Scott Ramminger Releases His 5th Album - Rise Up, a slightly different path
Scott Ramminger has gone down a slightly different path on Rise Up, his March 2019 release - his fifth record since 2011. Where his previous studio discs have been heavy on horn sections and backing vocals, Rise Up features only five players - Ramminger on vocals and tenor sax; Wes Lanich on piano and Hammond B3, Shane Theriot on guitar, Paul Langosch on upright bass, and Emre Kartari on drums.
A Different Sonic Footprint
"I set out trying to make a record that had a slightly different sonic footprint, sort of a stripped down, more acoustic vibe. I hired a fine jazz drummer and upright bass player. And at one point, with my producer hat on, I asked them to play less like we were at Blues Alley (a famous DC jazz club) and more like we were playing in a Brooklyn strip club in about 1960, " Ramminger says, laughing. He adds that the another idea that drove the record was taking this more acoustic sound across a wide range of groves and song types.
Rise Up moves from the opening shuffle, "Thinking About You, " to the laid back funk of "Rise Up, " to the old school R&B of "Daisy" to the swing of "The Feeling When I'm Falling." "Today you don't hear a ton of funk tunes with an upright bass. It creates a different kind of groove, " Ramminger says of the title track. You could say the same for the R&B tune, "Daisy." And frankly, you don't hear all that many modern blues tunes with upright bass and acoustic piano way out front. The whole record is pretty woody and natural sounding - a great sounding Yamaha Grand Piano, a real Hammond B3 & Leslie, killer upright bass, drums, my tenor sax, and a bunch of Shane Theriot's cool old guitars and funky old tube amps. And we tracked the grand piano and the drums in the same room, so there's some bleed, which adds to the vibe of the thing.'
Of "Rise Up, " the title track, Ramminger says he was "bitching to a friend about the state of the world and wondering why I'm not hearing more songs about that" when he realized he should put his money where his mouth was. "It's kind of outside of my usual thing. And it was somewhat daunting. Because when you think of the protest songs of years past, the songs that come to mind are great ones -- "This Land is Your Land, " "Blowing in the Wind, " "Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud, " Randy Newman's "Rednecks" I could go on and on. A whole bunch of great songs in all sorts of genres. And when your staring at a blank piece of staff paper with songs like that going through your head, it can be tough. But I just tried to dig in and try to write something from my heart about waking up and taking a look around. And tried to make it funky…"
A Different Framework for His Songs
At eight songs, the record is shorter than any Ramminger has put out previously. "That was a conscious decision - a nod toward the way folks are listening to music today. I grew up when you listened to whole album sides - and usually whole albums. Sometimes double albums. . These days people are super busy. I still want to make records that people can listen to from start to finish. And I hope they will. But I wrote these songs. And I want people to listen to them. So I figure maybe the answer is to put out more smaller records. It's kind of an experiment." He adds that "Rise Up" is also an experiment in presenting his songs in a similar framework. "On a couple of the previous records, I had tracks where the song itself kind of got lost in the production. These songs seemed to want a simpler presentation."
Ramminger moved to Nashville in 2017, where he performs regularly as a sax player and sometimes ventures out to perform his songs solo, accompanying himself on guitar. He also returns frequently to his previous home of DC to play band gigs, and has performed throughout the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic with his own band and as a sideman. Ramminger's previous records have all received critical praise, in publications including "Downbeat, " "Elmore, " "Blues Matters, " "No Depression, " and many others. He has received significant airplay on blues and roots oriented radio, including Sirius XM's Bluesville Channel 70. His February 2017 studio release, Do What Your Heart Says To reached Number 1 on the "Root Music Report" R&B Charts, and his double live CD, released in September of 2017, charted on the "Roots Music Report" Blues Album Charts. Ramminger has won the Gold and two Silver Awards in Blues/Jazz Category of the Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Contest. His 2011 initial release, Crawstickers, took a Washington Area Music Association WAMMIE Award as best debut CD.
Varied Player Backgrounds Help Create The Record's Vibe
Ramminger contends that the varied backgrounds of the players juxtaposed against the variety of styles and grooves create an interesting effect on the record. "Basically Paul Langosch on bass and Emre Kartari on drums are mostly jazzers. Paul played with Tony Bennett for years. Wes, on keys who went to Berklee and can play all kinds of music, but is primarily a blues and rock guy." Shane Theriot on guitar can play anything, but is best known for playing in the Neville Brothers and for currently serving as the musical director on "Live From Daryl's House" and being the guitar man in Hall & Oates. I am mostly a blues, roots, old school R&B guy. So it makes for some interesting musical moments, I hope."
TRACKS AND TIMES:
1 Thinking About You - 3:57
2 88 Reasons - 4:34
3 Lemonade Blues - 5:23
4 Rise Up - 5:50
5 Daisy - 3:12
6 The Feeling When I'm Falling - 3:09
7 Ice Cream - 3:26
8 All Done - 3:08
PLAYERS & INSTRUMENT:
Scott Ramminger: vocals, tenor sax
Wes Lanich: keyboard
Shane Theriot: guitar
Paul Langosch: bass
Emre Kartari: drums
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