The Kennedy Center

Marc Ribot


Marc Ribot (pronounced REE-bow) was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1954. As a teen, he played guitar in various garage bands while studying with his mentor, Haitian classical guitarist and composer Frantz Casseus. In 1978, Ribot crossed the river to New York City, where he served as sideman for such musicians as jazz organist Jack McDuff and legendary soul shouter Wilson Pickett. The following year, Ribot joined the Realtones, and the Uptown Horns Band, which worked as a NYC pickup band for such Stax/Volts stars as Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Solomon Burke and many others.

Ribot began his five-year stint as a member of the Lounge Lizards –John Lurie’s innovative and influential Downtown jazz ensemble– in 1984. Marc’s playing, which blended elements of classic Blues guitar with an ironic No Wave/Knitting Factory aesthetic, caught the ear of a number of artists who were also interested in amalgamating and disrupting disparate musical traditions. Ribot performed on some of these singer/songwriter’s finest records, including Elvis Costello’s Spike, Mighty Like a Rose, and Kojak Variety; Marianne Faithful’s Blazing Away; and Tom Waits’ Rain Dogs, Big Time, Frank's Wild Years, and Mule Variations.

All the while, the increasingly in-demand guitarist continued to explore the ever-changing terrain of New York’s New Music scene, working with musicians such as Arto Lindsay, Don Byron, Anthony Coleman, T-Bone Burnett, the Jazz Passengers, Evan Lurie, the Sun Ra Arkestra, Chocolate Genius, Bill Frisell, and John Zorn in any number of incarnations. Ribot also composed and recorded his own brand of Downtown soul music with his bands, Rootless Cosmopolitans and Shrek, as well under his own name. In 1996 he recorded Don't Blame Me, which found a solo Ribot reinventing a number of American standards, which was hailed by The Village Voice as “a record filled with savory and unlikely amusements.” In 1998 Atlantic Records released the first Marc Ribot Y Los Cubanos Postizos record, featuring Ribot’s beautifully slanted interpretations of material by the great Cuban songwriter Arsenio Rodriguez.

Recent musical scores by Marc Ribot include Yoshiko Chuma’s Altogether Different dance piece, a documentary film by Greg Feldman titled Joe Schmoe, a feature film by director Joe Brewster titled The Killing Zone, and In as Much as Life is Borrowed, a dance piece by famed Belgian choreographer, Wim Vanderkeybus.

Composer Stewart Wallace is currently writing an electric guitar concerto with orchestra for Marc. The National Symphony Orchestra will premiere the piece in Washington DC in July 2004.

Marc continues to write and perform and collaborate. He’s currently working on a new, sonically dense, rock band called the Marc Ribot Mystery Trio. He’s also producing a record of material by the great Haitian composer/guitar player, Frantz Casseus, as well as recording with artists Elvis Costello, and Patti Scialfa.
Marc Ribot