Q: What’s the largest event you’ve played for? The smallest?
A: Among the largest events we’ve played are outdoor concerts for audiences of a thousand or more. These would include events that are part of the Great American Brass Band Festival in Danville, KY, and public outdoor concerts in Europe. Among the smallest we’ve played is an indoor reception for approximately 30 guests.
Q: The full band has seven musicians in the group. Is the music always loud, and is the sound level problematic for smaller spaces?
A: The music we play CAN be loud, as it often was when this type of music was performed in its heyday earlier in the 20th century. But the volume level can be easily controlled according to the space we play in and the wishes of the client. This is true whether the full band is booked, or one of the smaller versions of the Ramblers (trio, quintet, etc.) as is shown on the “Book the Band” page on our website. Our job is to suit the atmosphere and occasion the client wants for the event or program.
Q: Your website mentions that the styles you play include Ragtime, Traditional Jazz (aka Dixieland), and 1920s music. Do you include all of these styles when you perform, or can you concentrate on only one or two of these musical styles?
A: We can adhere to whatever style or styles a client prefers. We can do an entire program or event featuring ragtime (a la Scott Joplin), Traditional New Orleans and “Chicago” Jazz (a la Louis Armstrong), or 1920s music (a la Hoagy Carmichael, Bix Beiderbecke, Paul Whiteman, etc.). Or we can custom-mix styles as preferred.
Q: Do you play styles of music other than Ragtime, Traditional Jazz, and 1920s music, and if so, what?
A: Yes, definitely. Although our specialty is earlier-20th century American music, we’ve played parties, dances, and other events where we’ve also performed swing music, zydeco, disco, 50s-60s rock, sophisticated jazz, country, etc. Ramblers’ musicians are versatile and widely experienced. We also adjust our wardrobe to the type of atmosphere desired. We’re happy to answer questions about the kind of music you want for your program or event if you’ll contact us (please see the “Contact Us” page on this site). And if you or we feel we can’t suit the musical needs you desire, we’ll refer you to a group that can.
Q: Since there are choices for different sizes of the Ramblers, does it cost less for a smaller group?
A: Generally speaking, yes, this is true.
Q: Do you ever do “educational” types of programs, suitable for schools, libraries, clubs, etc.?
A: Yes. Several members of the group are educators. Some of us are also members of the Kentucky Jazz Repertory Orchestra, a big band that specializes in providing insight and history to the music they perform. One of the Ramblers’ members has been a featured speaker for the Kentucky Humanities Council and has provided well-received lecture-performances throughout the state.
Q: Do you furnish your own sound amplification system?
A: We have sound equipment for small and large performance settings. We’ll work with you on finding what you need. For more intimate settings, we might recommend little or no amplification. For larger venues, we have sufficient equipment of our own. For very large venues with an audience of more than several hundred people, we usually work with in-house/on-site sound people, or with an independent sound amplification service. If independent sound service is needed, you may contract this on your own, or we could do so as part of our fee.
Q: You appear sometimes under the names “The Town Branch Five” and “The Chicago Footwarmers.” Why the different names?
A: This started with the theme of 2105 Great American Brass Band Festival’s “Brass Greats of American Jazz.” Our focus that year was all-out on jazz from the 1920s. In keeping with the spirit of that year’s festival, we adopted the “Town Branch” name as a nom de guerre. For the 2017 festival we were asked to focus on the “Chicago Jazz” style. Both of these names have proved popular for occasions highlighting 1920s jazz; we sometimes are asked to use them to reflect a little extra kick toward recreating the spirit and scene of the 1920s “flapper” era. (If you’ve seen the Downton Abbey PBS series, think of the scenes that featured the Jack Ross Lotus Club Band. Also think of small group recordings from the 20s by Jelly Roll Morton and Duke Ellington.)