Mulebone is a musical partnership comprised of multi-instrumentalist, John Ragusa and roots music specialist, Hugh Pool. The grist for their mill is traditional blues. Together Mulebone has recorded 4 critically lauded CDs and achieved AMA Top 100 with all but 1. Their latest offering “Keep on Movin” earned the distinction of being the only independent release in the AMA Top 40 for 5 weeks in 2015. Along with playing live and TV appearances, they won blues artist of the year at radio stations from Seattle, Washington to Red Bank, New Jersey and Hugh Pool was inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame in 2016. Any given week may find them playing clubs in NYC or entertaining at private parties thrown by David Rockefeller, Bruce Wasserstein and list of other East Coast residents who are enthusiastic about bringing these boys in for a party by road, sea or air.
John Ragusa can play anything he can put his lips on…wait a minute….did I say that out loud? In Mulebone, John plays, conch shell, Jews harp, cornet, all manner of flutes, tin whistle, and chimes in on the harmony vocals. He is member of Beth Nielsen Chapman’s group as well as his own John Ragusa outfit, and plays regularly in conjunction with Deepak Chopra’s speaking engagements. Amongst dozens of studio credits are contemporary jazz greats Joe Taylor, Jeremy Wall and world music icon Tom Ze.
Hugh says, “One time we were in Lexington, Kentucky sitting at an outdoor cafe and John played me a bunch of melodies sliding a straw up and down in a cup of ice water”…you get the drift. Hugh plays guitars, harmonica, boot board and sings, all with a mouth full of whiskey and a giant heart. He has played his brand of blues in clubs and at festivals from Jakarta, Indonesia to North Cape, Norway; From Vienna, Austria to Ottawa, Ontario and has been critically lauded by The New York Times, New York Press, The Village Voice, Pittsburgh Press, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Blues Revue Magazine…the list goes on. He is also a noted recordist and producer who has worked on hundreds of records at his Williamsburg, Brooklyn studio, Excello Recording including sessions with Taj Mahal, Debbie Harry, Marshall Crenshaw and even Molly Ringwald.
Together in Mulebone, Hugh and John play slide guitar boogies, 1 chord trance riffs a la Howlin Wolf the uptempo rags of Reverend Gary Davis and country blues of all shapes and colors. Sometimes they play close to the source, almost as if tracing the image, and at other moments, they re-examine the source, float above it, take a new look as one understanding their home from a distant land.