THE HACKBERRY RAMBLERS SPRING INTO 2003 ON NBC’s TODAY SHOW!
Marcia Ball joins in to celebrate the Ramblers’ seventieth anniversary
The Hackberry Ramblers. circa 1959
2003 marks The Hackberry Ramblers’ seventieth anniversary; this legendary Cajun/country band was formed back in 1933, and still features the two founding members — fiddler Luderin Darbone, age 90, and accordionist Edwin Duhon, age 92. Impressed by the Ramblers’ rich history and rambunctious, youthful vitality, Today Show correspondent Bob Dotson traveled to Louisiana recently and spent three days with the band filming interviews and live performances. Dotson’s feature story on The Hackberry Ramblers aired on Today on Friday morning, February 21. As Dotson astutely noted, “These five guys together bring about 400 years of experience to the stage — but they still play with the enthusiasm of a teen-aged garage band!” Live footage for the Today story was shot at the weekly Rendez-vous des Cajuns program in Eunice, LA, and at McGee’s Landing, in the great Atchafalaya swamp outside of Henderson, LA. Marcia Ball made a special guest appearance with the band at McGee’s, as she did on their Grammy-nominated album, Deep Water, released in 1997 by The Hot Biscuits Recording Company (HOTBI-5001.) Marcia’s connection with the Ramblers goes back even further though — her parents used to hire the band to play at dances in Vinton, LA, in the early 1960s. For more info on Marcia, visit www.marciaball.com and www.alligator.com. In addition to Marcia — an honorary Rambler — the band’s line-up also includes guitarist/emcee Glen Croker, bassist Johnny Faulk, and drummer/producer Ben Sandmel.
In other recent news, The Hackberry Ramblers appear on the newly-released CD anthology Thacker Mountain Radio, a live album recorded in the literary confines of Square Books, in Oxford, MS (www.squarebooks.com); such noted authors as Larry Brown and William Gay also appear on the compilation, reading from their work. Arhoolie Records has just released the CD anthology Luderin Darbone’s Hackberry Ramblers: Early Recordings 1935 – 1950 (www.arhoolie.com). In addition, the Ramblers contribute two songs to Boozoo Hoodoo, an upcoming tribute album to the late zydeco accordionist Boozoo Chavis, slated for release in February on the Fuel 2000 label (www.fuel2000.com) . The Hackberry Ramblers will perform at The French Quarter Festival in New Orleans on Saturday, April 12 (www.fqfi.org) and at The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (www.nojazzfest.com) on Thursday, April 24. And 2003 will see the debut of Make ‘Em Dance!, a full-length documentary about the Ramblers, directed by independent film-maker John Whitehead, in association with Vetter Communications of Baton Rouge, LA (www.vettercom.com).
These exciting events come on the heels of a big year for the band in 2002, including debut performances in Holland, France, and at The Newport Folk Festival; a National Heritage Fellowship for Darbone and Duhon, conferred by the National Endowment for the Arts; and feature coverage in USA Today and on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition.
The Hackberry Ramblers. circa 1935
Since 1933, The Hackberry Ramblers have played a toe-tapping blend of Cajun music and western swing, with a dash of Gulf Coast “swamp pop,” rock & roll, and classic country. Seventy years later, the Ramblers are thrilling audiences around the world – from New York’s Bottom Line to The Grand Ole Opry, from The Broken Spoke in Austin to The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, from The Kennedy Center in Washington to The Strawberry Festival at Yosemite, from Cajun-zydeco festivals in Holland to country music extravaganzas in France, to The Newport Folk Festival. This rollicking dance-hall feeling also bursts forth from the Hackberry Ramblers’ Grammy-nominated Deep Water, with guest artists Marcia Ball, Rodney Crowell (www.rodneycrowell.com), Michael Doucet (www.rosebudus.com/beausoleil) and Jimmie Dale Gilmore (www.jimmiegilmore.com).
“The Ramblers sound as spry and spicy as they did back in ’36.” – Rolling Stone
“Think Dylan’s return to Newport after 37 years was historic? For pure musical joy, it couldn’t compare to The Hackberry Ramblers’ first appearance at Newport in their 69-year history.” – The Boston Herald
“These agin’ ragin’ Cajuns are party animals” who “traffic in jubilation.” – Dallas Morning News
“Ils sont irresistibles!” – Big Bear (France)
“These guys just tear into it all with a fervor unmatched by few bands even half, or a third, their age!!” – Goldmine
“One word: hot.” – The New Yorker
“…they refuse to stop playing until the entire room is dancing… they party with an exuberance aggressive enough to shame musicians 40 years younger.” – The Reader (Chicago)
“Expert purveyors of a good time…” – The New York Times
“…the definition of ragged-but-absolutely-right.” – Men’s Journal
Cajun Boogie, the Ramblers’ acclaimed album from 1993, has just been re-released by Hot Biscuits (HOTBI-5002), and is co-released as Volume 10 of the Louisiana Folklife Recording Series (www.crt.state.la.us/folklife) .