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TV show posted on YouTube 9/5/13!
the Twisted Laurel Grows, 1976
The program starts with Lelly Mae Ledford ("Pretty Polly"). Second on the program is Tommy Jarrell with Barry and Sharon Poss ("Soldier's Joy," "Drunken Hiccups"). The Red Clay Ramblers close the show with "Hobo's Last Letter" and "Where the Twisted Laurel Grows." The latter song was chosen to be the title of the new TV show and is an early example of a music video with scenes of the band mixed in with a story scenes set West Virginia.
Then Mike's friend and Rambler fan Elva Bishop passed along an article and interview "The Ramblers Return." Back from Africa, the Red Clay Ramblers' Tommy Thompson talks with Joe Vanderford in Spectator Magazine, Nov 19, 1981.
And Elva also passed along calendars and posters from her archive that Mike has also posted on his website.
1984 Rhythm Alley gig posters
(click on the pic for larger version)
Bill Hicks' daughter, Anna, went downtown in Durham in 2010 and found her dad's picture displayed on a large banner commemorating the founding of the Red Clay Ramblers from the old-time revival in the Hollow Rock area in 1972. Celebrate!
Text on the LEFT pic says: "Tommy Thompson, Mike Craver, Jim Watson, and Bill Hicks perform at the Carter Family Memorial Music Center in southwest Virginia in the mid-1970s. Photo by Susanne Anderson." This picture was originally published in The Smithsonian in 1976.
Godfrey Daniels, Bethlehem PA ~1980
Cindy Dinsmore posted this
pic on her Facebook page, and Mike forwarded it for us.
(October 12, 2010) Tommy Thompson of St. Albans. Born and raised in St. Albans, Thompson first heard many of the old jazz players and was introduced to Cajun music during a stint as a Coast Guard officer in New Orleans. He entered the graduate program in philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1963 where he divided his time between the five-string banjo and academia. In 1971, he took first place at the prestigious World Champion Old Time Banjo contest in Union Grove, NC. That same year, he co-founded the original Red Clay Ramblers, which he anchored for 22 years. Thompson died in 2003.
The latest inductees into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame are seven musicians who have made lasting contributions to American music. Besides Tommy Thompson, inductees includ Kathy Mattea and Connie Smith. The formal ceremony will take place in October, 2011, at the state Culture Center.
26 NOV 2008 Chapel Hill
The Cave—If you're lucky enough to squeeze underground and into The Cave tonight, you'll witness perhaps the state's most beloved and long-lasting musical institution as it continues to chart an unlikely chapter in our collective history. Young string band veterans Tommy Thompson, Jim Watson and Bill Hicks inaugurated their run as Red Clay Ramblers in 1972, adding Mike Craver a year later. The intervening 35 years have brought multiple lineup changes, multimedia experiments, solo albums, duo albums, three international tours sponsored by the State Department, several off-Broadway hits, the revival of one such hit for a new generation, performances at the 1st and 25th Eno festivals, two Carter family funerals, and the death of co-founder Thompson in 2003. Watson, Hicks and Craver roll on several times a year, their preservation of old-time tunes and their own material assisted now by Joe Newberry. —Grayson Currin
Rounder re-issued the Red Clay Ramblers HARD TIMES and CHUCKIN' THE FRIZZ albums as limited edition CDs as part of their Rounder Archive series.
CHUCKIN' THE FRIZZ, recorded live at the Cat's Cradle in 1979, is considered by many to be the original line-up's finest release. We have a special page for the honors, accolades, reviews and souvenirs for Frizz. Read it and get excited with us!
"Red Clay Ramblers, Chuckin' the Frizz -- Any true Ramblers fan knows that this all-too-rare release marks the band's finest hour on record, a well-produced live recording of the rollicking 1979 lineup performing at the old, tinier Cat's Cradle. This is a superior string band at the height of its powers, spinning out traditionals and originals with inspired, infectious fervor." [more]
The Dairy Queen pig proclaims the starting point of the Crooked Road in Rocky Mount, VA, also home of the Red Clay Restaurant. (Click on the pics for larger views.)
Producers: Les Blank, Alice Gerrard, and Cece Conway. 1983 documentary on old-time legend Tommy Jarrell includes a scene of him playing with the Red Clay Ramblers and an brief interview with Bill Hicks. The DVD also includes short films "Julie: Old Time Tales of the Blue Ridge" (1991) and "My Old Fiddle: A Visit with Tommy Jarrell in the Blue Ridge" (1994)
* * 17 * *
Thanks for the privilege, gentlemen...since March, 1999
|Tommy Thompson is included on the recently released four-CD, one-DVD Sugar Hill Records: A Retrospective. "The late Tommy Thompson, backed by the Red Clay Ramblers, provides the set's most moving moment with "Way Long Timey Ago," a selection from Daddies Sing Goodnight: A Father's Collection of Sleepytime Songs." Read more from Rick Cornell in The Independent Weekly.
The 2006 Carter Family Memorial Festival & Craft Show featured our Ramblers on the fan and the program. The Red Clay Ramblers appear with Janette Carter in a pic taken by Cece Conway back about 1976 or so. The Ramblers made their first appearance at the Carter Store in 1974 (see Smithsonian article). Check out all the Carter Family Connections with our Ramblers -- memoirs, pictures, music. Click on the fan and program for larger views or visit this page.
