From the keypad of blues aficionado Billy Rose comes a look/ see/ hear of Bo Ramsey’s new release, who is looking to play Austin arounds SXSW if all goes well…
If you are familiar with Bo Ramsey’s work, then you know Bo Ramsey’s sound. Instantly recognizable, Bo’s playing is Bluesy Americana. Bo has had close association with numerous artists such as Lucinda Williams, Greg Brown, Charlie Parr, Pieta Brown, Kevin Gordon and many others. On these side projects you can almost always pick out Bo’s guitar work and sometimes you can get glimpses of his valued production. Bo Ramsey is a busy man. That is the main reason that he doesn’t put out his own albums in an expeditious way. When Bo puts out an album of his own work, you know it has been done with great care, thought and vision. That is why I was filled with an almost childlike giddiness when I received Wildwood Calling in the mail. On this new release, his first album full of instrumentals, it is music that provides the back-drop for life in a slow moving but sometimes hectic world. The first time I put Wildwood Calling into the CD player and sat down to listen, I found myself daydreaming about numerous things. Things like walking through a field of wildflowers and sitting in a flat bottomed boat with my eyes closed, loosely gripping a fishing pole while the boat bobbed to the slight waves floating across a vacant lake. Then the music stopped. I shook the fog from my head and realized that I had listened to the whole disc. I had been in an ambiotic trance. I’m not sure if ambiotic is even a word, but for this article I’m using it. I can think of no better way to put it. The music had blended with or maybe even created the environment I had been daydreaming about for the last half hour or so. I am not a musician. I would love to be, but I’ve never been able to make any instrument sound even half way decent. I was passed by in the musical gene department. However, I do know what I like and I love Wildwood Calling. So, I asked my guitar playing friend Kevin, who is the lead guitarist for The Unidynes, to sit down and listen with me. Anything technical comes from the observations and musical mind of Kevin Kash.
There are thirteen instrumental tunes on Wildwood Calling. Most prominent on all songs is the guitar playing of Bo. Next I would say the drumming and percussion work of JT Bates. JT is probably almost as busy as Bo. He works with Pieta Brown, The Pines, JT’s Jazz Implosion and others. Laying down the bass tracks is Marty Christensen and Alex Ramsey adds keyboard on a couple. The first tune is called Fly On (part 2). Fly On (part 1) is the last tune on the disc. Fly On (parts 1 & 2) is dedicated to Prince Rogers Nelson. Fly On (part 2) is a slow tempo introspective number featuring Slide and Tremolo. Through The Trees features at least two guitar tracks over what sounds like a beaded metal percussion instrument. Up next is Feather Trail which is another slow tempo tune that features a slow loping drum and some nice Bass licks by Marty Christensen. Glide is a relaxed slow mid-tempo blues. Jump n Run is a bluesy upper mid-tempo tune that is kind of funky. It reminds me of the Muddy Waters tune Rollin’ and a Tumblin’. Out Here features some exceptional drum work by JT. Come On Back is a mid-tempo tune that has a Country Blues feel to it. Across The Field introduces some beautiful keyboards by Alex Ramsey. JT uses brushes on this one and not sure but Bo might be using a Resonator guitar. Movin’ On is another one with keyboards by Alex Ramsey. Alex tends to play the keys so they don’t really stand out, they are kind of sparse and beautiful. Fly On (part 1) features bottleneck guitar, lots of tremolo and some reverb with a little delay. It features nothing but the guitar of Bo Ramsey and is hauntingly beautiful. Wildwood Calling is a beautifully crafted and very interesting album. It is typical Bo Ramsey. Hopefully this review gives you a little insight to the album. If you like Bo Ramsey you will love Wildwood Calling. When you listen to it, be careful. It will make you feel peaceful, but it may also put you in dreamland. [ Article by Billy Rose.]