Randy Baumann’s Ramble at the Rex
March 18, 2016
Photos and re-cap by Randy Jarosz
2015 saw Randy Baumann’s Ramble take the outdoor stage at Hartwood Acres, but was rained out by a storm that rolled through. All of the other Ramble’s have taken place at Thunderbird Cafe, but Friday was hosted by the Rex Theater. A much deserved, expansive space for a gathering of musicians that need a bigger stage. With more room for fans and artists the night proved to me as memorable as past intimate outings.
Baumann’s Ramble is modeled after the late Levon Helm’s famed Midnight Ramble, where legendary musicians join him for an unforgettable night of collaborations and sit-ins. Like Helm’s Ramble, this is a night of who’s who in the Pittsburgh music scene working together in a similar fashion. As Baumann notes this is only a very small sample of what Pittsburgh music has to offer.
“The set list I think finally took a step forward in terms of original music played by (Nathan) Zoob, Paul (Luc), André (Costello), and Chet (Vincent), which is hopefully a direction we can keep moving toward since the whole point of these shows was originally to turn people on to how great the Pittsburgh music scene is. Even though these shows only provide a small sampling of all that’s out there, for the uninitiated it’s a good introduction,” said Baumann.
Along with a few originals , fans were treated to songs like “Down To the River to Pray” made popular by Allison Kraus, sang by Morgan Erina, with a choir featuring Addi Twigg, Molly Alphabet and Teal Fitzpatrick. Clinton Clegg let it all out with Joe Cocker’s “Space Captain” and John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy.” Jay Wiley layed down a convincing version of The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” While Chet Vincent gave us “Starman” from David Bowie. Fittingly the night ended with all members on stage splitting parts to The Bands “The Weight” and Paul Luc capping things off with “Cripple Creek.”
Baumann first got wind of how good Pittsburgh music really was about 6-7 years ago when he was turned onto Triggers from Dave at Dave’s Music Mine. “From there Lohio, Good Night States, Harlan Twins, all these bands were emerging with such tremendous chops, I was hopeful we were on the verge of something special. Little did I know we were already there, I just didn’t know about it yet,” he continued.
Baumann has since passed on a number of duties when organizing these show. Molly Aphabet handles vocalists, Zoob takes care of artist arrangements, Phil Brontz handles the horn section while everyone else handles rehearsals.
“Rob James is the spiritual center for these shows and that can’t be understated. He sets the tone and the vibe from which everyone else has been able to feed. And he’s an incredibly talented and generous musician. I’m as proud to be a part of this as anything I’ve ever been involved with. I only hope we continue to add to the family because as I’ve said, this is a small sampling of the great things happening in Pittsburgh. I wish we could do them every weekend,” said Baumann.