CD Review: New North Carolina Ramblers

New North Carolina Ramblers

Flyin’ Clouds – Flop-Eared Mule – Forked
Deer – Surry County Sally Anne – Lost Indian – My Name Is John Johanna –
Texas Gals – The Fate Of Dewey Lee – Alabama Gals – Dan Carter Waltz –
Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down Blues – Baltimore Fire – Will You Miss Me
When I’m Gone – Hickman Rag – After The Ball – Round Town Gals – In A
Cottage By The Sea – The Letter That Never Came – Sandy River Belle –
Under The Double Eagle – Weary Prodigal Son – The Wreck Of The C&O
Sportsman – Mississippi Sawyer – Yellow Rose Of Texas

It is a stunning experience to put a CD in the player, and
instantly be transformed back in a time warp to the music of Charlie
Poole, and even the early Carter Family.  This incredible thoroughbred
presentation is going to be a number one ‘must have’ for lovers of
America’s early mountain and country music, especially from the
Appalachian Mountains area.  Piano wasn’t really an early instrument of
the Hillbillies who played the music mostly for self-entertainment and
fun.  However by 1925, it started showing up in the music that slowly
creeped out of the hills.  By 1926, Charlie Poole, as well as the
Hillbillies, was using the piano on tunes like ‘Hickman Rag’ and ‘Texas
Calls.’ Since ‘pianos’ were not readily available in the venues the New 
North Carolina Ramblers, when the discovered that a piano was available
for their evening performance at the Kennedy Center, they immediately
added “Hickman Rag” to their repertoire. The musicians that make up the
“New” sound is Kenny Rorrer mainstay on the traditional banjo, Kirk
Sutphin plays an astonishingly traditional fiddle, Jeremy Stephens an
all around fiddler, guitarist, and banjo player, and Darren Moore who
plays autoharp and guitar, but also added the piano to the very select
tunes they emulated Charlie Poole on.  This is an amazingly well done
‘live’ performance, and reveals the true talent of these fine musicians
who have stuck to the original traditional sound of early country and
hillbilly music. The all draw their love and appreciation for the
old-time sound from the same sources.  The Carter Family, Charlie Poole,
Roy Harvey, and Charley LaPrade are all influences on their musical
skills.  It’s highly unlikely that anyone who ‘cares’ about the
historical aspect of this kind of early music will find it played better
anywhere by anybody.  When I hear the ‘piano’ on some of these songs, I
wonder if perhaps this isn’t the early music that Scott Joplin or Jelly
Roll Morton might not have been influenced by.  Ragtime is an
interesting music mostly because of the ‘rag’ or ‘ragged’ tempo played.
These four musicians are each and every one a ‘true’ music history
keeper. As Bill Monroe once said about bluegrass music, he wanted to
keep ‘the ancient tones alive.’  That’s exactly what the New North
Carolina Ramblers are doing, especially with songs like “Don’t Let Your
Deal Go Down.”  These ‘Ramblers’ weren’t content with just listening to
old 78rpm records to ‘capture’ the sound they so explicitly reproduce. 
They made many trips finding and visiting with some of the last of the
early musical genre they play.  They are totally steeped, not only in
the way that they play, but in their incredible dedication to the music
they perform.  I love the acoustic guitar ‘intros’ especially those that
have the great Jimmie Rodgers style done so well.  Very good all the
way through, and perhaps more interesting, it’s authentic all the way
through.  I will be passing this CD along to the Rural Roots Music
Commission who give CD of the Year awards at our annual festival “The
National Old Time Music Festival” in LeMars, Iowa (Aug 27-Sept 2,
2018).  If my ‘feel’ for what they like is functioning today, and I
believe it is, these guys should somehow try to find their way to this
event for I’m sure they will receive the recognition they deserve.

RECORD REVIEW BY BOB EVERHART, Pres., National Traditional Country Music Association for Country Music News International

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