The Muddy Basin Ramblers
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The Muddy Basin Ramblers

Band Blues Americana

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"Muddy Basin Ramblers @ Huashan Culture Park"

"Saturday the 3rd of November saw David Chen and the Muddy Basin Ramblers launching their debut CD at the Huashan Culture Park in Taipei. A crowd of 300 or so people packed in to party to Taiwan’s best loved jug band. The band were in fine form and everyone had a great time. Here’s a few photos from the night." - Craig Ferguson Images (Photographer)


"Jam in Yangmingshan to inspire appreciation for the planet"

"Add Taipei's roots-music outfit David Chen and Muddy Basin Ramblers, the Anglers out of Chungli, and Neon and you have one of the better live-act lineups Taipei has seen so far this year." - Taipei Times


"10 Things to Do on 10/10 Weekend"

"The Sunday sees another Hakka favorite Lo Sirong and her band (????????)followed by the inimitable talents of David Chen and the Muddy Basin Ramblers. With their washtub bass, kazzos, washboards, jugs and pots and pans strings and brass the ramblers are an act that really shouldn't be missed." - Taiwan News


"The Muddy Basin Blues"

Like many blues fans, David Chen vividly remembers when he first heard Muddy Waters, the Mississippi guitar man whose raw and gritty sound paved the way for rock 'n' roll.
"I'd never heard anything like it," Chen says. "I didn't know what to make of it. I just liked it."
The song that got him was Long Distance Call. It took him a while to understand the reference to a "mule kickin' in your stall," but he was mesmerized.
"It was his delivery. I could feel the tone of every word he sang and spoke," Chen says. "It was the way he carried emotion in the song. It has this force to it. It's not aggressive. But it's this big voice."
Chen came to Waters backwards, through rock bands like Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. Recently he's gone back even further, to the ragtime sounds of jug music with his band the Muddy Basin Ramblers, who play tomorrow evening at Huashan Culture Park (?????).
The Muddy Basin Ramblers - "Muddy Basin" is for Taipei, which formerly was a muddy basin - formed from a group of friends who used to hang out and jam on a mountain between Muzha and Sindian.
Says Rambler Sandy Murray, who plays the saxophone, ukulele, guitar and mandolin: "David got us together as a band rather than just a bunch of semi-drunk foreigners."
Jug music, which has influenced artists like the Grateful Dead, started in the 1920s as "spasm" jazz in the American south. It was played by people who couldn't always afford real instruments. Guitars and mandolins were made from discarded guitar necks and gourds, combs and wax paper made kazoos, and the beat came from a washtub with a wooden neck.
The washtub bass usually has a single string and is played by standing on one foot with the other on the tub's rim. (Rambler T.C. Lin uses a plastic orange tub, a wooden stick from a hardware store and camping rope.) To get different notes, the staff is pulled back, changing the tension on the string.
At it's essence, jug music is street music, which is one of the attractions for the Ramblers.
In 2002, the Ramblers played one of their first live performances at Taipei's Migration Music Festival. They're regulars at the Hoping for Hoping peace concert and blues festivals in Taipei and Taichung and have a repertoire of more than 70 originals and covers. Seventeen songs are on their eponymous CD, which can be purchased at Bobwundaye (26, Ln 38 Chongde St, Taipei, ??????38?26?). - Taipei Times


Discography

David Chen and The Muddy Basin Ramblers, Self-Titled (2007)
Listen here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/davidchenatmbr

Photos

Bio

Some hear blues, some hear jazz, some hear country, some even call it hillbilly swing. The Muddy Basin Ramblers love to it play it all. They perform the music of the jug bands and string bands from the 1920s and 30s, breathing some fresh attitude into country blues, ragtime and jazz.

Imagine if wandering minstrels in America’s medicine show era wound up in Asia, and you have the spirit of the Ramblers, a group of six US and UK expatriates living in Taipei, Taiwan. The band strives for authenticity in its hot swing and jug band grooves, but the energy of their music draws from life on “Ihla Formosa,” with its vibrant modernism, quaint tradition and carefree attitude that goes hand-in-hand with island life.

The band's draws from a classic repertoire, whether it's delta blues great Charlie Patton, medicine show legend Gus Cannon or Jelly Roll Morton. In addition to swing, traditional jazz and blues, you might hear strains of music from the Pacific Islands, Taiwanese temple music, a Nakashi melody here and there (imported via Japan), and even a little gypsy music.

Anything goes, as long as it makes people smile and move. The Ramblers live to entertain and thrive on making sweet noise using an assortment of string, brass, and "homemade" instruments, which include kazoos, a ceramic jug, a washboard and a washtub bass.

Like any band worth their salt, the Ramblers use geography in their name. The "Muddy Basin" refers to their adopted home and beloved city, tucked within the Taipei Basin.
The band members, who hail from the US and the UK, are long-term expatriates living in Taiwan, veteran travelers and enthusiasts of Chinese language and culture.

The Ramblers thrive on street performances – they never fail to attract and keep a crowd’s attention, with their instruments and jug band verve. And they've played on all kinds of stages --- from festivals and pubs to parties and public parks – and have shared the stage with a wide range of artists: the talented Canadian singer-songwriter Dana Wylie, Taiwanese folk singer and protest music icon Lin Sheng-xiang, Okinawan musician Takashi Hirayasu, and acclaimed American blues artist Nathan James. The Ramblers were also pleased to be Michelle Shocked’s backing band when she played in Taipei in 2005.

At the end of day for the Muddy Basin Ramblers, it's all about a good time and doing what they enjoy most -- adding a unique 21st Century twist to a treasure chest of turn-of-the 20th-century American music, wherever they are.

The band was started in 2002 by vocalist and guitarist David Chen, and includes members Tim Hogan on washboard and percussion; TC Lin on washtub bass, baritone, and trumpet; Sandy Murray on ukulele and tenor and soprano saxophones, Conor Prunty on harmonica, bass, and ukulele; and Will Thelin on jug, tap shoes, kazoos, trombone, and vocals.

The group’s self-titled debut CD, on sale now, is delighting fans and music lovers all over the world. The band hopes you enjoy the show and knows you’ll find “music for what ails you.”