Always Been a Rambler


“THE NEW LOST CITY RAMBLERS: Always Been A Rambler” (DVD: Arhoolie Foundation AFV-204)


Presented by the Arhoolie Foundation, this is a beautifully produced DVD that is successful both as a documentary of a very important and influential group and as a storehouse of good music (there are around 50 full or partial songs & tunes, some in black & white and others in full color). It is certainly a worthy tribute to a band that took rural American music (what Arhoolie’s Chris Strachwitz calls “the real stuff”) to a new generation –not for their own aggrandizement, but because of a wish to share some amazing music that otherwise might have been lost. In addition to playing numerous concerts all over the world in a career that spanned 50 years, the group discovered and introduced such old-time giants as Dock Boggs, Tom Ashley, Roscoe Holcombe and Elizabeth Cotton to an ever growing and appreciative young audience.

This well-edited film includes interviews with Ramblers Mike Seeger, John Cohen, Tom Paley and Tracy Schwarz, as well as other contemporary and later artists; it makes use of some rare film footage from the band’s earliest days and more recent shows, but it also provides musical performances by a lot of other folks from Doc Watson and Tom Ashley to Ricky Skaggs. Especially nice is a song by Sara & Maybelle Carter, and some precious color footage of Cajun artists Dewey & Rodney Balfa. Toward the end of the DVD (which runs over 80 minutes) there are snippets of performances by several of today’s young “old-time” groups including Rayna Gellert, The Carolina Chocolate Drops and the Stairwell Sisters (though it’s kind of amusing and incongruous to see a group of five young ladies singing about “climbing ole SugarHill”!). The quality of both video and sound is excellent on this fine film by Yasha Aginsky.



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