Mark Rubin (musician)

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Mark Rubin

Mark Rubin is an American songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist who played upright bass and tuba in the Austin, Texas-based band the Bad Livers,[1] as well as the Dallas-based band Killbilly.[2]

Early life[edit]

Rubin was born in Stillwater, Oklahoma[2] and grew up in Norman, Oklahoma.[3] He first arrived in Austin on August 28, 1987.[4] As of 2014 he lives and works in New Orleans.

Musical career[edit]


Rubin joined the rock-bluegrass band Killbilly, which formed in the late 1980s,[5] due to his re-emerging interest in bluegrass music.[6] It was after he joined Killbilly that Rubin met Danny Barnes, who, at the time, had just joined the band as its banjo player.[6]

Texas Folklife[edit]

In 1990, upon learning of the death of San Antonio based legendary accordionist Santiago Jimenez, Jr.'s bassist Juan Viesca, Rubin became his full time string bassist, mastering the old fashioned hispanic "tololoche'" slap style. In 1991 he arranged a 3 record A&R deal for Jimenez, Jr. on the Austin TX based Watermelon Records label. The first "Corason de Piedra" garnered a Grammy Nomination.

In 1992, Rubin began working with Eastern European immigrant musicians from in and around the Houston area from the Polish and Czech speaking communities. Rubin produced or appears on releases for Texas-Polish dance band fiddler Brian Marshall and his Texas Slavic Playboys and Texas-Czech Accordionist Mark Halata and Texavia, appearing with both groups on the National Council of Traditional Arts touring roster for over two decades.

Rubin as a bassist is featured at the annual Festival of Texas Fiddling, as its founder noted the festival was "based on his fieldwork."

Bad Livers[edit]

The Bad Livers formed in 1990 and effectively shuttered in 2000.[3] The band has reformed and played performance at Pickathon (2007) and the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. (2008.) As of 1999, Rubin was, according to Andy Langer, the band's "bassist, co-manager, and goodwill ambassador".[6]

Post-Bad Livers career[edit]

In 2013, Rubin, along with Sean Orr, released the album "Texas Fiddle, Okie Guitar".[7]

In 2015, Rubin released a solo album, "Southern Discomfort", which contains nine original songs and three covers.[4]

In 2017 he release his first truly "solo" effort, "Songs for the Hangman's Daughter," recording 11 original compositions accompanied by either guitar, banjo or mandolin. Rubin explores themes centered around the duality of being a Jewish identified Southern Musician and tours solo across the US and Canada.[8]

Rubin was featured along with three other principals in German documentary film "Der Zerbrochene Klang" ("The Broken Sound") about his participation in the Other Europeans Project; a collective of Jewish and Rroma musicians from 9 different countries.[9] As of April 2014, Rubin lives and works in New Orleans, Louisiana as a freelance musician, writer and cultural critic.[10] He is currently penning his memoir.


  • (with Sean Orr) Texas Fiddle, Okie Guitar (Rubinchik Recordings, 2013)
  • Southern Discomfort (Independent, 2015)
  • Songs For The Hangman’s Daughter (Independent, 2017)


  1. ^ Azerrad, Michael. "Bad Livers". Trouser Press. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
  2. ^ a b Friedman, Josh Alan (27 August 2009). "Mark Rubin Schleps His Instruments Across The World in the Name of Klezmer". Dallas Observer. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
  3. ^ a b DuShane, Tony (19 March 2009). "The Bad Livers: Old-time hip, not hippie". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
  4. ^ a b Hernandez, Raoul (2 June 2015). "Papa Mali Extols Mark Rubin". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
  5. ^ Cuellar, Catherine. "Killbilly Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Langer, Andy (5 November 1999). "Against the Grain". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
  7. ^ Stegall, Tim (2014-08-15). "Sean Orr & Mark Rubin". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2018-10-23.
  8. ^ "Mark Rubin, Jew of Oklahoma, "Songs for the Hangman's Daughter" (Album Review)". OffBeat Magazine. Retrieved 2018-10-23.
  9. ^ "The Other Europeans in: DER ZERBROCHENE KLANG". Retrieved 2016-02-23.
  10. ^ Rubin, Mark. "Artists homepage".

External links[edit]