For more RCR '70s history,
see also:
Diamond Studs
  first NY play
  has its own
Blurred Time
  Bill Hicks' history 
  of RCR

The Ramblers were on the leading edge of a revival of old-time music.  They not only brought the old songs to a new audience, they also expanded the genre with original work and arrangements.  The articles chronicle their contributions, the scholarship behind the music, and the fun of the performances. 

Some interviews speculate on what the Red Clay Ramblers would become.  Read them now with 20/20 hindsight.  Many of their dreams came true and continue.


Souvenirs of the 

Red Clay Ramblers' Business Card ~1974 (artist: Kerry Blech)
While the whole site chronicles the exploits of the Red Clay Ramblers, the souvenirs from the '70s on this page are meant to be flipped through like the pages of a scrapbook. 
articles ~ flyers ~ calendars ~ posters ~ stories ~ ads ~ notes

Articles, journal entries, pictures


Red Clay Ramblers 1972-1981
1975 Sing Out! (volume 24, number 2) interview and article with the Red Clay Ramblers about the song "Boogerboo" with chords and lyrics

1980 Come for to Sing article "Red Clay Ramblers: Evolution of a String Band"

1980 Frets article "Red Clay Ramblers - String Band Music for the 80s"

1980 Folkscene article: Red Clay Ramblers - Everyone's Favorite String Band

1979 interview with Tommy Thompson on the roots of Rambler music from the live NPR broadcast from Dayton, Ohio.

1978 Folkscene article on the Cambridge (England) Folk Festival including the Red Clay Ramblers

1978 Folkscene concert review: Ralph Stanley and the Red Clay Ramblers

1977 Victory Music Folk and Jazz Review: Ralph Stanley/Red Clay Ramblers Contrast in Style

1977 Pickin' review/interview: they really were gods in Johnson City!

1977 The Folk Life review of the Red Clay Ramblers at Godfrey Daniels, Bethlehem, PA.  Mercy!  You'll believe you are there.

1977 London reviews from Melody Maker and Soundsjerry2.jpg (40398 bytes)

Aquarian cover sketches with Jerry Garcia

"Ramblers' Bill Hicks Lives For the Music" - 1978 interview by Susan Ketchin

"Red Clay Ramblers' Style is Eclectic" - 1978 interview with Bill Hicks

Duke Alumni Profile: Jim Watson '70
"Beating the bluegrass formula: The Red Clay Ramblers make a run at the charts"

1976 Smithsonian article about the Blurs playing at A.P. Carter's Store

1976 Williamsburg VA Bluegrass Festival Flyer with an amazing lineup

1976 A review of the album Twisted Laurel

"Red Clay Ramblers Give Up Broadway for Hillbilly Music" 1975 Raleigh Times interview with Tommy and Bill at the end of  Diamond Studs' NY run

"Red Clay Ramblers Warble at Ark" 1977 Michigan Daily review

Changes 1981-1986
1981 "The Ramblers Return"  Back from Africa, the Red Clay Ramblers' Tommy Thompson talks with Joe Vanderford in Spectator Magazine, Nov 19, 1981.  This article is hosted on Mike Craver's website and is from Elva Bishop's archives.

1986 "New York Ramblers" - interview with Tommy Thompson and Jack Herrick about RCR in Sam Shepard's play "Lie of the Mind"

1986 "Old Time Sounds With Wit, In Taste"

1985 review "Ramblers Return to Cabaret" Indianapolis

1984 On the cover of Bluegrass Unlimited  - lots of history and biographical info

"‘New-timey music’ a Rambler calls it" - 1984 Richmond (Va) Times Dispatch interview with Tommy Thompson

1983 "Red Clay Ramblers spice up ‘Whatzit’ music with humor" Anchorage Daily News

Later articles with a lot to say about the Red Clay Ramblers' history
2014 "Rambling Man" in The American Interest magazine written by Mike Craver: his music and the Red Clay Ramblers during his time.

1992 Carolina Alumni Review "It Was Twenty Years Ago Today"  - RCR at 20

1989 interview with Jim Watson from the Mandocrucian's Digest.  Read his history of RCR and mando techniques

Fiddlin' Bill's article "A Remembrance: In Honor of a Reunion of Middle-Aged Old-Time Musicians at Camp New Hope, Orange County, NC, April, 1989"

1988 Option - RCR and Sam Shepard, Roger Miller, Eugene Chadbourne

Year-by-year chronology


WHERE THE TWISTED LAUREL GROWS is a 1976 TV show posted on YouTube 9/5/13!  The 29-minute program closes with our Red Clay Ramblers preceded by Lelly Mae Ledford and Tommy Jarrell with Barry and Sharon Poss.


A taste of what's available on our poster pages: 1980 concert with EmmyLou Harris and 1977 concert in Romania

emmylou.jpg (42031 bytes)romania.jpg (28936 bytes)


Tour calendars (1976-1981)

NEW! 1980-1982 Cat's Cradle calendars when our Ramblers played.  These are hosted on Mike Craver's site and are from Elva Bishop's archive.

NEW! 1984 Rhythm Alley posters for RCR also hosted on Mike Craver's site and from Elva Bishop's archive.

A year in the Life of a Rambler - Bill's 1977 calendar

Romania Review


New York concert ads 1975

Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion newsletter about RCR 1978

Chuckin' the Frizz handwritten production notes 1979, Eugene Chadbourne review, and 2003 must-have album choice of the Durham Independent

Merchants Lunch handwritten lyrics to the song and the back cover of the LP.

Kerry Blech's memories of the early Blurs


RCR and Theater - overview page

Diamond Studs

Program from Life on the Mississippi (1982)

Photo Collections

6 pages of photos 1972-1986
Ivydale (1972)
Endangered Species (1972)
Diamond Studs (1975)
Fan Nic Siler's RCR pics (1976, 1979, 1980)
Africa Tour (1981)
Album covers and outtakes
2003 Red Clay Ramblers Reunion in Memory of Tommy Thompson (Museum of Art)

Red Clay Ramblers 1972-1981

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February 12, 2016