Photos and recap by Melanie Stangl
Randy Baumann’s Rambles are something pretty special. A few nights per year, the host of local rock station 102.5 WDVE puts twenty or so musicians from some of Pittsburgh’s most notable acts onstage at the same time. Powerhouse vocalists, guitar virtuosos, skilled singer-songwriters, unrivaled rhythm sections, an exuberant horn trio, and much more: this supergroup has it all. Their setlists are packed with crowd-pleasing classic songs and surprising special guests, and they seem to be having just as much fun as those who come out in droves to see them. On December 2nd at the Rex Theater, the Ramble band did it again—bigger and better than ever before.
Between cameos from local music legends like The Clarks’ Scott Blasey and Joe Grushecky (with son in tow); musicians such as Jon Bindley and Kayla Schureman joining the Ramble band for the first time; and two full sets rocking until nearly 1 AM (in lieu of an opening act), it was a standout among standouts. Ramble vets such as Andre Costello, Chet Vincent, Addi Twigg, Paul Luc, Max Somerville, Molly Alphabet, and Clinton Clegg (who, more recently, you might have seen performing the National Anthem at Heinz Field this Sunday) brought their A-game as well. Mike Minda and Nathan Zoob stole the spotlight with a perfect take of The Allman Brothers’ “Jessica,” and Morgan Erina’s powerful rendition of “Jolene” captivated the crowd. Cara Garofalo’s violin and James Hart’s steel guitar added gorgeous dimension. And Luc led the entire group in their traditional, rollicking closer, “Up On Cripple Creek.”
Alongside the incredible skill and professionalism each Rambler brought was something undeniable: passion. These people play music, practice music, live and breathe music because they love it. That excitement was obvious each time they took the stage, and it was contagious: you’d be hard pressed to find more enthusiastic crowds for local shows. Between snapping shots, I couldn’t help but cheer and whoop and dance along with everyone else.
But don’t just take my word for it. Make the trip down to the next Ramble in 2018, and see for yourself just what makes the Pittsburgh music community shine.