What’s your answer to the musical question, “Where were you when the Evenin’ Sun went down?” For most of the past 12 years of Thursdays (but recently moved to Fridays at 5:00PM) that answer would be listening to Ruby spin all those great blues tunes, many featuring women artists. Simple calculations show that she’s been on the air for over a 1000 hours during that time and that adds up to a whole bunch of Etta, Denise, Irma, Marcia and Katie.
Ruby was brought into WMPG through her friend, and originator of the Evenin’ Sun program, Ed Noyes. After a few evenings of subbing for one of the boys, she acquired her own timeslot in September of 1990, and has since become one of the more recognized voices at the station. Her actual name is Elizabeth Simkoff (you’ll know you’re with a really old friend if you hear her called Beth) and the “Ruby” was taken from a favorite art-deco ring of her grandmother’s.
She credits her parents for influencing her musical tastes. They lived in New York City (her mother grew up in Harlem) and they found hitting the Apollo or Savoy for a night of Ellington or Goodman was the real ticket. Ruby’s own “formative years” were spent in Miami where she absorbed the soul music of the 60’s and 70’s. (You can assume that also accounts for her taste in flamingo pink and turquoise interior decorations). Charlie, her best friend for over 30 years, moved to New Orleans and got her initiated into that musical gumbo. After she gets through stirring in all those great funky New Orleans sounds as well, her version of the blues is hard to turn off. If you’ve missed her special sets of the girls vocal groups or those special December evenings dedicated to Professor Longhair and James Booker, you aren’t getting the full WMPG treatment.
If you’ve ever enjoyed the annual Mardi Gras open house at the station, you’ve seen another aspect of her dedication to the station. She’s been up to her hips in the planning work for all those great special times, helping to pull together the sponsors and food contest entrants, yet finding time to don her bug-eye glasses to play several hours of that great second line groove. In addition to her many volunteer hours on the air, she’s spent as much time away from the microphone serving at various times as the Blues Director, front office manager, on the Board of Directors and on numerous special committees.
Ruby, along with Dinah and Booker, also participate in the local therapy dog program at the Maine Medical Center bringing some temporary enjoyment to the patients that just might be missing their own pets.
She says, “My greatest thrill is to get a groove going, just play the tunes and have good feedback from the listeners. Then I know I did a good job!”
Get your weekend jump-started with Ruby and her distinctive version of the Evenin’ Sun Blues programming every Friday evening at 5.