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Take Effect Review of "Live in Asheville" A North Carolina quartet with a penchant for bluegrass, swing and gypsy jazz sounds, this live disc brings 5-string banjo (Brett Setzer), flat-top guitar (Shannon Leasure), mandolin (Gabriel Wiseman) and string bass (Mike Ramsey) to a very lively and really fun listen. “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” starts the music with much warm string interaction, as radiant vocal harmonies fuel the timeless bluegrass sounds, and “Putting In Real Light” follows with flowing melodies, where chunky banjo and vivid storytelling are much appreciated. Further into the set, “Welcome To New York” is an instrumental affair, where the swift plucking and strong attention melody won’t go unnoticed, as is the extremely dynamic and rich “The Jacktown Shakedown”, which might be the best tune present. Approaching the end, “Sweet Sue, Just You” is indeed a sweet tune that’s quite charming, emotive and playful, while “Tickle The Tom Cat’s Tail” brings the strengths of all the players into a very memorable bluegrass, jazz, swing hybrid. Recorded live around one microphone at the Isis Music Hall in Asheville NC on January 22nd, 2022, this is an experience free from overdubs, redos, or studio magic, and instead focuses on organic, sincere music that makes you want to see them live yourself.
Bluegrass Situation Magazine: Good Times in Western North Carolina By Kara Martinez Bachman The JackTown Ramblers aren’t limited to bluegrass. Yeah, they pick out tradition like the best of ‘em, but they also deliver moments that sway well off the beaten path. “One of the things that makes our band a little different is that we mix in some swing, some gypsy jazz, some David Grisman kind of stuff,” explained JackTown Ramblers lead vocalist and mandolin player, Gabriel Wiseman. That flexibility is on display in the release of “Live in Asheville,” which showcases the band’s energy and attitude. It also stands as a tribute to a beloved venue in their home region of western North Carolina. It’s a 14-track live album recorded at the Isis Music Hall in Asheville, featuring “no overdubs, redos, or studio magic…just real people playing real music.” “Isis closed January first. It was legendary,” Wiseman explained. “We kinda put that out as an homage to them.” They recently dropped a single recorded at the Music Hall, titled “Little Maggie.” “We’ve been getting a lot of radio play out of it, which is nice,” Wiseman said. The band tours mostly regionally, in North Carolina, Tennessee and South Carolina. They love what they do, but he explained they prefer having life balance as musicians. Last year, they played 57 dates and this year, have a similar number scheduled so far for 2023. It sounds as if this level of touring is just about right for Wiseman and his bandmates. “We wanna be at home most nights,” he confessed, stating a desire most touring musicians will appreciate. As is the case with many bluegrass musicians, Wiseman picked up his interest in performing from his family members, many of whom were musicians. “My dad is David Wiseman…he’s a great fiddle and mandolin player,” he said. Other kin include Lula Belle and Scotty Wiseman, and the late Billy Constable. “I grew up listening to it, and hearing it in my living room,” he said. “I picked up mandolin at age 19, and I just got bit by the bug super bad.” In addition to Wiseman, the JackTown Ramblers roster include: Shannon Leasure (guitar and vocals); Mike Ramsey (bass and vocals); and Brett Setzer (banjo and vocals). While not yet at work on their next release, Wiseman seems to already know where they’ll point their compass when choosing the next leg of the JackTown Ramblers journey. “We’re kicking around the idea of an instrumental album,” he revealed. “We’ll probably start working on something this year.” Wiseman said another thing they look forward to are the festivals they’re booked for this spring. He specifically mentioned the SpringSkunk Music Fest, which happens May 11 through 14 in Greer, South Carolina. Wiseman said he likes it because it features “eclectic kinds of music.” “I like playing at a festival that’s not just bluegrass,” he added. Another thing he said he really loves are the people involved with roots genres. For him, it’s not just about the music. There’s more to it. “To me, with bluegrass… we jam together…we share information… it’s such a great community.” For Wiseman, the end goal is having fun; it’s what he feels sets the JackTown Ramblers apart. It’s not too serious. At gigs, they’re not afraid to joke, and they don’t take themselves too seriously. For instance, when he sees people he recognizes in the crowd, he takes a humble, self-deprecating approach that surely gets a laugh. “We always tease them, and say, ‘your cable must be out again, because you’re back here at a show.’” In the end, the band’s philosophy is as simple as can be. “If we can have a good time,” Wiseman summarized, “hopefully they have a good time, too.”
“As I sit here enjoying the new release by my pals, The JackTown Ramblers, it hits home. It’s heartfelt music, delivered in an honest way, that is true to our southern Appalachian heritage. It’s good clean picking, fun, energetic music that you will be tapping your toes to. Enjoy!! I sure did.”
Darren Nicholson Balsam Range
"Long a fan of the superb mandolin stylings of Gabriel Wiseman, his sense of taste, timing and tone--the three essential Ts--is equally shared by his bandmates in The Jacktown Ramblers and their marvelous new album entitled "Ramblin On." A most enjoyable and musically satisfying listen of mostly mainstream bluegrass with a dip or two into some infectious swing. Very highly recommended!"
