Candles burn as the coffee resting in a large blue mug grows cold. The quiet strumming of an acoustic guitar and low, soulful voice of a man making music are the only sounds in the room. A pen and paper sit next to the coffee mug, “on-the-time-clock” and earning their keep as they actively record the words as they leave this musician’s mouth. Marcus Ruggiero is at home and at peace, doing what he does best and loves nearly most of all, composing and singing.
Today he is creating a song for a beautiful little girl orphaned and burned in a fire. Yesterday it was the homeless man whose image lies within the gears of his brain, stuck there until he releases it into song. Tomorrow he could be writing about the magic of a woman’s touch— writing, writing, always writing.
A self-taught musician, Marcus Ruggiero has achieved a certain amount of success in the AAA realm, singing, playing, and composing lyrics and music about what he knows best— every day life in small town America. His music is fueled by internal conflict and relationship struggles and tough topics such as the plight of the homeless, teen suicide, break-ups, and gratitude. It is both joyous and mournful, rolling with Ruggiero’s own emotions and experiences.
His single, “Catch My World, It’s Falling,” which he wrote for the independent movie, The New Weapon, has been nominated for a LAIFF award and Winner of best song at L.A. CINEFEST. Marcus’ sound has been compared to the likeness of Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Vedder. He has played with such nationally renowned musicians as members of The Marshall Tucker Band, Dangerous Dan Toler, artist Dave Mason, Lowen & Navarro and The Allman Brother’s Band. He has opened for Mary Lambert, AAA group Dishwalla, the English rock band Foghat, and Canadian rock group Loverboy. Today He performs all over the Capital Region, and is in the process of releasing his third album. His instruments include guitar, the harmonica and piano.
Ruggiero grew up in Schenectady, NY, amidst a family of musicians. His mother, Angelina Crevier, was a singer who performed in local clubs and in her later years for the pope at the Vatican. His brother-in-law, whom Ruggiero lived with on and off throughout his childhood, was a performance artist. One of eleven children, Ruggiero listened to and was influenced by the Motown music his brothers and sisters brought home.
Though there are many, Richie Havens is one of Ruggiero’s biggest musical influences. He has vivid memories of the intense reaction he experienced when listening to Havens’ soulful voice on the radio at the tender age of six.
At the age of seven, Ruggiero taught himself to play piano. By time he was ten years old, he was spending most of his free time playing the baby grand at the local deli. He fervently and continually studied the lyrics of such great songwriters as Elton John and Bernie Taupin.
As a teenager, Ruggiero picked up a guitar and taught himself to play. He and a friend entertained at parties, playing and singing music written by Ruggiero himself.
Ruggiero moved to Nashville during his early 20’s, where he worked at The Grand ‘Ole Opry. While there, he wrote music and soaked in the culture that has always been part of his passion.
Boston became home for a short time, where Ruggiero continued composing music.
Shortly after he moved back to New York, while still in his 20’s, and the exact year CDs were released, Ruggiero scored his first record contract. He spent much of this time period living about and recording in The Neverland Music Studio in Amsterdam. The two records he created there have yet to be released.
In 1996, while living in Saratoga, Ruggiero released his debut album, Another Cold Day in June, under the production of Tony Perrino. This contemplative album details short stories from Ruggiero’s childhood in Schenectady, New York, inviting both tears and smiles from listeners. Radio stations across New York and New Jersey played such popular hits as the title cut “Another Cold Day in June” from this favorably-reviewed album.
Ruggiero’s second album hit the stores in 2000. Shed some light could be heard on top-40 and Americana radio stations across the country. Under the production of Scottie McPherson and Tony Perrino, Ruggiero collaborated with Tommy Byrnes, Billy Joel’s band director; and Mindy Jostyn from John Mellencamp’s band to create this popular album.
In 2002, our country reeling from the attacks on 9-11, Ruggiero’s focus temporarily shifted to our brave soldiers. He wrote an anthem dedicated to and about the troops and their struggle in Iraq. American Freedom was aired on Armed Forces Radio around the world. Upon request and to a standing ovation, he performed it live in front of 45-thousand people at a football stadium in West Virginia.
Personal struggles inspired Ruggiero to compose and begin recording the album, American Cars, accompanied by Tony Perrino. The Album’s title is based on its’ patriotic and Americana-like feel and the challenge of falling short of the American dream. Ruggiero’s “Cars” is a metaphor for the American family. Both are ever-changing, each can be traded-in for brand new, shiny versions. Because of its hopeful but dark and heavy nature, chronicling such tragedies as divorce and 9-11, Ruggiero placed this project on hold to make way for the creation of a more upbeat sound, which he believes his heart and soul are longing for at this moment.
Enter Ruggiero’s soon-to-be released and more uplifting album, for which he is still in the process of capturing a title, and which bears a complete turn-around in sound. Fans will recognize such catchy songs as “My Oasis” and the wildly popular “Song of Gratitude,” which can currently be heard when Ruggiero performs live.
The musician OG Kush is also collaborating and performing on this album, adding his own signature meditative, peaceful sound and including play of a very rare instrument called the hang. Ruggiero himself is writing, producing and arranging the album.
The album culminates in what Ruggiero describes as a euphoria of happiness and meditation. In his own words, he describes the outstanding message and feel of this piece of artistry:
“Basically, if you’re looking to love somebody, you need to find the love in yourself first and pass that on. It’s really not about can’t, but about what you can do. I truly believe you can control where your head is at. I clearly have done that by pausing “American Cars,” because really, I couldn’t take any more of that song writing.”
This more uplifting album is currently being recorded at the Fight Klub studio in Manhattan, Ruggiero expects to finalize and release it sometime in 2016. He plans to pick up where he left off with American Cars in the near future.
During the recording of Ruggiero’s third album, he was asked to write the theme song for The Independent movie about cyber bullying and teen suicide, The New Weapon, by writer director Michalina Scorzelli. Ruggiero performed “Catch My World It’s Falling” with his then twelve-year old daughter, Aylaray. It has been nominated for the prestigious LAIFF award and Winner best song in L.A.Cinefest.
You can hear Ruggiero live at any number of venues across the Capital Region as a solo artist, with percussionist Ed Kinum or OG Kush, or with his band “M & The Tornadoes" In which he is currently in rehearsals with, for yet another incredible powerful LP Recording of brand new tracks , built for live performaces" .” His ever-growing list of albums, singles, and music videos, including “Sweet” and “Trapped in Her Garden,” are available for sale on his website, WWW.MARCUSLIVE.COM.
Ruggiero currently calls Saratoga home, where he lives with the youngest of his three beautiful and talented daughters and their cat, France. He is the proud grandfather of three. It is a home filled with love, creativity and music… a lifestyle that become his career. Though Marcus says he would never change it, he certainly didn’t choose this career path. It persisted until he surrendered. His plans are to follow this wonderful, magical, tumultuous road for as long as the music will have him… for as long as it causes his coffee to grow cold. He invites you to follow along.
“Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be Wonderful.” .....line from Song Of Gratitude, —Marcus Ruggiero