THE HACKBERRY RAMBLERS OCTOBER ODYSSEY: Performances in New Orleans, Oxford MS, and Nashville, plus Film Festival Screenings of the Acclaimed PBS Documentary Make Em’ Dance!
October, 2004, will be a busy month for The Hackberry Ramblers, those venerable practitioners of Cajun music, western swing, and timeless dance-floor fun. The band will perform in New Orleans at 5 PM on Sunday, October 10, at Tipitina’s weekly fais do-do dance, and play a short set at 8:30 PM on Monday, October 11, at the Prytania Theater. Thursday, October 28, at 5 PM finds the boys playing in Oxford MS, on the live program Thacker Mountain Radio, presented by Square Books. And on Saturday, October 30 the Ramblers will play at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville (www.countrymusichalloffame.com) at 1 PM. The Ramblers’ trip to Nashville is made possible with support from the Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau, www.visitlakecharles.org.
The band’s October 11 set at the Prytania Theater will follow a New Orleans Film Festival screening of the acclaimed documentary Make ‘Em Dance: The Hackberry Ramblers’ Story, at 7 PM. In addition, music journalist Michael Tisserand will interview the band; Tisserand wrote a memorable profile of the Ramblers for the 1998 Southern Music Issue of The Oxford American.
Accommodations for the Ramblers’ trip to New Orleans are provided courtesy of Maison St. Charles Hotel & Suites, www.maisonstcharles.com.
The Austin, TX, Film Festival (www.austinfilmfestival.com) will screen Make ‘Em Dance on Thursday, October 14, at 7 PM at the Regal Arbor Theater and on Sunday, October 17, at 4:45 PM at the Dobie Theater.
On Saturday, October 16 Make ‘Em Dance will be shown in Las Vegas, NV at the AARP Life@50+ Event and Expo at 2 PM at the Sands Expo & Convention Center.
The Savannah, GA, Film Festival presents two screenings of Make ‘Em Dance: on Tuesday, October 26, at 12:30 PM at the Trustees Theater, and on Saturday, October 30, at 10 AM, at the Lucas Theatre.
And the Ramblers’ performance at the Country Music Hall of Fame will follow a screening of Make ‘Em Dance in the Ford Theater. Director and co-producer John Whitehead will attend both screenings in Savannah; co-producer Ben Sandmel will attend screenings in New Orleans, Austin, Nashville, and October 26 in Savannah.
In other Hackberry Ramblers news, the band contributes a song to the upcoming album Christmas Gumbo, set for November, 2004, release, on Flambeau Records ( www.christmasgumbocd.com) Christmas Gumbo is a collection of original new songs written by Greg Barnhill and Will Robinson, and performed by such Louisiana luminaries as the Ramblers, Allen Toussaint, the subdudes, Irma Thomas, Arts Neville, BeauSoleil and Aaron Neville.
HACKBERRY RAMBLERS DOCUMENTARY TO SCREEN AT OXFORD, MS., FILM FESTIVAL ON FRIDAY, JUNE 18, 2004
The acclaimed documentary, Make ‘Em Dance: The Hackberry Ramblers’ Story, has been accepted for screening at the Oxford Film Festival in Oxford, MS .Â Â Oxford enjoys longstanding renown as an inspirational gathering-place for writers, and as a leading center for the study and celebration of Southern regional culture.Â Â It’s also a town that has made The Hackberry Ramblers feel especially welcome.Â Â The band has performed in Oxford at the Southern Foodways Symposium, on the live radio program Thacker Mountain Radio and even in the seemingly unlikely confines of a sushi restaurant known as Two Stick.Â Â In addition, the Ramblers appear on the CD anthology Thacker Mountain Live , released by one of Oxford’s great cultural institutions, Square Books.Â Â Other notable performers on Thacker Mountain Live include writers Larry Brown, William Gay, and Beth Ann Fennelly, who all do readings from their own work.
Make ‘Em Dance: The Hackberry Ramblers’ Story will be screened at the Oxford
Film Festival on Friday, June 18, at 4:30 PM at Two Stick, 1007 Harrison
Avenue, 662 – 236-6639.The film aired nationally during January, 2004, on the PBS series Independent Lens ; please scroll down for additional, detailed information.
HACKBERRY RAMBLERS DOCUMENTARY TO AIR NATIONALLY ON PBS!
Next week, television viewers around America can pull up a chair for the in-depth documentary Make ‘Em Dance: The Hackberry Ramblers Story. (Most PBS stations will air Make ‘Em Dance on Tuesday, January 13, with some exceptions; check local listings or visit pbs.org/independentlens/makethemdance.)
The one-hour film, which will air as part of the series Independent Lens, was directed by John Whitehead. It traces the Ramblers’ rollicking seven-decade career from the group’s formation in the tiny town of Hackberry, Louisiana, during the depths of the Depression, up through their Grammy nomination for the 1997 album Deep Water (on the Hot Biscuits label), and footage from recent performances on MTV and in Europe.
