That’s what I think people respond to. That’s where the song came from. Kind of giving them what they wanted.”
At many points, Ruby and the Groove was playing out nearly every weekend. Now it varies, to once or twice a month.
“It sort of depends on how you look at it,” Shabazz said. “We’ve done a lot of festivals, and then we’ve done a lot of restaurants and bar gigs. We do end up playing a lot of places on Main Street. Like we play at Riverwalk, Stella Blu, we play at Margaritas and Rhum Bar and we did a special gig at the Odd Fellows building.”
“Even when we’re not playing, we go out and we see there are a lot of venues,” Feehan said. “I love it. It’s so great right now.”
Echoed Bean, “There are at least four or five places here. Every Thursday, Friday, Saturday night, there’s something going on.”
Feehan said there’s a good community in downtown Nashua right now and people are supporting live music.
“We started out when Ruby had a solo project,” he said. “We got together because Tom and I delivered pizza together. And then he said, ‘I play guitar.’ I said, ‘I play drums and write songs.’ So, we got together and hit it off and became good friends. We didn’t do much after that.”
“That was way back in the early ’90s,” Bean said.
Bean had relocated to California, and then returned to New Hampshire.
“Ruby started a project that I was producing,” Feehan said. “And she said, ‘I want to do a live element.’ So, we got together and the chemistry was so good, and we had such a good time, and from that first gig, we haven’t stop. I don’t know if that was supposed to be a one-time thing or we were just, ‘let’s see how it goes.’ But people kept asking us to do shows. That’s why we kind of embraced the community and said, ‘let’s write a song about it.’ The song was our appreciation for the community that made us.”
Bean admits that the first year was a bit of a ramp-up.
“Somebody asked if we could do a three-hour set,” he shared. “When we started, we only had six songs. We said, ‘well, we can play six songs 10 times in a row.’ So, we got on the treadmill and just started hitting it. I was over (at) their house every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday.”
Feehan said Bean was good about that, as he had a lot of live music experience.
“He would say, ‘once we learn it, it’s going to ease up,'” Feehan said.
The current trio is a conglomeration of the different groups that each member played in during their collective college years and since then.
“We had a group called ‘One Love,'” Shabazz said. “And they played together in a band years ago and Tom was in a band with Bill’s brother.”
“There was a lot of cross pollination,” joked Bean.
Shabazz said it was inevitable that the three would end up playing together and write their own material.
“Definitely,” Shabazz continued. “I write a lot. And these guys write and Bill produces. Tom comes up with guitar licks and melodies.”
“We probably have three albums worth of material,” Feehan said. “That’s one of our goals. Coming up, we’re going to record more.”
Shabazz said she loves coming up with songs and bouncing things off the guys.
“And Tom’s great at finding the right key, it’s a cohesive mix,” she said. “Some of the songs that I wrote originally was dance music and R&B. We definitely interpret those sounds a little differently live. But it brings a different element to it. It’s always interesting, it’s dynamic and it’s 3-D. It’s not just studio tracks or whatever. Which is also great creatively in production, because you can build off that. But the live element – there is something different to it and that’s what makes us different.”
Said Feehan, “It’s like an acoustic dance party. It’s definitely infectious.”