The Red Stick Ramblers

Made in the Shade

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Louisiana's Red Stick Ramblers, led by the twin fiddle attack of Kevin Wimmer and Linzay Young, are a versatile little modern string band as likely to burst into some Hot Club jazz as they are to update some classic Cajun 2-step into a chooglin' bit of swamp blues. On Made in the Shade, their fourth album and first for Sugar Hill Records, they do both of these things and more, employing everything from flamenco to Creole strains in their musical gumbo, a mix the band calls "Cajun gypsy swing." Warmly recorded (Dirk Powell handled most of the production work) and full of an easy, joyous ambiance, Made in the Shade's 12 tracks show a band that is at once traditional and experimental (often within the same song) and expert at fusing the two without sounding like they've created some sort of 2-step Frankenwaltz in the process. From the first track, the title tune "Made in the Shade," a gliding, easy rolling account of distilling corn mash, to the final one, "The Smeckled Suite," an Eastern-sounding flamenco tango jazz stew, the Ramblers deliver a delightful set of swamp-tinged vernacular roots music. Other highlights include a loose-as-a-goose Cajun blues called "Katrina" (named after the 2005 late summer storm that nearly wiped New Orleans off the map), a cover of Bob Wills' "Don't Cry, Baby," and a rollicking version of Clifton Chenier's classic zydeco stomp "Hot Tamale Baby." A wonderful album by a wonderful band.

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