Red Stick Ramblers let the good music flow
Johnny D's, Somerville, Mass., May 12, 2004
SOMERVILLE, MA - The back of the 2002 debut album from the Red Stick Ramblers says to file the music of the Louisiana band under "authentic cajun gypsy swing."
And the description is just about on target in describing the sextet, who play country, Cajun and Western swing music to very fine effect.
When mixing those three ingredients, that makes for one potent, lively mix. The musicianship of the group, which released a very strong second album, "Bring It On Down," last fall, is the highlight with Josh Caffery a very strong mandolin player often giving the country edge to the music. Lead singer Linzay Young and Joel Savoy brought a double dose of fiddle playing, which sounded awfully sweet at times. And electric guitarist Chas Justus often plucked the right notes without ever overdoing it.
Drummer Glenn Fields set a very very steady beat throughout the evening, never letting the songs drag.
After the sterling first set, the inevitable break slowed them down. Think of it similar to a basketball game where a team has its legs in the first half and is scoring at a will only to have their momentum broken by the required half-time break.
For the Ramblers, it took them awhile in the second set to find their groove. They played a few too many covers instead of relying on their own material. The effect is that they could have been accused of being more a covers band.
Not that they didn't do a good job with Bob Wills' "Take Me Back to Tulsa" and "Roly Poly" (though can a band into western swing play something besides these two songs?) and "Stay All Night."
One of the best songs of the set was the unrecorded "Closing Time Blues," written by Justus.
However the Red Stick Ramblers may be described musically, the emphasis should be that they make lively, fun music.