Mason Ruble passes

The midwestern bluegrass community has been stunned and deeply saddened by the tragic death of talented young banjo player Mason Ruble, who died on October 21 in a tragic automobile accident. Mason was 20 years of age, and passed just weeks ahead of his 21st birthday.

We all handle death in our own way, but nothing hits quite so brutally as the loss of a promising, energetic, and lovable young person. Needless to say, his parents, Dave and Angie Ruble, his brother Wayne, and the large group of his friends in the Kansas/Missouri bluegrass world have been devastated by this news.

It appears that Mason was driving home early on the morning of the 21st near his home in Minneapolis, Kansas, and swerved to avoid a deer, overcorrecting in the process. He lost control of his truck which rolled several times into a ditch. His roommate was traveling with him and remains hospitalized in critical condition.

Mason grew up in a bluegrass family, and started playing banjo at only eight years old, learning from his dad. The Ruble family played together, with mom on bass, dad on guitar, and brother, Wayne, on mandolin.

He developed quickly as a banjo picker, and was selected to be a part of the Kansas Bluegrass Associations Treblemakers youth band, under the direction of Jimmy and Karla Campbell. They played at festivals throughout the midwest, and came in second place at the KSMU Youth in Bluegrass Contest at Silver Dollar City in 2015. That same year the Treblemakers came to World of Bluegrass in Raleigh where they were featured on the Youth Stage and the Masters Workshop stage.

In 2017, then IBMA Executive Director Paul Schiminger picked Mason to be part of a youth bluegrass band they called The Salty Dogs to appear on Steve Harvey’s television program, Little Big Shots. Friends recall how often Mason mentioned that opportunity, and how much he enjoyed getting to appear on TV.

Long before he was old enough to drive, Ruble had distinguished himself as among the most promising young banjo players on the scene, and a great deal was expected as he grew into a fine young man and an experienced musician.

He was invited to join Missouri-based That Dalton Gang in 2018, with Cheyenne Dalton, Jimmy Meyer, and Wyatt Harman. Mason was already good friends with bassist Harman, and came to audition for the open banjo spot. They clicked right away, and played together for the next five years, leaving one after the other earlier this year.

Wyatt and Mason were in the process of building their own group, Harman & Ruble, over this past summer, with Wyatt’s wife Charity, along with Justus Ross and Turner Atwell. They played shows as recently as two weeks ago, and had a number of festivals booked for next year.

In addition to bluegrass, Mason loved outdoor activities, and was an avid fisherman and hunter. He won the Kansas Peace Officer’s Association Speed Shooting Award in 2019 and had shot a 20 point record buck that same year.

A graduate of Salina Area Technical College in 2021, he worked full time as a diesel mechanic. he excelled there as well, coming in first place in a regional competition in his trade, which qualified him to move on to the national competition where he took 8th.

Adults who knew him recall Mason as a young man who said what he meant and meant what he said. The sort who would look you in the eye and offer a firm handshake. His contemporaries will remember him as a loyal friend, a terrific musician, and a kind soul.

Too tragic for words…

A memorial service will be held on Friday, October 27, at Bennington Bible Church in Bennington, KS, followed by a private graveside service at in Highland Cemetery in Minneapolis.

The Mason Ruble Memorial Fund has been established in his honor, which will be used to fund bluegrass scholarships as his parents will decide in the future.  At this stage, contributions can be sent to: 

Wilson Family Funeral Home
405 Argyle Ave
Minneapolis, KS  67467

R.I.P., Mason Ruble.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.