Nestled between a pair of bright red bushes, Ruvane sent a message from his backyard deck: "Every little thing gonna be all right."
The Reynoldsburg-based singer-songwriter, whose full name is Ruvane Kurland, shook off any rust that might have set in from the COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown with a backyard concert May 24 to promote his ninth album, "19."
With the pandemic shutting down such mass gatherings as concerts, Ruvane decided to play for friends and neighbors. He sang to an audience of 24, all of whom were practicing social distancing by sitting at least 6 feet apart in his yard and in four adjacent lots in Reynoldsburg's Taylor Woods neighborhood.
"I have been writing music and performing for over 20 years, and I have never played a concert on my deck," Ruvane said. "It feels good to be back at it."
Ruvane began an 11-song set by covering a Bob Marley song, "Three Little Birds," which many know from its refrain of "every little thing gonna be all right."
"I'm used to mostly playing for my webcam over the past few months," he said. "I had a lot of stuff planned, and I was looking at some international touring for this year. That all kind of got put on hold. We're excited for things to clear up so we can get back to doing it again."
As Ruvane played, his family -- wife Naomi, 12-year-old son Lyric and 7-year-old daughter Aria -- sat "backstage" at a patio table equipped with an umbrella to shade them from the 86-degree warmth of the sun.
The concert came at the suggestion of one of the family's neighbors, Tom Bowyer.
"I think people are getting sick and tired of the pandemic and staying away from everyone, even though it's something we have to do," Bowyer said. "It's a win-win situation because people are able to get out and socialize and still be smart.
"He's an entertainer, and he needs to perform. We need to get out and have some fun and socialize in a responsible way. Also, we can get away from the computer and the TV for a little bit."
Ruvane was going through his setlist when he reached song No. 4, "Blankets and Stars," from his 2009 album, "Life in 360."
As if on cue, Cliff Spruill entered the backyard to join the crowd. Spruill of Clifton Guitarworks designed both Ruvane's guitar and the electric ukulele featured on the fourth song.
"I made the guitar and the ukulele, and all of the things I make are from what we call 'rescue wood,' " said the Canal Winchester resident. "We don't buy wood from the store or anything like that. It's wood that people have found in their yards or logs from the side of the freeway. I have made guitars out of the side rails of old flatbed pickup trucks.
"They are just all old, mature-growth wood. It's a nice, dense wood that gives you all of the sustain and all of the tone that the guitar wants."
Ruvane was able to practice playing for a slightly smaller audience May 17 as part of the Curbside Concert series. The project is managed by Can't Stop Columbus, a volunteer-driven initiative of Smart Columbus. Requests for a free concert can be made at sendaconcert.herokuapp.com.
"It was playing three or four songs live in someone's driveway," Ruvane said. "People can request concerts either for elderly folks or people who are health-compromised.
"A driver takes the artist around to a home, you set up really quick and you have a battery-powered sound system on the back of a pickup truck. Then you play a mini concert, give them a smile and a farewell, and you're on to the next place."
The May 24 deck performance came to an end with a cover of the Tokens' "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." Ruvane's family didn't doze through the number but danced around the deck to the familiar "a-weema-weh" chorus.
Normally, Ruvane performs 60 to 80 live shows per year, but his last official tour date was March 6 at Donatos Black Brick in Columbus' Short North. His next scheduled performance, according to his website, ruvanemusic.com, is slated Sept. 5 at Laird Arcade Brewery in Tiffin.
Ruvane said the latest album has 11 tracks but is called "19" for several reasons.
"Well, 19 is my favorite number, and the 11 songs were written in 19 different cities," he said. "Also, there were 19 different musicians and engineering staff that helped with the album."
Ruvane, who is from Council Bluffs, Iowa, said his newest album may be purchased from "the usual streaming sites."
"I was able to work with a bunch of my friends, not only local artists but (also) internationally touring artists from other cities," he said. "We were able to collaborate on this album to help fulfill the vision of each song. That's what was awesome about it.
"We were able to work together to create this interesting style for each song. Although they all fit together as an album, there is a variety of styles that are represented on the disc."
Some of the artists lending a hand were Mark Boyce and Jimi "Jazz" Prescott of G. Love & Special Sauce, Johnny Polansky of Ekoostik Hookah and Travis Toy, who has toured and recorded with Rascal Flatts, among others.
"I always have had the notion that I should be the worst player in the room," Ruvane said. "I want everybody that I'm working with to be top-notch. They will help me to elevate my game, and that is what I sort of seek out."