The fourteen-year-old four-piece combo — led by vocalist/songwriter Ruby Dee and guitarist Jorge Harada, and supported by Rick Watson on doghouse bass and Mike Smith on drums, with frequent guest artists onstage and in the studio — plays an Americana that encompasses Northwest alt-country, Texas honky-tonk, Bakersfield twang, Memphis rockabilly, Western swing and good old-fashioned rock ’n’ roll.
After nearly constant touring for the past fourteen years, including 1200-plus dates across America, Europe and Australia, songs from the band’s fourth album, MILES FROM HOME (Dionysus Records, June 2008; produced by Conrad Uno), still earn steady airplay, including “Cold Pines and Red Dirt,” which earned band front woman- lead vocalist and songwriter Ruby Dee- runner-up honors in Songwriter magazine’s 2007 competition. The album charted in at #86 on the AMA Top 100 for more than four weeks and #26 on the Texas Third Coast Music FAR Top 40. The “Round and Round” video, released in May 2009, earned great acclaim with its cameos of Seattle rockabilly musicians and famous musical neighborhoods.
“Blending snarling rockabilly with honky-tonk heartache, Ruby Dee and The Snakehandlers have crafted their best recorded set thus far,” said Blue Suede News of the album. “The heart of the 13-song set emanates from Dee’s original material which combines poetic expressionism and hillbilly sass. Aided by Jorge Harada’s top-flight guitar work — which alternates ballroom tenderness with rowdy roadhouse rock — she sounds like a Texas dance hall chanteuse visiting us from another era.”
With a reputation for high-energy shows that precedes them, Ruby Dee and The Snakehandlers deliver to capacity crowds in clubs, festivals and events, starting in the Pacific Northwest, where right off the bat, they were voted Best Band in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer People’s Picks 2005 & Best Signed Band in the People’s Picks 2006. The band’s first full-length CD, Uno-produced NORTH OF BAKERSFIELD, earned huge airplay in the United States, Europe and Australia, and charted repeatedly on the European Americana list.
The music has gotten a hold on audiences near and far: a combination of Ruby’s singing and songwriting, wrought from her childhood spent between the no-longer-wild foothills of Northern California and the long straight roads around Big Spring, Texas; her time escaping to South America, driving a truck, working Alaskan fishing boats and more …
And Gretch-endorsed guitarist Jorge Harada has poured heart and sweat all over his Tennessee Rose guitar in such bands as The Spitfires and rockabilly giants DRAGSTRIP 77.
Providing the rock-solid honky-tonk groove backing Ruby and Jorge are Dylan Cavaliere on doghouse bass and AJ Mancabelli on cathouse drums. Together, they have played six successful European tours and a rockin' Australian tour, as well as a variety of dates across the United States.
The band’s release LIVE FROM AUSTIN TEXAS came out in 2011 on both CD and vinyl, showcasing a few new songs and fans old favorites cranked up with that live jumpin’ sound for which the Snakehandlers are so well known. Songs from the CD charted for over 10 weeks on both the AMA and Third Coast Music charts and earned the band a Grammy consideration for Best Americana Album.
Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers released their fifth full-length project: ROCKABILLY PLAYGROUND, a children’s rockabilly and roots record. With songs about bullies, homework, nap-time, super best friends and more, the band is having a great time writing and playing, and loves sharing the CD with you. The CD charted at #15 on the FAR charts and #103 on the AMA charts, and was on the 56th Grammy Awards ballot for Best Children’s Album!
In 2016, Ruby was able to write and record the first songs she's been able to write (both lyrics and music) since her near-death accident eight years earlier that left her with a TBI. The resulting record LITTLE BLACK HEART on Catty Town Records is a rockin' album full of classic rockabilly, jump blues, and toe-tapping swing music. The album earned the band 8 Grammy nods in the 59th Grammy Awards primary ballot, as well as being named the #2 Rockabilly Record by the Roots Music Report, and charted at #83 in the top 100 AMA charts for over 7 weeks. As always, stay tuned!
“Risky — and perhaps just a bit risqué — Ruby Dee and The Snakehandlers conjure forth all sorts of visions of another time,” said Metro Santa Cruz after a California show. “Rooted firmly in the classic country and rockabilly tradition, the band is an authentic backdrop for lead singer Ruby Dee’s blend of Wanda Jackson sass and Patsy Cline pathos. The band holds it down with the insistence of a chugging train while Dee, a pinup heartbreaker of yesteryear with thoroughly modern attitude, commands the stage.”