Freak Juice Delivers Sound and Substance

Courtesy Horton Records
PUT IT IN THE BLENDER: They Call Us Juice by Freak Juice and Friends was released by Horton Records on Nov. 13, 2020. It’s currently available for purchase at

Tulsa guitarist and self-proclaimed “juiceologist” Torri Ruffin is garnering some well-deserved national buzz for his innovative infusion of genres and bold, invigorating sound.
No, it’s not his fictional band Sexual Chocolate from the 1988 Eddie Murphy Movie Coming To America that has Ruffin on the music industry’s radar. It’s his current band, Freak Juice that has earned the Detroit native and Tulsan since 2003 a spot on National Public Radio’s Emerging Artist Spotlight’s list of artists to watch in 2021.
Emerging artist is a little misleading, as Ruffin’s resume includes touring and recording with legends like Prince, Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Morris Day, Lenny Kravits, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and more. But it’s the 2020 album “They Call Us Juice,” available at, that marks Ruffin’s emergence as more than a sideman.
Ruffin is using his decades of experience as a touring musician playing various genres of music to blend rock ‘n roll with hip-hop, jazz, funk, reggae and blues into a unique and meaningful album. Meaningful in the sense that Ruffin speaks out on multiple issues through his music, initiating and expanding dialogue on topics that impact our communities far more than music and entertainment.
From calling out two-faced politicians on the track Hypocrite, to declaring that systematic racism is our country’s affliction on the track Hands to the Sky, this album is more than hard-driving, funky riffs and tight rhythms.
As we near the 100-year anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre, no track on the album is as relevant as Dirty Little Secret, a song with a powerful guitar lead and an even more powerful message that brings the 1921 attack on the Greenwood District in North Tulsa into the light. “Shine a light on darkness, let love show us the way,” the song pleads. I expect to hear that song a lot this year as it provides a poignant soundtrack for the centennial commemorations of the May 31 attack.
Joining Ruffin in Freak Juice are Chris Simpson, vocals; Stanley Fary, drums; Charlie Redd, bass; and Cristopher Mason, bass. They Call Us Juice also features an impressive list of guest musicians, including Tulsans Jesse Aycock, Paul Benjaman, Seth Lee Jones, Austin Stunkard, Ryan Wayne Tedder and more.

Juicemaker Lounge
Live music has been hard to come by since winter weather has deprived us of outdoor concerts that allow for safe distancing, but I truly believe that we are in the home stretch of this pandemic.
As more people receive vaccinations, our slumbering music scene is poised for an awakening. For Ruffin’s business venture, Juicemaker Lounge on 35th Street and Sheridan Road, that awakening can’t come soon enough.
Ruffin opened the club in 2018 to feature multiple genres, establishing a venue that was enticing to musicians.
Juicemaker provides instruments and a PA so musicians can just show up and play. The interior is designed with acoustics and comfort in mind, with sound-dampening walls and couches that create a laid-back atmosphere.
As with all music venues, COVID has hurt business significantly since March 2020. The venue has survived by implementing safety measures and hosting live stream virtual concerts, but that is surviving, not thriving. Hopefully, some of my readers will be vaccinated by the time they read this, and to you I say, go check out Juicemaker Lounge as you begin to safely ease back in to life that we used to call normal. Visit for upcoming shows.
Freak Juice will perform live at The Shrine on Feb. 5 as the opening act for Indigenous, a blues and rock band featuring guitarist Mato Nanji, a member of the critically acclaimed Experience Hendrix Tour. If you can attend safely, I highly recommend going.
As winter gives way to spring, vaccinations will ramp up, venues will schedule more shows, and we will rejoice with the joy of a thousand shots of dopamine as we are finally able, without restrictions, to keep searching, keep listening.