Hackberry Ramblers

Early Recordings: 1935-1950

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Despite the relatively wide time span indicated by the title, actually all but two of these cuts were recorded in a short period of time, from 1935 to 1937 (the remaining pair were done in 1950). For the mid-'30s sessions, the only constant in the Hackberry Ramblers' lineup was violinist and singer Luderin Darbone (who was still in the group when this CD was issued in 2003). Half a dozen different guys take lead vocals (in both English and French) at various points, and three of the tracks were actually issued under the name the Riverside Ramblers. Original guitarist Edwin Duhon was still in the lineup in 2003 too, but actually he doesn't appear on any of the mid-'30s sides, although he's on the 1950 cuts. Not that it matters that much -- this is important early Cajun music, somewhat modernized by 1930s standards in how it's influenced by then-current American popular music, particularly Bob Wills' Western swing. They play with some real high-stepping jazz ragtime feel on the instrumental "Vinton High Society," while their version of the Cajun standard "Jolie Blonde" was the first time the song (previously recorded by Amédé Breaux under the title "Ma Blonde Est Partie") had been issued under that name. The sound quality is uneven, as is unavoidable given the age of the source material and original recording conditions, but is overall quite acceptable. A slightly more conventional country feel comes into play on the 1950 tracks. The package includes good liner notes by Ben Sandmel, who as of its 2003 release was drummer with the still active band.

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