Recently it was my pleasure to talk to DB Brown and Randy Cornelius from one of longest running bands in Poughkeepsie, formerly known as the Raymond Avenue Ramblers in the late 70's on up, they are now reborn as the Roundabout Ramblers.
As eclectic a band as I have ever heard, the variety of music they present is as surprising as the members themselves, comprised entirely of Vassar college professors and students. The following interview took place at Baby Cakes Café in Poughkeepsie, where they are appearing on Wednesday nights.
An interview with Joan Harrison who will be appearing at the HVBA fundraiser this Sunday, May 31st with the band- "Too Blue"
Q. What's up with "Too Blue," I hear there's a new recording in the works.
A. We kicked off our summer schedule over the Memorial Day weekend with the Columbia Land Conservancy’s 19th Annual Country BBQ, and will continue to keep busy with town concerts, private parties and an appearance at the Dutchess County Fair. This past year we were joined by Jamie Doris on bass and are happy to report that he is a great fit for the band. Having studied jazz at the New School in New York City, he brings knowledge and open-mindedness to our table, while keeping it solid and tasteful on the bluegrass numbers. Work has begun on our second CD; we’re about a third of the way through the project.
Jimi Heslin's vision was to provide a one-stop center for the musician. Eight years ago he sold the successful music shop "Let's Jam" to his employees. After steady gigging in the intervening years, Jimi has assembled a team of long-time colleagues to create "The Axe Shop."
"Everybody goes back many years," says Jimi, "through many connections." He continues, "I run a lean and mean operation with three employees doing everything from refinishing to neck resets to fret jobs." His team of luthiers includes Bob Gerhards, who ran Brian Moore's custom music shop for 14 years, Rick Mullen, who ran Drome's Sound in Albany, and Mark Modesto, the repairman at Let's Jam for 10 years. Mark worked for Steinberger and Jeff Carano managed there while Jeff Babicz was the technician who implemented Ned Steinberger's designs. In addition to the luthiers, Steve Belizzi serves as the shop’s technician. Jimi describes Steve as “our McGyver, he can fix anything with nothing.”
As I was interviewing Dolores for this article, HVBA president Jeff Anzevino walked by. Dolores said, “It’s all his fault.” She was referring to how she got involved with bluegrass in the Hudson Valley. Back in 1994, her husband, Howard heard an ad on the radio asking for help in forming a new bluegrass organization in the area. She was the first to respond and the rest is history. She became the secretary, treasurer, and membership coordinator of the fledgling HVBA.
Q Chris, how long have you been involved with the HVBA and how did that come about?
This will make good bedtime reading. Sominex may go out of business. This isn't scraping the bottom of the barrel. You're tipping the barrel over and searching under it if you want to interview me.
"It was a dark and stormy night." No, not really. It was cool summer eve. A scratchy signal came through the car radio and I heard LC Smith, on the nifty 950, WHVW, announce the first jam at the Rhinecliff Hotel in 19_ _ (whatever year that was). I went. Whatever happened to LC?
Jeff gets all the credit for getting the organization going. I just showed up. Then we all starting going to Dolores and Howard's (Tubbs) house in Hyde Park for the board meetings. I don't remember where the jams were first held. Since I'm musically challenged and have terrible people skills I offered to help in other areas as needed.