Hackberry Ramblers

Deep Water

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The Hackberry Ramblers are among the very few popular musicians who seem to be reaching their peak well past Social Security age. Ramblers mainstay Luderin Darbone was in his early 80s when this was recorded, and the rest of the six-piece group (except for youthful drummer Ben Sandmel) doesn't look much younger, yet they continue to play with more exuberance than almost any act of any style or age. Buying this disc is not, as is often the case when buying recent efforts by old-time legends, an act of charity. It's a good set that encompasses Western swing, boogie, blues, French Cajun, and even a bit of rock (in the cover of "Proud Mary"), performed with a spontaneity that veers toward sloppiness without falling into carelessness. This stuff has diversity and eclecticism, two qualities which are often underemployed, even ignored, by Cajun musicians in the studio. There are guest shots by Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Rodney Crowell, Marcia Ball, and Michael Doucet, but they really don't add or subtract anything of note. The main show is the Ramblers themselves, playing with an utter lack of self-consciousness, as if they're performing at the neighborhood barbecue, not in front of studio mikes.

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