CD Review: The Ramblin’ Riversiders Skiffle Group – The Red Magnolia Washboard


The Red Magnolia Washboard

The Red Magnolia Washboard – Maybelle – Living In the Buckeye – Don’t She Rock Daddy-O – Down By The Riverside – 

I remember
the Ramblin’ Riversiders really well, they came to the National Old Time
Music Festival when it was in Avoca, or maybe it was Missouri Valley,
or maybe it was both.  “Skiffle’ is an interesting ‘nomenclature’
adapted to an English musical genre we might call ‘old-time country.’ 
The energy and dedication of this group is incredible, much like the
Hoosier Hotshots of long ago.  This particular CD is a short-version of
their own songwriting abilities.  Harold Dearden is kind of the mover
and shaker among this group, and wrote the first and last song on this
very well done demo.  Eddie Holden, the guitarist and banjo picker wrote
“Maybelle.”  Not sure if Eddie is right or not, but he wrote the song
about Mother Maybelle Carter’s Gibson guitar.  Apparently, according to
the story, a collector bought Maybelle’s Gibson and then had it locked
up in a bank vault.  According to Eddie ‘The equivalent of locking a
Nightingale in a cage.’ The song is an incredibly good ‘story’ about
Maybelle’s guitar being sold to a bank.  Can’t get much better than
that.  The other two songs, by Harold Dearden are also classic ‘story’
songs, the way country music used to be.  The ‘Red Magnolia Washboard’
is typical of washboard bands.  According to Dearden, since 1895 this
wonderfully evocative percussion instrument (whose real purpose is for
home laundry) has been manufactured across the Atlantic at the Columbus
Washboard Company in Ohio.  He went on to emphasize the fact that
Maid-Rite still manufactures, in Ohio, the washboard they use in their
band.  This entire CD is a great ‘Disc Jockey’ sampling of what the
Ramblin’ Riversiders do with an incredibly happy and good-time musical
art form.  The Riversiders are actually a six-member band.  Dearden on
ukulele and vocals; George Pitchard on washboard and vocals; Neil
Farnworth on guitar and vocals; Eddie Holden on guitar, banjo, and
vocals; Pat Flood on double (acoustic) bass; Ronnie Westhead on slide
guitar and vocals. The Rambler’s also seem to ‘ramble’ a bit on the
songs they do, some of them not even listed on the CD insert.  It’s a
bit of a surprise to hear additional songs not listed on the cover.
Another great song, a kind of railroad song (no title listed) has an
absolutely great keyboard player on it, along with an accordion that
almost makes it Zydeco style.  Next song, unlisted, opens with an
electric guitar demonstrating early ‘echo’ abilities. Then another well
written ‘train’ song, then a ‘ramblin’ song (includes the state of Iowa)
with a great harmonica lead on it. Much more in this old-timey early
‘beat’ music. Another railroad song, and it just keeps going on.  I
believe this might be a ‘collectors’ version of a whole ton of songs
that the Ramblin’ Riversiders recorded in England.  If I’m not mistaken,
Jerry Hughes from West Virginia gave this CD to me out in Mesa,
Arizona.  It’s a good listen Jerry, even though I’m probably not
supposed to, I’m sending it along to the Rural Roots Musi Commission,
mostly on the basis of the first three ‘original’ songs. – RECORD REVIEW BY BOB EVERHART, Pres., National Traditional Country Music Association for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

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