Creator: Red Clay Ramblers papers, 1970s-1990s [manuscript].
Collection number: 4756
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Abstract: The Red Clay Ramblers began in 1972 as a trio of musicians who had been playing in and around Chapel Hill, N.C. Personnel has included Tommy Thompson, banjo, guitar, vocals (1972-1994); Jim Watson, mandolin, guitar, vocals (1972-1986); Bill Hicks, fiddle, vocals (1972-1981); Clay Buckner, fiddle, vocals (1980- ); Mike Craver, piano, vocals (1973-1986); Bland Simpson, piano, vocals (1986- ); Jack Herrick, bass, horns, vocals (1976- ); and Chris Frank, piano, guitar, accordion, horns, vocals (1987- ). Over the years, they have released numerous albums, gone on U.S. State Department-sponsored tours, collaborated with Sam Shepard on plays and films, and had several successful off-Broadway runs. Chiefly materials, 1974-1996, relating to the Red Clay Ramblers’ musical performances and theatrical presentations. Included are programs, newspaper reviews, and publicity posters from “Hot Grog: A Tuneful Pirate Saga”; “Life on the Mississippi”; “The Merry Wives of Windsor, Texas”; “A Lie of the Mind”; “Far North”; Sam Shepard’s “Silent Tongue”; “Fool Moon”; and “Kudzu: A Southern Musical.” Also included are drafts of the musical “Diamond Studs: The Life of Jesse James” by Jim Wann and Bland Simpson, along with materials relating to its performances; a manuscript and call sheet for “Silent Tongue”; a scrapbook with materials relating to Bland Simpson’s Southern States Fidelity Choir, “Diamond Studs,” and other works; a radio script for “The Last Song of John Proffit,” an historical play by Tommy Thompson based upon the life Dan Emmett and his interactions with the Snowdens, an African-American family from Ohio, which touches on the development of the banjo, the culture surrounding minstrel shows, and the interaction between Anglo-American and African-American musicians; photographs documenting Ramblers’ musical and theatrical activities; biographies and venue lists created for promotional purposes; and correspondence, primarily between Bland Simpson and theater companies about performances.
Repository: Southern Historical Collection
Collection Highlights: There is a radio script for The Last Song of John Proffit, an historical play by Tommy Thompson based upon the life Dan Emmett and his interactions with the Snowdens, an African-American family from Ohio, which touches on the development of the banjo, the culture surrounding minstrel shows, and the interaction between Anglo-American musicians and African-American musicians (Folder 9).