Music

The Red Stick Ramblers: Made in the Shade

Here's to a foot-tappin', energetic standout. The Red Stick Ramblers offer you a drink and tug you onto the dance floor.


The Red Stick Ramblers

Made in the Shade

Label: Sugar Hill
US Release Date: 2007-09-11
UK Release Date: 2007-09-10
Amazon
iTunes

Here's to Made in the Shade, a foot-tappin', energetic standout by the Red Stick Ramblers. Midway through the opening title track, lead vocalist Linzay Young confirms what you already know -- you are in a place where Texas swing, Cajun music, and N'awlins jazz mix and mingle ("it comes from Opelousas / and it's made in the shade"). When he adds that "chances are / my back pocket's got a little thirst aid", you have no doubt that beverage is white lightnin'. The Red Stick Ramblers offer you a drink and tug you onto the dance floor.

In the tracks that follow, the band delves deeper into its Cajun roots. It introduces an accordion and French lyrics to mask murderously dark details in original ballad "Les Oiseaux Vont Chanter", and later returns to two sprightly Cajun covers, which offer the album's most upbeat, danceable, and lively tunes. Fiddler Kevin Wimmer studied under late Cajun legend Dewey Balfa and well-showcases his lessons here. Meanwhile, the influence of like-minded peers Hot Club of Cowtown -- who effortlessly merged Bob Wills' Texas swing and Django Reinhardt's gypsy jazz -- shows up on "Some of These Days", "The Cowboy Song", and the Wills cover "Don't Cry, Baby".

Made in the Shade was recorded and co-produced by old-time music luminary Dirk Powell, who also happens to be Balfa's son-in-law. Though Powell served in Cajun traditionalists Balfa Toujours with Wimmer and his wife, it is his old-time influence that's most prominent on "Katrina", a grittily upbeat fiddle and frailed banjo lament that damns the hurricane. The album also benefits from Powell's warm and sprightly recording, as he eschews the rawer recording techniques he employs on old-time releases.

The syncopated dance strut of Clifton Chenier's "Hot Tamale Baby" fits the group like a glove and creates a formidable party atmosphere. Despite the success of this and five other covers across 12 songs, Made in the Shade notably demonstrates the group's increasing comfort with their own songwriting.

The album closes with an original -- a ten-minute instrumental called "The Smeckled Suite" that is likely the most boundary-pushing, avant-garde track that Sugar Hill Records has recently released. A jazzily free solo guitar line leads into a skeletal and anticipatory march, which melds into an eerie waltz before bursting into a bustling, fiddle-led, amped-up two-step. It's both heady and danceable.

Aside from the mood diversion of this last track, the album is sequenced superbly, much like one of the Rambler's live shows. It is meant to create a festive atmosphere, one that celebrates a variety of enjoyable (and very danceable) roots music. If this five-piece isn't scheduled to enliven your town soon, you can't go wrong with Made in the Shade.

8

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image