By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
By Karli Evans
By Jose D. Duran
By Pablo Chacon Alvarez
While lyrically fusing the activist-artist model of feminist folk-rockers such as Ani DiFranco with the cuter, hornier ramblings of indies such as Kimya Dawson, Sol Ruiz's upbeat, sunny music and sassy jazz vocals ultimately recall another coy South Florida strummer — Rachel Goodrich. Just Cuban and pissed.
Recently, Ruiz even took her act to the island. "Playing in Cuba was more than just a gig," the postcolonial and quirky acoustic songstress says. "It was spiritual. It brought meaning to my existence." And in keeping with her passion for performing music in the ancestral homeland she had long been barred from visiting, everything Ruiz does — play guitar, sing, or expound on the sociopolitical themes that inspire her music — is executed with forceful vigor.
Of course, bleeding hearts can be hard to patch. And sometimes it's difficult to hold back the overflow. "I sang in one of [Cuba's] clubs: 'Yo quiero toda mi gente, free. Yo quiero mi Cuba, free,'" Ruiz proudly recalls. "I think that maybe I could have gotten in trouble. But I was willing to risk that."
Luckily, though, Ruiz wasn't thrown into a secret prison, and she has returned to Miami to record her first album since 2009's Outlander. And like many musicians trying to hack out a living in the contemporary entertainment industry, this Cuban blues muse has launched an online Kickstarter campaign to help fund the release. She'll also host an album fundraiser this Friday at PAX on the outskirts of Little Havana. So join la gente, donate a few dollars, and help support Ruiz's mission.