For me, the highlight of the conference (The 2023 annual convention of the Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica) was experiencing the mind-blowing performance of Indian psychedelic blues music from Madcat's C.A.R.Ma Quartet. Madcat started with a jaw harp, which sounded like something from outer space. The band and the audience blasted off from there. 


Steve P. Klein

Harmonica Happenings

Vol. 77 No. 4

Fall 2023 
Record review:
C.A.R.Ma. Quartet
“Cosmic Convergence”
What Stands Out: Brilliant with spirit and painted with humor, this eccentric nine-song release from the Ann Arbor troupe is full of surprises. In a playground of sound, the quartet uses a myriad of instruments and styles from across the globe that takes improv to another level – one that feels supernatural and incredibly magnetic.
Digging Deeper: Right off the bat, the album greets the audience in a peculiar way with erratic sounds, hurried percussion and a single voice brimming with soul, striking the listener with curiosity. When slapping bass comes walking hand in hand with a sweeping guitar solo and you recognize the frantic feeling that has engulfed you, a wildly impressive harmonica solo sails in and steals the spotlight. Moving through the album, it becomes apparent that this instrument, played by vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and Grammy Award-winning virtuoso Peter Madcat Ruth, is a key highlight in the songwriting for this quartet. “Appalachian Sun” stands out as the sultry, moody third track. Tribal percussion played by John Churchville, a Grammy-winning tabla player, is anchored down by alluring bass performed by internationally touring artist Brennan Andes. Ruth’s warbling, harmonica wails on while splashes of jazz guitar played by seasoned vocalist/guitarist/educator Dan Ripke add flashing neon colors to an already invigorating experience, transporting the listener to a psychedelic Spaghetti Western. The four continue to dance with each other through uncharted territories, showcasing the astounding musical chops they each encapsulate. Dynamic, thrilling and toeing the line of over-stimulating, this improvisational collection unfurls as a genuine treat for the ears.
Perfect For: Jumping in the car and heading west with nothing but a map, a good friend and a whole lot of time.
~ Jennifer Bartlett ~
January 4, 2023
Local Spins - Covering West Michigan's Music Scene


Peter Madcat Ruth's C.A.R.Ma. Quartet
Live at Rancho Tranquillico,
July 29, 2023
What an ambience, what a night, what an incredible band! Those four guys  have complete control over their respective instruments. No matter what type of song they performed (be it originals, Indian, country, folklore, spherical or Chicago Blues), each musician was always spot on. 
No word needs to be wasted on Peter Madcat Ruth: we all know that he is one of the very best harmonica players in the world, who was awarded a Grammy for his playing and during his lifelong career played with the likes of Dave Brubeck. 
But maybe I should at least mention his enticing ukulele playing and his firm, versatile, often very bluesy voice. 
John Churchville on the tablas and the drums is, yes, another Grammy winner, for his tabla playing. And boy! what an artist he is. His hands often moved faster than the rotor blades of a helicopter, taking his audience to musical places not many had been before: from Indian skies all the way to the darker streets of Chicago. 
Brennan Andes on bass guitar proved to the audience that a bass is not only a handful of low tone strings. He rode his fretless (!) electric like a cowboy tames a wild bull at some Texas rodeo. Never before have I seen a bass player live (and I have seen many...) who played so creatively, so versatile, so nuanced and so fast. His mind blowing musical duets with either John Churchville on tablas or Dan Ripke on guitar were more than astounding. 
Dan Ripke is the more quiet one. Friendly and composed, not the wild man. Yet, his exceptional guitar solos rank among the best you can hear. He surprised with jazzy, elaborate, often very fast runs and an incredible feel for whatever style song he interpreted. 
The arrangements of each song were superbly orchestrated, with interesting changes in dynamics or rhythm, and unexpected breaks, which were conducted with incredible precision by all four.
The two hour show left everybody happy.
Wolf Reuter
July 30, 2023.