Gino Ruberto

 

If Gino Ruberto looks like he is having the time of his life onstage, it’s because he IS! When folks come out to see Gino perform, it's always a unique musical experience, covering the emotional spectrum, and paced to send you home smiling.

 

Gino was born in Wabasha, Minnesota, and raised in the neighboring small town of Lake City. Being the son of a highly respected choral music instructor, he’s been singing since before he could talk. Performing music has been Gino’s lifetime aspiration since the age of four, when he first sang “O Sole Mio” (in Italian) for relatives at a family gathering. From the moment he heard the enthusiastic applause that followed his performance, he was hooked for life and has been singing ever since.

 

Playing piano since age six, Gino started writing his own songs in elementary school, and throughout high school, his songwriting skills matured considerably. During his senior year, he entered a talent contest hosted by The Ellis Street Singers at Mankato State University. He performed a story ballad he wrote when he was seventeen called, Harley Man and ended up winning the “Outstanding Male Vocalist of the Year” award.

 

After high school, Gino attended the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire for two years, focusing on music composition, creative writing, theater, and every bar on Water Street.

 

At age 20, Gino made his big move to Hollywood, California and attended Studio City’sDick Grove School of Music,” where he graduated at the top of his class from their “Sound Engineering and Record Production” program.

 

During his time in Los Angeles, Gino also spent several years as lead singer and songwriter for the Hollywood-based rock band, RESCUE. After just three months as their front man, RESCUE entered and won “The 1986 Los Angeles Battle of the Bands” competition at Devonshire Downs. The quality and marketability of their original material earned them that honor, because a strong identifiable image for the band just wasn't there yet. Unfortunately, it was the late 1980’s, and RESCUE simply could not “out-glam” the growing stable of Sunset Boulevard bands, routinely long on hair and make-up, but often appallingly short on talent. RESCUE had to watch from the sidelines as bands they beat landed major label record deals, and eventually folded in heartbreak.

 

After RESCUE disbanded, Gino moved back to Minnesota, where he performed his originals at as many “Open Stage” nights in the Twin Cities as possible. During this time, he entered a month-long songwriter competition at THE FINE LINE MUSIC CAFÉ in Minneapolis, and won the award for “BEST SONGWRITER” with an intense performance of his dark story-ballad, Property For Sale.

 

Having lost faith in the music industry’s ability to recognize his talent, Gino sought out other careers that might utilize his unique abilities. He entered a competition for a full-ride scholarship to Brown Institute in Minneapolis, awarded annually by “The Upper Midwest Communications Conclave” to the year’s two most promising prospects for Brown’s “Radio and TV Broadcasting” program. He ended up winning the scholarship, and completed the program as one of that year’s only two “summa cum laude” 4.0 G.P.A. graduates.

 

In 1995, Gino landed his dream gig as “Morning Show Co-Host and Producer” at Minneapolis country giant, K102-FM. Teamed up with Twin Cities’ broadcast veterans John Hines and Pam Lewis, Gino’s chief responsibility was writing and performing song parodies. It was not exactly what his original dreams of a career in the music business called for, but it is what finally got his music played on large market radio. Gino was determined to make an impact and wasted no time. After just three months at K102, he wrote and performed a parody of the Shania Twain chart-topper, “Any Man of Mine,” aptly titled Any Gal of Mine. By word of mouth alone, (and a big push by “After Midnite” radio host, Blair Garner) “Any Gal of Mine” landed on Billboard’s “Country Hot-100” chart at #56. It remained in their “Hot-100” for nearly three months.

 

Later that year, Gino produced K102’s very first end-of-the-year, “Best of the K102 Morning Show” CD. It featured “Any Gal of Mine,” as well as many other Gino-penned comedy bits and song parodies. The Twin Cities’ 1995 holiday sales figures ranked the CD #1, outselling new releases by Garth Brooks, The Beatles, Jeff Foxworthy, and other nationally known artists who were stocked in 1,100 stores locally. Only 24 stores were selling the "K102 MORNING SHOW" CD!

 

Gino’s efforts brought in over $80,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis that year. K102 Program Director, Gregg Swedberg, asked Gino to write and perform a song for K102’s “Country Cares for St. Jude Kids” radiothons. He wrote an emotionally charged ballad simply titled, Brave. It struck a chord with representatives from St. Jude, and they added it to their collection of special radiothon “musical vignettes,” (special radiothon edits of some of country music’s most poignant songs that are interlaced with touching St. Jude patient stories.) Country music fans have now heard the song “BRAVE” at “Country Cares for St. Jude Kids” radiothons across the nation.

 

Before leaving K102 in 2000 to focus on his music, the five “Best of the K102 Morning Show” CD’s that Gino produced and performed on had generated nearly a quarter of a MILLION dollars for the St. Jude charity.

