Let the Music Play
Nashua Band Ruby & The Groove Bring Positive Vibes to the Gate City
Looking for a band with feel-good tunes and positive vibes? The up-and-coming trio Ruby & The Groove, which formed in 2018, fits the bill. The band consists of three veteran musical artists: Ruby Shabazz, the lead vocalist, is originally from Boston and now lives in Nashua; percussionist Bill Fee is a Lowell native; and rhythm guitarist Tom Bean was born in Nashua.
The three were friends before they became a band and performed in their first official gig at the 2018 Nu Muse Festival in Nashua. Shabazz and Fee met in college at UMass Lowell and have been a loving couple for two decades. Fee and Bean have known each other for just as long. Shabazz and Bean only met a few years ago, but say it feels like they’ve known each other forever.
“We always say that we were all doing separate things, but for some reason, when the cosmos aligned, it just exploded,” Fee says. “We’re not the best classically trained musicians, [but] we have chemistry.”
The band originally formed to help Shabazz promote her solo dance music projects. She wanted a live musical element at the release party for her first solo musical project, and Fee and Bean were there to help. It was intended to be a one-time gig, but they won the audience over.
Since their debut, the band has played at many bars, restaurants and festivals throughout the Merrimack Valley, with Riverwalk Cafe & Music Bar in Nashua and Mill No. 5 in Lowell among their favorite venues. For these three friends, the thrill of performing comes from the enthusiasm of the audience. “The crowd really responds to the three-dimensional live element of listening,” Shabazz says. “It’s poppin’, it’s dance music, but we do it with acoustic bare-bone instruments that still drive the beat and get people moving.”
Each member of Ruby & The Groove holds a special appreciation for the city of Nashua, and they are often found performing at popular restaurants there, including Rhum and Stella Blu. In fact, the band’s first original song, “Let the Music Play,” is an acknowledgment of the embrace it’s felt from the Nashua music scene.
“That was a tribute to the community,” Shabazz says. “It was putting into words and song our experience playing out here, up and down Main Street in Nashua — the response that we get from the audience, practicing for our gigs, performing out for the patrons of Nashua, hanging out afterwards with people, hitting the different bars and breweries.”
“We said you know what, people are showing us love, let’s show the love back, and that’s why we did that song,” Bean adds. “We want to show even more love back and [eventually] align with a charity or an organization … to give back to the community that’s been great to us.”
Ruby & The Groove make it a point to mingle with the audience after performances. “We have to get out, and we like getting out and enjoy meeting people,” Shabazz says.
There’s no doubt that 2020 has been a tumultuous year, but Ruby & The Groove plan to persevere, even as their opportunities to perform have temporarily evaporated. The band is recording new music, has scheduled radio shows, and is continuing to impact the community by working with adults with developmental disabilities and voicing strong support for an art center in Nashua.
What is it about Nashua, and the Merrimack Valley, that is so special to Ruby & The Groove?
“It’s home,” Shabazz says. “They say if you can’t make it at home, you can’t make it anywhere. We wanted to build something here.”
Ruby and Bill of Ruby & The Groove recently performed live on The 495 podcast. Listen on Facebook every Wednesday @12:30. Episodes available at: mvmag.net/podcasts or subscribe through your favorite podcast service.