Founded in 1933 by Luderin Darbone and Edwin Duhon – the two spry gentlemen, now in their nineties, who still lead the band today – The Hackberry Ramblers brought many important innovations to the music of South Louisiana. They were the first band to combine Cajun music, sung in French, with Anglo-American country music, sung in English; over time, they also incorporated elements of jazz, blues, rockabilly and swamp pop. In addition, the Ramblers were the first band to use electronic amplification in southwest Louisiana, performing through a Sears-Roebuck “public address” system. Because few rural nightspots had electricity back then, the P.A. was often powered by Luderin Darbone’s idling Model-A Ford. Then, as now, The Hackberry Ramblers had one goal: make ‘em dance!
More than a film about music and musicians, Make ‘Em Dance chronicles the seventy-year friendship of Darbone and Duhon – who make quite an unlikely “odd couple” – and their varied interactions with band-mates Glen Croker, Johnny Faulk, and Ben Sandmel. There are poignant scenes, band tiffs, and Spinal Tap moments. There are historic photos from the Ramblers’ earliest days, eight millimeter film from a California concert in 1965, and contemporary footage from the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the Grand Ole Opry (both on stage and backstage), and a backyard crawfish boil in the band’s hometown of Lake Charles, Louisiana. There are guest appearance by band buddies and musical collaborators Marcia Ball, Rodney Crowell, Michael Doucet and Jimmie Dale Gilmore; expert commentaries by folklorists Barry Ancelet, Ann Savoy, and Nick Spitzer. Outlaw-country icon Billy Joe Shaver is the principal narrator, and there is even a cameo appearance by New Orleans R&B singer Ernie K-Doe.
Make ‘Em Dance: The Hackberry Ramblers’ Story is fun and often funny, informative and insightful, rowdy yet sentimental, visually rich, and full of great music. It goes inside one of America’s most distinctive ethnic enclaves while celebrating the universal joys and quirks of human nature. And it will make you want to dance, too!
On Sunday, January 11, two events in New Orleans will celebrate the national broadcast of Make ‘Em Dance. At 2 PM there will be a debut screening at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art www.ogdenmuseum.org including a brief performance by The Hackberry Ramblers and Q & A with director John Whitehead. Then at 5 PM, the Ramblers will perform at Tipitina’s www.tipitinas.com.
The Executive Producers of Make ‘Em Dance are Gabrielle Vetter, and Peggy Scott Laborde, for WYES-TV. Funding was provided by: Vetter Communications Corporation; The National Endowment for the Arts; The Louisiana Division of the Arts; The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Foundation; The Arts and Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana. Make ‘Em Dance was produced in association with WYES-TV, New Orleans; produced by Fretless Pictures, which is solely responsible for its content; and presented by the Independent Television Service (ITVS), with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
THE HACKBERRY RAMBLERS RETURN TO FRANCE FOR FESTIVAL PERFORMANCES AND THEIR DOCUMENTARY DEBUT!
2003 has been a banner year for The Hackberry Ramblers. The band kicked off its seventieth anniversary with a feature story on NBC’s Today Show that aired on February 21. Following rave-review spring appearances at the French Quarter Festival and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, July finds the Ramblers returning to France to for the Festival des Nuits Cajun et Zydeco de Saulieu and the Louisiana Film Festival in Saulieu, Burgundy ( www.bayouprod.com ).
On Thursday, July 31, at 9:00 PM, this multi-media, music-and-film event will present the world premier of Make ‘Em Dance! The Hackberry Ramblers’ Story. Directed by John Whitehead of Saint Paul, MN — whose previous films include: Wannabe: Life and Death in a Small Town Gang — Make ‘Em Dance! traces the Ramblers’ saga from the early 1930s through today’s excitement and accolades. Make ‘Em Dance! combines historic footage and photographs with recent performances including the Grand Ole Opry, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and a backyard crawfish boil, along with some of the real-life, Spinal Tap moments that are universal among all traveling bands. In addition there are guest performances by band buddies Marcia Ball, Rodney Crowell, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, with narration by Billy Joe Shaver.
John Whitehead will discuss Make ‘Em Dance! after the debut screening, followed by a brief performance by the Ramblers. But you don’t need to hop a plane to France to see this fine film. Make ‘Em Dance! will air nationally on PBS, on the network’s critically acclaimed Independent Lens series. The exact air date, anticipated for later this year or early in 2004, will be announced soon. For additional information on Make ‘Em Dance!, please visit www.itvs.org and www.vettercommunications.com. Make ‘Em Dance! was produced by Fretless Pictures in association with WYES-TV, New Orleans, and the Vetter Communications Corporation of Baton Rouge, LA.
Then on Friday, August 1st, The Hackberry Ramblers will headline the Festival des Nuits des Cajun et Zydeco de Saulieu with a full-length concert performance. (The band appears thanks to support from The Fund for U.S. Artists at International Festivals and Exhibitions.) If last year’s tumultuous response in Craponne-sur-Arzon is any indication, this year’s return to France should be memorable. Additional performance dates for 2003 include the Tall Stacks Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Saturday, October 18th ( www.tallstacks.com).