His music has been characterized as a mixture of blues, country, and soft jazz. He’s been number one in the Norwegian charts and fourth in The Global Blues Charts, but if you ask somebody from Romania who Joe Rusi – born Mircea Rusi – is, most people would shrug their shoulders.
Mircea was attracted to music from an early age. He started playing the violin at six, but he was forced to give up as a result of an accident.
“I was 11 and I fell from the second floor during a childish game. I broke my hands in several places, and the doctors told me that I wouldn’t be able to play for at least a year. When I’d recovered, I started to play the guitar”, the artist tells Alexandra Spinu at The Foreigner.
Rusi’s mentor whilst he lived in Romania was Fani Dumitroaie.
“He was the most important man for my life and career. For five years he was my mentor, my friend, and acted as my father. I would like very much to sing at the festival that bears his name”, says Rusi.
Joe completed his Masters in Songwriting and Guitar at Berklee College of Music, where he was awarded the Berklee College of Music Celebrity Scholarship.
Rick Peckham, Assistant Chair of the Berklee College of Music Guitar Department, told joerusi.com that
“Joe Rusi’s guitar playing is just something people love when they hear. Great. Simply great.”
“I started in bars and restaurants”
In 1998, Joe left Romania and began his musical career in Norway with “Bill and Joe”.
At the same time he was the front figure of NSB and Farzz.
But few know that Rusi began by working as a guitar teacher. During this period he got to know the famous Paul Weedev, who become his mentor.
However, the road to success was not smooth and free from trials and obstacles.
“I started in bars and restaurants. I have played in all possible places and at all kinds of events. I worked hard. I fought tooth and nail, whilst believing constantly that things were possible”, says Joe.
He took his stage name after a gig in a bar.
“I was singing in a small bar that was nearly empty when a person asked me if knew any Hendrix, and I played «Hey Joe». The bar’s owner told me: «It’s very hard to pronounce Mircea, but Joe fits your style.» And so it remained,” recalls the artist.
“He’s a Gypsy Rolling Stone”
The song that captured the public’s attention was Sunday Morning Blues. The artist says he’s inspired not only by his feelings and life, but also by stories that people tell him. One of his most successful texts, Where did you sleep last night, is not related to him, but to a story he heard.
At the same time, the story of the The Gypsy Rolling Stone’s maxi-single is a funny one. Rusi recalls that
“One of my friends couldn’t make the connection between the beggars from Oslo and the country where I came from. So I explained that the Gypsies are varied, like many others ethnic groups. And he said «Joe… you’re a Gypsy Rolling Stone». I haven’t a drop of Gypsy blood in me, but it remained that way. I just see this as positive.”
But the career of Joe Rusi doesn’t stop here. In 2010, he’s going to perform at both the Notodden Blues and the Molde festivals.
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