Published Wed, Sep 19, 2012 5:44 am Dateline
The Red Clay Ramblers, celebrating their 40th year as an ongoing musical force and ambassadors of North Carolinian string band music, will perform this Friday at Stuart's Opera House in Nelsonville, Ohio.
They began as a trio in 1972, and after numerous personnel changes, coalesced into their current lineup in 1987.
The Ramblers' repertoire reflects their old-time roots as well as their interest in bluegrass, country, New Orleans jazz and rock.
After touring extensively and recording numerous albums in their early years as more or less a traditional string band, The Red Ramblers became involved in the theater as early as 1975 in the off-Broadway production of Diamond Studs.
In 1985, the band worked with playwright Sam Shepard on another off-Broadway production, Lie of the Mind.
That working relationship continued with the band scoring two soundtracks for Shepard's films Far North and Silent Tongue. The band also appeared in the latter film as period musicians.
Through their work in Silent Tongue, they met clowns Bill Irwin and David Shiner, which led to another collaboration, Fool Moon. That production had three successful runs on Broadway from 1993 to 1998 and won the band a prestigious Tony Award.
Over the years, the Ramblers have performed with such luminaries as Shawn Colvin (who was a member for a year), Ralph Stanley, Randy Newman and Michelle Shocked.
They've also appeared on A Prairie Home Companion on numerous occasions, as well as NPR's Mountain Stage and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Today, the Red Clay Ramblers continue to tour the country, carrying their brand of string band music far and wide.
Friday's show time is 8 p.m. Visit www.stuartsoperahouse.org for tickets and information.