The music of the Red State Ramblers features native and adopted
Kentuckians playing Kentucky tunes and songs that resonate with the
truth of life lived close to the font from which this music springs. Will Bacon and Jeff Keith grew
up in the Bluegrass State, while Ron Pen, Nikos Pappas, and Kevin Kehrberg were
inevitably drawn to the Commonwealth many years ago.
They all met through the University of Kentucky
where Nikos and Kevin were doctoral students in musicology, Jeff a history
doctoral student, Will a distinguished alumnus, and Ron a Professor of
Music. Together, the Red State Ramblers
seek to maintain the traditional music of the region through their intelligent
and impassioned performance of the music that is their birthright.
While the Red State Ramblers met
through the university, theirs is anything but a cerebral and academic sound. It was conceived in jam sessions on the
Kentucky River, embraced by the wild call of frogs in the spring and warmed by
a roaring bonfire of a chill winter’s eve.
In 2003, the band members’ blood-tight friendship finally flowered into what
has proven a lively decade of performances, recordings, and tours.
The Red State Ramblers play old time
music, a music that sings of the old ways in a new way that remains brilliantly
alive. Old time music is the garden of
delights that raised a progressive crop of genres such as swing, bluegrass,
rockabilly, and country; these genres are audible in the Red State Ramblers’
old time sound. And this
quintessentially American music is the true vine that many folks continue to
cherish as a precious heirloom, a gift of the past to nourish us in the future.
The Red State Ramblers have recorded
two albums, The Red State Ramblers in 2006 and Commonwealth in 2009, and they released both on the Old 97 Wrecords
label. During the interim period, the
band received honors at the 2008 Appalachian String Band Festival in Clifftop,
West Virginia. Since then the group has
toured throughout the nation and, in 2012, enjoyed State Department-sponsored
tours in both Kyrgyzstan and Ecuador.