Fiddler Faces Setback

Young Austin musician, Ruby Jane, carjacked at gunpoint in Houston, benefit planned

Young Austin musician, Ruby Jane, carjacked at gunpoint in Houston, benefit planned

Austin Photo Set: News_Meredith Rainey_Ruby Jane_September 2011_performing
Photo by Evans Caglage
Austin Photo Set: News_Meredith Rainey_Ruby Jane_September 2011_portrait
Photo by Matt Lankes
Austin Photo Set: News_Meredith Rainey_Ruby Jane_September 2011_performing2
Photo by JoBelle Smith
Austin Photo Set: News_Meredith Rainey_Ruby Jane_September 2011_performing
Austin Photo Set: News_Meredith Rainey_Ruby Jane_September 2011_portrait
Austin Photo Set: News_Meredith Rainey_Ruby Jane_September 2011_fiddle
Austin Photo Set: News_Meredith Rainey_Ruby Jane_September 2011_performing2

There are few things more valuable to a musician than their instruments, let alone their lives. Back in September, Ruby Jane Smith was on top of the world, playing the Austin City Limits Music Festival for the fourth time. Since then, the 17 year-old fiddler and her mom JoBelle have been trying to raise money for her to record a new CD of her own material, through a creative funding program called Kickstarter.

Last Thursday, the two suffered a major setback, after being robbed at gunpoint after a gig in Houston. Fortunately they were not harmed but JoBelle’s SUV was stolen, with tens of thousands of dollars worth of instruments and equipment in the back that Ruby Jane relies on for her music career, including a guitar and her custom made violin and mandolin. The guitar was recovered after being found outside a dumpster. On Sunday, JoBelle asked for help on Facebook, looking for people to go with her to Houston to search pawnshops and dumpsters for the other stolen instruments.  

Ruby Jane and her mom have called Austin home for years, and the community is rallying around them in the wake of the carjacking. To show their support, some musicians and friends have organized a benefit for them, while the authorities continue to look for the stolen items. The benefit is this Saturday December 17, from 7-10 p.m. at Victory Grill.   

The Smiths are asking people to keep an eye out at pawnshops for the missing instruments. A list of the main items stolen, with pictures, can be found in this article on www.savingcountrymusic.com.  

Click here if you’d like more information about Ruby Jane’s Kickstarter campaign or want to donate. The goal is to raise $10,000 to help pay for studio time, a producer, musicians, manufacturing, distribution and publicity.

I know the young lady — who told me back in the fall, “I’m just along for the ride and will continue to work hard and continue to build my music and build my career" — will overcome this setback and won’t let it dampen her enthusiasm for that ride.    

To learn more about Ruby Jane Smith, you can check out the interview CultureMap did with her the week before her performance at the Austin City Limits Music Festival.