New Southern Ramblers
The New Southern Ramblers are the modern incarnation of a band that dates back to the 1930s. In 1982, Ralph Blizard, a National Heritage Fellow and revered master of the longbow style of fiddling, met the Green Grass Cloggers, a North Carolina-based clogging performance group. Blizard had recently retired, and returned to fiddle music of his youth. With several members of the Green Grass Cloggers, Blizard formed the band the New Southern Ramblers, named for his band with whom he had played on the radio from Johnson City in the 1940s. For twenty years Ralph Blizard and the New Southern Ramblers toured and recorded together.
Blizard passed away in 2004, but the New Southern Ramblers go on. Their current lineup is a group of some of Western North Carolina’s best-known old-time musicians. John Herrmann, who is now the band’s fiddler, has lived and played music in Asheville for more than thirty years, and teaches at music camps throughout the country. Bass player Meredith McIntosh, also a longtime Asheville resident, is a veteran of prominent old-time and Cajun bands. Gordy Hinners, the banjo player, is a well-known clogger and buck dancer as well as a musician. Phil Jamison, the band’s guitarist, is a prominent dancer and dance caller, and a leading scholar of the dance and music traditions of the Southern Appalachian mountains.
The New Southern Ramblers have performed at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, MerleFest, and the Swannanoa Gathering. In addition to the several recordings that the band made with Ralph Blizard, they have released an album in their current configuration, Old-Time Mountain Music. The New Southern Ramblers play for dances and give concerts all over the United States.