VERSION IS HERE!
Meeting in the Air
Songs of the Carter Family
performed by Jim Watson, Mike Craver, & Tommy Thompson
Meeting in the Air on CD is here! Fans can retire their well-worn LPs and get a new CD copy directly from Mike Craver's website. Mike is posting all the details of the release on his Meeting in the Air page.
Linen, August/September 2005 reviewed by Duck Baker, London, England
Can 25 years really have passed since this record was made? Has Tommy Thompson really, truly gone on, perhaps to sing his parts with Sara, Maybelle and A.P.? Well, we have to believe it, apparently, which makes the reissue of Meeting in the Air that much more welcome. When it first appeared, everyone agreed that this was a great record. Now it seems something more that that, a classic.
* * * * 4 Stars! Meeting in the Air reviewed by Jack Bernhardt, RALEIGH NEWS AND OBSERVER, 8/15/04
In 1980, Jim Watson, Tommy Thompson, and Mike Craver – original members of Chapel Hill’s Red Clay Ramblers - made a critically-acclaimed, 14-song collection of Carter Family standards. Called “Meeting in the Air,” this splendid recording has long been out of print. Now comes a newly released CD version that sounds as fresh and inviting as the vinyl did.
Greenman Review by Gary Whitehouse (scroll down to the second half of the link)
And check Mike's great News page on his site for the latest happenings!
Interview with Jim in the Mandocrucian's Digest in 1989
New chapter in Blurred Time! "A trip with Ralph" - Ramblers open for Ralph Stanley in 1977
a film by Robert Gates
Special Collectors Edition now available!
Tommy Thompson, Bill Hicks, and Eric Olson on stage at Ivydale, WVa in 1972 with many more of the most important traditional musicians of that time
27, 2003 edition of the Durham
Independent had some fine things to say about the Red Clay Ramblers.
We're quoting here from "The past: blues, bluegrass and power pop" by Brian
"In the late '60s and early '70s, there was an area revival in old-time music, which brought fiddling and bluegrass traditions down from the Appalachian mountains. The Hollow Rock String Band formed at the Hollow Rock store between Durham and Chapel Hill; the Fuzzy Mountain String Band followed shortly thereafter. In 1972, banjo master Tommy Thompson and two others formed the Red Clay Ramblers, a legendary string band that mixed traditional and contemporary compositions for heel-stomping, toe-tapping national success (they even took their show to Broadway). Still around in various incarnations, individual members of the "Blurs," (a fan nickname for the Ramblers) have gone on to dozens of side projects and, in the process, have created a fearsome and thriving scene in and of themselves."And later in the article, the Red Clay Ramblers' Chuckin' the Frizz was chosen as one of a small group of essential local recordings. Here's what they said:
"Red Clay Ramblers, Chuckin' the Frizz -- Any true Ramblers fan knows that this all-too-rare release marks the band's finest hour on record, a well-produced live recording of the rollicking 1979 lineup performing at the old, tinier Cat's Cradle. This is a superior string band at the height of its powers, spinning out traditionals and originals with inspired, infectious fervor."Can we get an "Amen, brother!"? (See above -- Rounder released Chuckin' the Frizz on CD!) And for more on Frizz, check out our new Frizz page with a review by Eugene Chadbourne!
you won't want to miss!
Check the first page of our Photo Album for very early RCR pictures - Ivydale 1972 and a 1973 wedding gig. New ones added all through the Photo Album!
New Chuckin' the Frizz pages! Rounder re-released Frizz on CD in the fall of 2006. We've beefed up the sparse book that comes with the CD.
Thanks to Libby Hicks generously mailing us all of Bill's scrapbooks, you'll see lots of new souvenirs on the site. Stir up some great old memories with these new additions. We've added a posters section for national gigs, Diamond Studs, and international gigs. Then read what might be the best review ever written of a Red Clay Ramblers show from The Folk Life, March 1977, "The Red Clay Ramblers at Godfrey Daniels." You'll believe you were there. Best quote: "Mercy!"
site here is eleven years old. By the size of it, you'd think we'd
told the whole story. But a casual eBay magazine purchase yielded
important insights lacking before. In Option Music Alternatives "Going
Through Stages: the Many Careers of the Red Clay Ramblers," (March/April,
1988) Tommy Thompson reveals how the band attracted Sam Shepard's interest
and what it was like to collaborate with him. Roger Miller sampled
the band, but spit them back out. But Eugene Chadbourne not only
recorded with RCR, but they also played at his wedding. If that's
not enough, Tommy also delves into RCR's pushing the limits of tradtional
Ever wonder if the Red Clay Ramblers had proof of being "gods in Johnson City"? How about four encores at the Down Home after the hour the beer stopped! Read the evidence in this 1977 Pickin' review and interview.
Santa Mike Craver sends us pics from his scrapbooks. The latest are early Red Clay Ramblers clippings as well as the Winnipeg Folk Festival. Did you know the Red Clay Ramblers were on the soap opera Ryan's Hope? Or that they they did Shakespeare? Go see! And he sent along a couple of 70's concert ads from the Village Voice and the NY Times. The Ramblers were in good company. For a recent look, see Jim's Christmas 2000 pics and a 1997 benefit for Tommy. Browse through the Photo Album for pics from the good ol' days.
click, read, enjoy!
Email for the Ramblers will be forwarded
February 12, 2016