Rain City Ramblers is an exciting acoustic trio from Seattle, Washington. Featuring a solid lineup of bass, mandolin, and guitar, they span the best of American roots music--lonesome harmonies, honest songwriting, and heartfelt picking. They trace the lines between bluegrass and country, jazz and folk, old-time and the blues, distilling their favorite elements of these traditions and blending them into finely-crafted songs. Together, they have developed a style that is fluid, fun and connected to the present.
The band initially formed in early 2016, when Forrest Marowitz (upright bass), Daniel Ullom (mandolin), and James Horbett (guitar) began swapping tunes in a community kitchen. They have been performing regularly together ever since and have shared the stage with notable acts such as Elephant Revival, Billy Strings, Head for the Hills, and Rushaad Eggleston. Their energetic and diverse shows are the result of countless hours immersed in Seattle’s rich music scenes—song circles, bluegrass festivals, square dances, jazz tributes, and busking corners. The trio can play for dances or listening halls, often for hours without repeating a song and improvising arrangements as needed.
Their debut album Hateful Ways, released in January 2017, was recorded live to tape on a Tascam 388. “I was reading Ralph Stanley’s memoir right as the material was coming together,” recalls Ullom “and he talks about when the Stanley brothers would record multiple albums in a single day around a condenser mic---that level of musicianship is pretty inspiring.” The 14-track album features mostly original songwriting and is full of honest performances and effervescent improvisations. The first track Hateful Ways fits solidly in the bluegrass tradition, complete with lonesome harmonies and fiery solos. Yet on the third track Holladays, you can hear Horbett crooning over swing changes in tribute to the great singer Billie Holliday. PMA showcases the band’s ability to step out of the traditional folk grooves. The strong back beat in combination the vocal delivery of Marowitz and a guest trumpet appearance create a fun and fresh vibe, while the lyrics, reminding listeners to stay present and positive, are a much needed respite from the classic themes of heartbreak and despair found elsewhere on the album. The original instrumentals, like Doom Dawg, feature masterful execution and creative arrangements, proving the band can play just as well as they can sing.
This collection of songs and this group of musicians celebrate experiences like thankfulness, isolation, mindfulness, and sorrow. These are constant sources of inspiration and help create music that is honest and organic and functional. You can dance. You can sing. You can pick. Everybody gets the blues, and Rain City Ramblers can show you what to do with them.