-- Mandolin Cafe
The JackTown Ramblers’ new release Ramblin’ On highlights the passion, breadth and inherent musicality of the seasoned musicians who make up this well-oiled and strong-sounding 4-piece bluegrass band. Featuring a delightful mix of the old and new, the scope of songs and the talents of the members keep the listener’s interest and showcase the musicians in good stead. The classic combination of 5-string banjo (Brett Setzer), flat-top guitar (Shannon Leasure), mandolin (Gabriel Wiseman) and string bass (Mike Ramsey), all deftly played and well-balanced in the mix, delivers the generous 10-song repertoire in fine form. Exhibiting traits from the 2nd and 3rd generational mix, the band’s formidable debut effort features material and a delivery style which recalls the timeless wellspring of IIIrd Tyme Out, The Lonesome River Band and J.D. Crowe & The New South. Home Sweet Home Revisited will surely draw the inevitable comparison to the benchmark version recorded decades ago on RR0044, and here The Ramblers breathe new life into the classic song, with a lovely mandolin intro, deft guitar work and a tight vocal harmony, all encased in a sparse, laid-back framework. Robbie Robertson’s Ophelia, a song tailor-made for bluegrass treatment, is given a hearty go by the band, with a perfect banjo intro. Gabriel Wiseman sings the song in fine fashion and it would be of little wonder if more bands didn’t bring this tune into the fold after hearing The Ramblers’ strong take. Cedar Hill, the Grisman mandolin tour-de-force, is given solid treatment by all, with a swift, swing-backed guitar rhythm along with lovely lead lines; it even gets the modulation-to-A up-lift at the end. The catchy banjo tune Raindrops, composed by Brett Setzer, features well-played solos by both Brett and Gabe. Typsy Gypsy, harkening back to the days of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, is given a personalized approach by all, with mandolin, guitar and banjo contributing scintillating solos, all anchored by a solid bass line. On the songwriter front, Gabe contributes the up-tempo lost love tome Another Girl Left Crying, a song with a modern chord progression that truly moves along. On the trad front, the Jimmie Davis classic Shackles and Chains is given a nice duet treatment and rounding out the program, She’s Gone Gone Gone brings the band full-circle to a New South-era vibe. This release introduces The JackTown Ramblers to the larger bluegrass audience in a strong, pleasing way and will surely be a joy to their burgeoning fan-base. Alan Niederland
It's my pleasure to announce that one of my favorite bluegrass bands is about to release a self produced live recording. Yes – all live! Four musicians around one microphone up on stage. No overdubs, no tracking, no second chance. Just the way music was meant to be performed. Especially bluegrass music. And you can hear it right from the start that the Ramblers feel right at home. They're in their element. Maybe it's because we all have been missing live shows so very much. But this recording really hits the spot. With the release of their album 'Ramblin' On' last year this band set a high mark. With a great collection of songs, including well written original material, and a bandwidth of stylistic capabilities from swing and gypsy jazz over classic country and string band, to full-on hard driven bluegrass. So, it’s no surprise this is what you get from their live show and on this live recording. The record was recorded at the iconic Isis Music Hall in Asheville NC on January 22nd this year. The band is comprised of Gabriel Wiseman on mandolin and vocals, Mike Ramsey bass and vocals, Shannon Leasure playing guitar and vocals and Brett Setzer on banjo and vocals. But like always it's not about the single musicians but the sum and the alchemy of an ensemble. If there is any group of musicians that deserve the designation of “band” then it's The JackTown Ramblers. This set definitely provides three pillars with Bob Dylan's 'You Ain't Goin' Nowhere', Billy Joe Shaver's 'Georgia On A Fast Train' and John Hartford's 'Howard Hughes' Blues' from the milestone album Morning Bugle. And the whole well balanced performance ends with Lonzo & Oscar's 'Tickle The Tom Cat's Tail' – awesome. This band is mature and experienced on one hand but still young, fresh and curious on the other. You can hear it in every single track, how they continually amaze and surprise one another, all for the sake of the ensemble's production. And you certainly can feel the fun that these guys have pouring all their hearts into their show. They manage to give classic George Strait songs their own distinctive note, as well as Django Reinhardt's 'Sweet Sue'. Even the gospel tune 'Paul And Silas' by The Stanley Brothers from Good Old Camp Meeting Songs from 1962 is given new life. The JackTown Ramblers animate these vintage tunes with their own artistic mastery. Make sure to check out this band. Try to catch them live, buy their record Ramblin' On and get your hands and ears on this new milestone: The JackTown Ramblers Live In Asheville! Severin Theinert Uncut Grass
JTR Bio: The JackTown Rambles are a 4-piece American Bluegrass, Swing & Gypsy Jazz band from Morganton, North Carolina. The band formed in 2019 from a collection of “acoustic ramblers” who met through mutual friends and musical interests. Collectively, they just wanted to do something a little different with their music by melding together traditional bluegrass with sprinkles of swingy feeling tunes, band originals and some gypsy jazz type material just for fun. Their unique brand of entertainment fuses solid improvisational instrument leads and traditional bluegrass harmonies with a dose of ignorance in their live sets and a slick delivery of material. Hailed as 'one of the busiest working bands in western North Carolina' by livemusicasheville.com, The JackTown Rambles have performed over 400 shows, been featured in Bold Life Magazine, Blueridge Now, The Bluegrass Standard and others publications, released 2 full length albums, (one live) and several singles. "The JackTown Ramblers highlight the passion, breadth and inherent musicality of the seasoned musicians who make up this well-oiled and strong-sounding 4-piece bluegrass band. Featuring a delightful mix of the old and new, the scope of songs and the talents of the members keep the listener’s interest and showcase the musicians in good stead. The classic combination of 5-string banjo (Brett Setzer), flat-top guitar (Shannon Leasure), mandolin (Gabriel Wiseman) and string bass (Mike Street), all deftly played and well-balanced in fine form." Alan Neiderland