The Red Stick Ramblers

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The Red Stick Ramblers are a Cajun/Zydeco/Bluegrass/Swing band hailing from Southern Louisiana, namely the Lafayette/Baton Rouge area. I went to see them perform at The Rosendale Theatre in Rosendale, NY last Thursday evening. I had seen them live only once before, at Dance Flurry (a big three day music and dance festival held in Saratoga, NY every February) this past year. There were quite a number of dancers at the Rosendale show, and everyone crowded in the aisles and in front of the stage so they could dance.

The Red Stick Ramblers play a lot of Zydeco two-steps, as well as some swing numbers, and waltzes thrown in there for good measure. Speaking of waltzes, my favorite song off their most recent album, “Made In The Shade,” is a beautiful waltz sung in French called “Les Oiseaux Vont Chanter.” They played that song at the show, and there’s just something about it that kind of captures your attention and draws you in… I don’t know if it’s the double stops on the fiddle, or maybe the two fiddles playing together (gotta love the two fiddles), but whatever it is it works. Since I mentioned the two fiddles, I guess now would be a good time to let you know who’s in the band: Linzay Young on fiddle and vocals, Kevin Wimmer on fiddle, Chas Justus on guitar, Glenn Fields on drums, and Eric Frey on bass (he also played banjo at the show).

As I said, my favorite song off their newest album is “Les Oiseaux Vont Chanter.” They played a number of songs off the album at the show in Rosendale, including “The Cowboy Song,” “Katrina,” “Some Of These Days,” and the title track, “Made In The Shade.” The instrumental intro on “The Cowboy song” is nice, but once Linzay starts singing I don’t really like the song anymore. It’s a bit too nostalgic, and not in a good way… I like nostalgia and can be guilty of it myself, but I find it annoying in the song. I really like “Katrina,” it has a great rollicking sound. The whole band sings on the chorus (I always love it when bands do that!) and it suits the particular song extremely well. “Made In The Shade” is a good dance tune, it sounds like something you might have heard coming from a jukebox in the 50’s… “Some Of These Days” is a Shelton Brooks  song, and forget red-hot, their version of that song at the show the other night was white-hot!!! My favorite they played all night. It was really high-energy, and a fun dance number. The Red Stick Ramblers played a few Bob Wills  tunes as well, and all of those were fun to dance to. They should really stop trying to do the sound effects that his Playboys used to do though, it just wound up sounding silly when they tried…

I enjoyed myself immensely, but the one complaint that I have against The Red Stick Ramblers is that they aren’t particularly animated onstage. For the most part they just kind of stand there, and they don’t put a lot of heart or soul into their playing. For example; Kevin Wimmer is a great fiddler. He has good technique, and I’ve heard him play some real nice Django Reindhart. That said, there’s no fire there, no spirit… He doesn’t even move with his instrument. He’s disconnected from it, rather than it being a part of him, an extension of his body if you will… The other members are the same way too, and I don’t understand it. Not when they play the kind of music that they do, and especially not when they’re from Louisiana. There is so much fantastic music down there, and it’s a way of celebrating life! It’s just strange and dissapointing that The Red Stick Ramblers act and play so sedately. Both times I’ve seen them their “enthusiasm” for the music has left something to be desired. The first time, at Dance Flurry, I though it might have just been due to lack of sleep and crazy scheduling (three shows in three different locations within the festival, all in one day) but this time, there was no excuse.

All in all I had a good time, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to see them again. The highlight of the night for me was when they brought out special guest Jesse Lege  for the last few songs. Jesse’s been playing Cajun music for over 35 years, and has been in numerous bands along the way. He sang and played his accordion, and he does both with passion. The way it should be done.

Some videos from the show:

Les Oeisaux Vont Chanter

Katrina

Made In The Shade

And with Jesse Lege

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