 

Another one of Gino’s K102 related career highlights came in May of 1996 at K102’s “Spring Bash,” when he opened for Toby Keith and Joe Diffie at Target Center. Backed by Twin Cities country powerhouse, The Killer Hayseeds, Gino put on a comical performance of his most-requested K102 song parodies that earned him (and “The Seeds”) a standing ovation that night. Later that year K102 chose Gino (again, backed by “The Seeds”) to be one of their featured artists at the big end-of-summer “FAN JAM!” music festival.

 

Gino’s self-titled debut CD on Jeriston Records earned some national accolades when its single, "Fifteen Country Songs" was aired on Blair Garner’s nationally syndicated country radio program “AFTER MIDNITE” during the “Pick-It or Flick-It” call-in segment. This is where country music fans across the nation have the opportunity to voice their opinions about each night’s new “Pick-It or Flick-It” song. 70% of country music fans polled nationwide that night PICKED “Fifteen Country Songs” to be a HIT SONG for Gino!

 

Gino Ruberto was one of the only country music artists in the Twin Cities whose singles consistently got large market airplay on Minnesota’s top country station, K102, where local country music fans voted his single, "Heavy Metal" as one of “The Top 102 Songs of 2001!”

 

Showcasing his vocal chops and showmanship skills, Gino has packed the TOP country music clubs in the Twin Cities, and rediscovered the joys of performing LIVE music!

"But, just like everything else, those crazy dreams kinda came and went..." -John Mellencamp

*UPDATE: In late 2007, Gino's lifelong dream of someday becoming a bartender at a small town VFW came true. Not a particularly fast bartender, but certainly a kind-hearted, hard-working bartender. So, what the hell. Cheers!



*Also worth noting, Gino once stuffed fifty-eight pieces of Super-Bubble into his mouth,
then attempted to sing, “SOLD” by John Michael Montgomery.

 

It wasn’t very good…

 


Q & A

Hey Gino! Who’s your favorite local artist?

Pamela is just too cool for words. The songs she writes are intense, heartwrenching and beautiful. Her CD’s have all been powerful, cohesive, emotionally driven, and thoughtful. Then we have Pamela’s live performances... HOLY SMOKES THIS WOMAN TOTALLY ROCKS! Her entire band is phenomenal! You MUST see Pamela LIVE! (Go to her website and check out some of her music!)

http://www.myspace.com/pamelamcneillmusic/

 

*Other noteworthy local favorites: The Killer Hayseeds and Johnny Holm are two local acts for whom I have tremendous respect. No matter when or where I have seen these people through the years, they have always delivered a polished, entertaining, and extremely professional show. (They make it look effortless, but believe me, assembling a compatible group of top-notch musicians with a shared artistic vision and sense of brotherhood, who also happen to be: responsible, loyal, chemically stable, and non-assholes…well, it dang near takes an act of God!) I am astounded by the longevity of these bands, and by the discipline that they must summon in order to continue delivering the kinds of polished and impassioned performances that these people offer up night after night and year after year with unswerving consistency.  

 

Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
Springsteen, Eagles, Beatles, Bob Dylan, Bob Seger, Jackson Browne, Travis Tritt

 

All-time favorite album?

BORN TO RUN by Bruce Springsteen: This album made me want to become a songwriter and changed the course of my life forever. I was sixteen when I first heard it, and it still holds up from start to finish for me today. This album could bring me out of a coma.

 

*Honorable mention: The Beatles’ ABBEY ROAD: Their creativity, musicianship and remarkable songwriting broke through all kinds of previously impervious barriers, and blew away one of rock music’s most vocal critics…my Dad! ABBEY ROAD is the only rock album that my Dad (Opera Man) ever pushed on my brothers and me. It is one of those truly inspired masterpieces!

 

Some more of my favorite bands and solo artists

Dixie Chicks, Tom Waits, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny Cash, Rush, Mozart, The Doors, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Willie Nelson, Joss Stone, Sheryl Crow, Beck, Pete Townsend, Merle Haggard, Journey (the Steve Perry years), Jimmy Buffett, Timberline, Chopin, Rickie Lee Jones, Ray Charles, R.E.M., Roy Orbison, Frank Sinatra, Ani DiFranco, Allman Brothers, Matraca Berg, The Doobie Brothers, Steve Earle, Police, Gordo Sumner, Foo Fighters, Franco Corelli, Paul Simon, Aerosmith (70’s era: “Toys in the Attic” “Rocks”), Tom Petty, Van Halen (The Dave years), Lou Gramm, James Taylor, Squeeze, Harry Chapin, Eminem, James McMurtry, Patty Griffin, Nanci Griffith, The Who, The Guess Who, Kansas (Steve Walsh era), Billy Joel (His 70’s era pre “Glass Houses” piano & vocal gems), Led Zeppelin, Beach Boys, U2, Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Neil Young, Queen, Fleetwood-Mac, Marvin Gaye, and of course, Perry Como...