Randall Baumann’s Thunderbird Ramble
April 4, 2015
Photos and article by Randy Jarosz
Randy Baumann, host of 102.5 WDVE’s morning show had a smile from ear to ear Saturday night, at the Thunderbird Cafe in Lawrenceville. If you were there, you would understand why. Baumann assembled one of the most talented roster of musicians in all of Pittsburgh. Randall Baumann’s Thunderbird Ramble is based off of Levon Helm’s “Midnight Ramble.” Helm’s legendary Ramble was a star studded cast of musicians that would perform at his home and studio known as “The Barn.” Money earned from those shows went toward Helm’s medical expenses from throat cancer.
This isn’t Baumann’s first “Ramble,” and like Helm’s, each setlist is different. Songs from The Band, Neil Young, Grateful Dead, The Kinks and The Rolling Stones were on display this time around. The featured band for the evening was Randy Baumann on keys, Chad Sipes on bass, Danny Rectenwald on mandolin, Robert James on guitar, James Hart on guitar, Skip Sanders on keys and accordion, Ryan Booth on sax, Joe Herndon on trumpet and Joey Waslousky on drums. “Randy is really good at matching up the right type of tunes with the right type of singer, because we’re all different there, which makes the event all that more special,” Says Jay Wiley
Wiley, lead singer of The Hawkeyes, in his 6th “Ramble,” was the first special guest of the evening, playing The Band’s “Get Up Jake,” a song he plays regularly during solo shows. Chet Vincent brought out Molly Alphabet, who opened the evening with her band, to help sing Neil Young’s “Unknown Legend,” encouraging fans to sing along. 105.9 the X morning show host, Abby Krizner also of the band, Fist Fight in the Parking Lot, played a fun version of Lucinda Williams, “Can’t Let Go.” Max Sommerville played the keyboard, while joining Wreck Loose bandmate Nathan Zoob on stage. Sommerville dedicated a heartfelt rendition of Dr. John’s “Such a Night,” to his grandfather. Josh Verbanets of Meeting of Important People played the Kinks “Lola,” while André Costello changed things up with the Grateful Dead’s “Brown Eyed Women.” The brilliant performances ended with Pul Luc playing The Band’s “Atlantic City,” and all performers packing the stage tightly for The Band’s “Rag Mama.”
“The camaraderie between all of the artists who are involved and the respect we all have for one another is what I notice the most… It is amazing that when we come together, how seamlessly our “powers combine” to create something that is not only pleasing musically, but is also fulfilling for us spiritually. You can see and feel it from the audience that they are witnessing something honest and special. It has honestly brought all of us together in a manner i’ve never personally witnessed a music scene do, we’re honestly all friends,” admits Wiley.
We’ve seen our music scene grow stronger over the years through music festivals and other gatherings. Older musicians encourage younger, all while building a stronger foundation for the next generation. The Thunderbird Ramble only solidifies this movement and for that, this special event has all the makings of a local legend.