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CD Review: Ramblin' Rangers - High Hopes And Hard Luck Trails - by Bob Everhart for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

High Hopes and Hard Luck Trails
Soldiers Farewell - Boys of the West - Cooke's Peak Lament - New Mexico Waltz - Song of the Land - You Just Can't See Him from the Road - Here's Hopin'

What a refreshing 'new' approach to the western music trend that's happening in America today.  Brad Exton is the shaker and mover behind this easy to listen to CD.  It's kind of western, and it's kind of not.  It's western style songs and stories set to music, but not necessarily the same instrumentation or rhythm patterns of a 'western style' music.  Good musicians make this possible in South Dakota where the Ramblin' Rangers make their home.  Brad Exton is on guitar and lead vocals; BonnieJo Exton is on guitar, mandotar, and harmonica; John Culbertson is on lead guitar; Cheryl Janssens on upright bass; Katie Lautenshalager on fiddle; Beverly Gray on musical saw (especially nice on "Cooke's Peak Lament" it almost sounds like a musical wind joining the music makers); Jarrett Weimer on MIDI bass.  All in all, a thoroughly western, or rural, approach to these kind of songs.  America has made such a departure from 'real' music these days, 'story' songs are unnatural for a listener of todays popular music.  They wouldn't even understand it. For me, I've been listening to a lot of 'western' music, especially the older versions for a project I'm working on for the Smithsonian, and I thoroughly enjoy this introduction to a very different and very creative purpose.  These folks have obviously spent a lot of time preparing their music, and the effect it has on their listeners.  This is the group that would sound good at any of those old-time bon-fire gatherings on any ranch anywhere that still appreciates the music and stories that abounded so often in the old prairie days. It's a super listen, and thoroughly enjoyable.  I hope we'll get to hear more from this interesting versatile and original 'western' style music makers.  I will be forwarding this CD on to the Rural Roots Music Commission for their listen.  They are looking for more music of this kind, so I hope they like it as much as I do.
RECORD REVIEW BY: Bob Everhart, President, National Traditional Country Music Assn. www.music-savers.com 
For Country Music News International

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