Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Prescription Bluegrass Reviews RAMBLE ON from The Dirty River Ramblers

Image635162975508623934Ramble On is the debut recording project of the Dirty River Ramblers, from the Omaha, Nebraska area, and features ten original pieces, including three instrumentals.

A quick glance at the cover art suggests they are perhaps a traditional Bluegrass group, but, in fact, they sound more like a quasi-mix of Old-time, jam-band, folk, southern rock-ish with a prevailing old-time feel.

This effort is not likely to spawn accolades for spectacular musicianship or particularly strong vocal talents, though both are adequate and pleasant and some of the lead singing (not sure who sings where) is strong and somewhat above average.

Their strength and appeal, however, lie in the thoughtful and, sometimes, clever lyrics they write and with their ability to arrange their work. This recording is a little like a ‘pitch’ project where a group of writers record songs to be ‘pitched’ to potential clients that might record their work.

Of the seven vocal cuts I found myself most drawn to Copper Coil Daydream and Eliza Mae, by guitar player Mace Hathaway, as well as the whimsical Red Bird Stomp, by fiddle and banjo player Josh Krohn and Take it Easy With My Heart by mandolinist Justin Kephart. Hippy Girl, by Mace Hathaway, also comes across well. Heck, that’s five of the seven songs on the CD.

There are no bad songs on the project. The lyrics and feel of the songs are stylistically appropriate—meaning they are good choices for their vocal ranges and also that they ‘fit’ and mesh with the character the band presents. I get a sense from their material that the Dirty River Ramblers probably do a very entertaining live show.

Though there’s very little, if anything, of a strong traditional Bluegrass sound here, that’s not necessarily a negative characteristic. The banjo playing is pre-dominantly old-time style and there’s harmonica on several cuts. There’s almost none of the ‘drive’ one would expect from a “Bluegrass” band; however, this is still a worthy project with interesting material that is tastefully executed. I recommend this CD, especially to those who can appreciate good song-writing and to vocalists looking to add a cool song or two to their repertoire. MR



  1. I've heard the CD, and I couldn't agree more. You covered every aspect of their musical character critically, but tastfully. Very nice review! W.J. Hallock

  2. Thanks Bill! Mark


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