March 30, 2009

Red Stick Ramblers Quitting Music to Travel, Cook Full Time

‘09 Gumbo Release Tour begins in May
“Our music, while good, has always come second,” said Louisiana band

The Red Stick Ramblers, now a touring cooking ensemble, used to make a living playing music. This 2008 video, directed by Tom Krueger, catches the former band playing Made in the Shade, a song containing several cooking references.

LAFAYETTE, LA — The Red Stick Ramblers, a mainstay of countless summer music festivals, will soon stop performing music in order to devote themselves more completely to the promotion of the culinary arts.

The band, which has earned equal acclaim for its music and its frequent all-night camping parties, will continue to tour on a full time basis and will still host its Black Pot Festival and Cook-Off in October in Lafayette.

Traditionally, touring bands such as the Red Stick Ramblers have earned a living by releasing new CD’s on a regular basis, each time hitting the road to promote their music through an intensive performance schedule. For such independent artists, CD sales at live shows provide a critical revenue stream.

The Ramblers’ new touring concept crystallized during the group’s last trip to the recording studio for Sugar Hill Records.

“We were in the studio this winter cutting an album with Gary Paczosa, our producer, but we spent a lot of the time just cooking, hanging out and eating,” said bassist Eric Frey.

“All week in the studio Linzay was obsessing about this new gumbo recipe he’d invented. In the end, it was Paczosa who was like, ‘F—k the CD, you guys should just release this gumbo,’” said guitarist Chas Justus, who is now independently wealthy as a result of producing the hit recording Christine Balfa Plays The Triangle (Valcour Records, 2008).

“All of us just kinda dropped our spoons and looked at each other like, ‘Wait a second!’” said Linzay Young, the band’s head chef and former fiddler.

For the last several years, the Ramblers’ extensive performance obligations have often conflicted with the band’s large-scale cooking projects.

“At a festival, Linzay can’t even start prepping dinner until the Ramblers’ last set ends. Well, if that’s after midnight dinner won’t be ready until four in the morning at the earliest,” said fiddler and non-vegetarian Stephanie Coleman.

“By that time the whole campsite is so drunk that not only can people not fully appreciate the food, a lot of them wake up and can’t remember eating it at all,” added Ms. Coleman.

“I’m good at the fiddle, and I can sing, but quite honestly, that is a waste of my talent,” said Young.

For their upcoming gumbo-release tour, which begins on May 3 at New Orleans JazzFest, each Red Stick Ramblers performance will consist of the band’s cooking delicious Cajun food from scratch in front of a live audience. The band will also provide brief musical interludes to pass the time while the food cooks.

At the end of the show, each audience member can buy a large serving of gumbo for $15, roughly the cost of a CD.

“We love playing music, and it’s fun, but really that’s such a small part of what we’re all about,” said Frey.

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  20. Colin McCaffrey on April 20th, 2009 5:59 pm

    Linsay’s sauce is better than his voice. It may be hard to believe a sauce can be that good.

  21. Megan Romer on April 8th, 2009 10:47 am

    I have good sources that tell me that Kevin Wimmer cannot cook, and will unfortunately be leaving the band as a result. If anyone knows of any stringbands that are giving up music to tour as professional Scrabble players, he’s definitely looking for work.

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  23. Rosalind Gnatt on April 2nd, 2009 8:59 am

    I’m relieved to learn the Ramblers are turning their phenomenal talent to its best use. I mean, when I think of the choice between hanging out at the Whirlybird bar, while folks jam in the snug, waiting for Linzay’s gumbo to cook, or schlepping down to Joe’s Pub, paying a cover charge to hear the Sticks, then waiting for a mediocre $15 burger, well, dang Lindzay – I’ll buy that gumbo any day!
    And, by the way, as much as the gumbo deserves praise, the band’s talent with Spam (the stuff that looks like Silly Putty but stinks worse) is unbelievable.

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