Joe Rut was born, and then later started playing guitar, writing songs, and eating donuts. He realizes that the donuts are killing him. In a nod to his eclecticism, his fans have compared him to influences as disparate as Todd Snider, They Might Be Giants, The Grateful Dead, Frank Zappa, and Ween. His live shows have earned him a cult status, among those in-the-know, as a crafty guitarist and a clever songwriter who disarms the listener with humor while airing weightier fare.
Joe has headlined at San Francisco's Great American Music Hall and in his various bands he has played at England's Glastonbury Music Festival, San Francisco's famed Fillmore (opening for Richard Thompson), the second stages at Shoreline and Sleep Train Amphitheaters (opening for Alabama), Nevada's Burning Man Festival, and Santa Cruz's Y2K Live Looping Festival. Of all these gigs, the only one that had a good donut was the Glastonbury Music Festival. The Brits know how to make a donut.
Joe's song "Dosey Doe" was voted #1 song on SomaFMs Bootliquor radio by listeners in September 2010, and his music ("Control Freak") has been featured on NPR’s Undercurrents. His song "Jelly Donut" inspired a feature about food-based songs in the San Francisco Chronicle, and he has appeared in Guitar Player Magazine. Joe's Dante-esque epic tragi-comedy, "The Horse I Rode In On" won "Best Song" in West Coast Songwriter's Open Mic in June 2009. He was recently honored in Berkeley by a Joe Rut Cover Night, in which local artists took turns playing his songs.
Joe pays homage to American roots music (he was a founding member of twang-harmony band Loretta Lynch), but he reaches for the tips of new branches too, with an experimentalism that has landed him, for instance, in a headlining slot at the 2006 Boise Experimental Music Festival (in his guitar-centric duo Lumper/Splitter with musical foil Lucio Menegon). Joe has played guitar in many San Francisco Bay Area bands including The Spikedrivers, 86, Okie, The Verms, and with Henry Kaiser.
Though Joe’s music is American, nobody seems to be guarding the borders too closely.