Mark Rubin, ‘Jew of Oklahoma,’ will play island show

Rubin is known for his muscular musicianship and larger-than-life persona.

Mark Rubin, who performs under the banner of “Jew of Oklahoma,” will present “Americana Stories and Songs from the Jewish South” in concert at 7 p.m. Friday, June 7, at Vashon Havurah at 15401 Westside Hwy SW.

Rubin’s Vashon stop is part of a rare Northwest tour that will take him to Seattle’s Royal Room and an as-yet-undisclosed location near Port Hadlock to play with the famed alternative bluegrass band, Bad Livers, which he founded in 1990 with banjo virtuoso Danny Barnes.

Oklahoma-born, Texas-reared, and now living in New Orleans, Rubin is known for his muscular musicianship and larger-than-life persona, according to his website,

Over his 40-plus-year career, he has accompanied or produced American traditional music that straddles musical genres including country, Western swing, bluegrass, Cajun, Tex-Mex, polka, klezmer, and more.

In 2015, he released a solo effort, “Southern Discomfort,” which he followed with “Songs for the Hangman’s Daughter” in 2017. His latest release, “Triumph of Assimilation” has garnered rave reviews and debuted at #13 on the Billboard Bluegrass chart.

Rubin describes his music as “Southern Americana from a Jewish POV. To me, being a Jew means being socially conscious as well. And I like to think of myself working in the same vein as my fellow Okies, Woody Guthrie and Will Rodgers.”

Citing his songwriting influences, he has name-checked country hitmaker Harlan Howard and the Polish-Yiddish poet Mordechai Gebertig.

“I’ll reckon I’m the only place where both those worlds reside in equal measure,” he said.

Currently, he works as a professional musician playing tenor banjo with the Panorama Jazz Band in New Orleans and is a first-call tuba and bassist in the Yiddish Klezmer community, performing nationally and internationally. He recently took a position at the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience, “where he jokes he’s an exhibit,” according to his bio.

Tickets to the concert are $20; doors open at 6:45 p.m.