"The army shows that to get somewhere you have to prove something to yourself and others," says 23-year-old guitarist Kelli Ruddick, an Israeli army veteran. Ruddick, who plays Lestat's, E Street Cafe, Twiggs, and the Blarney Stone, is the only local performing musician under 40 to have been drafted. Born in Connecticut, she moved to Israel with her family as an infant.
"In Israel, military service is still mandatory," says Ruddick. "Men serve three years, women for a year and nine months.... For me, it was good to deal with such an extreme system at the age of 18. In Israel, there are a lot of external problems. You focus on staying alive, on survival. In America, there is so much freedom. People focus more on themselves. I notice people are more into partying and having fun.... When I meet kids my age, I notice a gap in maturity."
Unlike most female guitarists, Ruddick, 23, does not sing.
"I have a lot of finger-picking, two-handed tapping, and thumb-slapping percussion on the body [of the guitar]," she says. "My hands are all over the place. It is shocking to some people when they see me play. They don't expect to see a woman doing aggressive stuff onstage."
Kelli Ruddick plays the Coaster Saloon on Sunday at 9 p.m. with the Jordan Loder Band. Free admission. Must be 21.