Sturdy enough to survive
When it comes to real-deal Cajun music, Linda Ronstadt is generally not the first name that comes to mind. But it either speaks to the eclecticism of Ronstadt's tastes or the universality of the Red Stick Ramblers' music that she felt compelled to contribute this gushing testimonial to the Ramblers' 2003 album, Bring It On Down: "The Red Stick Ramblers are pure joy. They're a great band, crafty songwriters and faithful interpreters of the most authentic Cajun traditions."
Formed in 2000 by six residents of Baton Rouge, Louisiana (including fiddle player Joel Savoy, son of Cajun music mainstays Marc and Ann Savoy), the Ramblers are a polished ensemble with a musical command way too broad for the Cajun category. Their sophomore release, Bring It On Down (Memphis International Records), wanders from Western swing ("Bring It On Down To My House") to blues ("Main Street Blues") to jazzy torch songs ("What Can I Do?") to honky-tonk ("Stay All Night"). At times, as with the French ragtime of "Belle" or the swinging adaptation of the standard "Dinah," they could almost be mistaken for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Recommendations from Ronstadt can be a dangerous thing. She nearly incited slot-machine tourists to riot in Vegas last summer with a few words of praise for Michael Moore. And Jerry Brown's political career never fully recovered from a late-'70s fling with her. But the Red Stick Ramblers look sturdy enough to survive. •