Today's highlighted Madison-based musical act is the Oak Street Ramblers.
Working from a repertoire of classic and original tunes, the Oak Street Ramblers have been regularly playing bluegrass over the last few years for audiences throughout Madison. The six-piece band performs at festivals both indoors and outdoors, as well as at the occasional club show. Their primary home, though, is a monthly east-side gig at Wonders Pub.
Who are the Oak Street Ramblers? In alphabetical order, they are Ian Alderman (guitar, dobro and vocals), Willie Jones (mandolin and vocals), Jeff Kunkle (bass), Mark Schlutt (banjo and vocals), Betty Stattelman (guitar and vocals), and Christine Thompson (fiddle and vocals). A few more details about the group, including their recent and upcoming shows, can be found at theoakstreetramblers.com.
A brief performance by the Ramblers is available here for listening; it is the fourth segment from the Friday, Sep. 1, 2006 edition of the "Friday Buzz" on WORT, as produced and posted by Tonya Brito. As for visuals of the band, there are a few online photos of the sextet playing at the autumn 2004 kickoff for the Wisconsin Hoofers Outing Club.
Americana auteur (and Isthmus employee) Kelly Pardekooper opened for the Ramblers at their New Year's Eve party at Wonders. The songwriter describes his experiences playing with the bluegrass group:
Jeff Kunkle, bass player of the Oak Street Ramblers, called me out of the blue the week prior to New Year's Eve looking for another act to help ring in the new year at Wonders Pub. We had a great time. The place was packed and the Oak Street Ramblers had people up dancing to their old-timey bluegrass music.
The merch highlight? At the show, the Oak Street Ramblers busted out new t-shirts stamped with their logo and recycled entirely from $1 day at Savers. Then there was the dancing highlight, when a 70-something year old woman from Kentucky did an insane traditional two-step jig that defied arthritic hips and brought the house down.
They play the first Saturday of every month at Wonder's Pub and seem to put "having fun" at the top of their priority list. They are a six-piece made up of super friendly Atwood neighborhood locals with regular lives, jobs, kids... and a genuine love for making music.
The first gig of the year for the Oak Street Ramblers is this Saturday, Jan. 6, when they return to their home at Wonders for another night of stings and dancing. They'll be returning each month thereafter to the Schenks Corners tavern.
This is the latest featured entry from the Madison Music Project, an online database of Madison-area musicians. Please register or update your current profile on the project for consideration in these highlights.