First Bite

Carl Rubino

(BBR 6501-2)

Beeno Boy Records
RR 2 Box 2056
Westport, NY 12993

A review written for The Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
by Michele Scherneck

I have tremendous respect for the folk musicians of upstate NY. Carl Rubino is one of several talented singer/songwriters in the central NY and Adirondack region. First Bite, Carl's debut album, was released in 1995. Fittingly, the lyrics and delivery of the songs on the album are refreshingly simple and honest. Carl's voice sounds like a countrified Bill Morrissey, and his lyrics tell stories of ordinary folk with imperfect lives doing their best to get by.

First Bite includes a mixture of romantic and humorous stories and reflections. Just an Old Tear Stained Letter is a sweet song of lost love. The dim light of the closet illuminates a photo and a rumpled letter stained with tears. These "locked up treasures" contain memories of faded love and sad regret. Tinged with regret and a plea for forgiveness, My Used To Be Yours Truly is my favorite song on the album. Carl's gentle finger-picking is as light as the fall of autumn leaves in a soft breeze on a sunny, warm October day.

Adirondack Winter is the perfect song for a cold night in January. The snow sparkles with the light of the shining moon on a cold clear, Adirondack night. As you walk, you can see the crystals in the air as you exhale and hear the "crunch of snow, underneath heel and toe..." The Northern Lights dance through the "...mountain sky all painted bright..." on this cold clear, winter night.

Jimmy & Stella (Love Doesn't Always Play in Tune) describes a tender, imperfect love shared by two lonely, desperate people. Stella's faded beauty is matched by Jimmy's wasted years at the bar. Stella is comforted in her sexual flirtations and Jimmy is comforted by the bottle and a seat at the bar:

It's hard to see what
they saw in each other
But love doesn't always play in tune.

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Lost is about living life in the middle. It's about avoiding sorrow by not risking anything at all. Any relationship is a gamble that yields the potential for either joy or sorrow. This one is about people who never roll the dice; they're not contented to watch, but they're not desperate enough to take a chance. First Bite highlights Carl on acoustic guitar and vocals. He is supported by Gordon Stone on pedal-steel guitar on Just an Old Tear Stained Letter" and A Heartbeat from a Heartache, Chuck Eller on piano on Adirondack Winter and I Can't Start to Miss You, and Christine Adler on background vocals on I Can't Start to Miss You. Carl Rubino captures an earthly innocence in his stories. His observations are sincere and unpretentious, seemingly penned by the man next door. I liked this one...from "first bite."

For more information on Carl Rubino visit his web site at

First Bite is available directly from Carl Rubino at:
Carl Rubino
Box 2056
Westport, New York 12993

Edited by David Schultz

Copyright 1998, by Michele Scherneck and Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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