by Gerald Browning
On Saturday, March 7, the Blue Water Ramblers will be performing for the LowellArts crowd at 7 pm.
The Blue Water Ramblers are comprised of 'Banjo-Jim' Foerch on banjo and vocals, R.H. 'Bear' Berends on guitar and vocals, California Dan on bass fiddle and vocals and Deacon Marten on fiddle.
The Blue Water Ramblers' repertoire comes right out of their Michigan life experiences and the history of the Great Lakes region. It includes lake shanties, lumberman ballads, union rallying cries, farmers' paeans, Michigan humor, love songs, gospel music and children's ditties.
Foerch gave the Ledger some inside hints as to what to expect from a Blue Water Ramblers performance.
"The Blue Water Ramblers write and sing traditional music with modern themes," Foerch said. "You will hear contemporary folk songs with a definite bluegrass feel. You can expect clever songs, hot picking and rich harmony. [They are] the songs of Michigan, America and your life. The Blue Water Ramblers sing the songs of Lowell! We all write songs, so the listeners know all our personal secrets."
Foerch elaborated further about the band's sound.
"[Mostly] guitar and bass," Foerch said. "I switch between my bluegrass banjo for the bluegrass, my electric banjo for the swing and country rock songs and my pedal steel guitar for the country songs. This really evokes a song styling that seems to tell a story. [...] We're singing the people's songs about the people's lives and they can join right in and sing along."
Foerch also spoke about the creativity of the group's songwriting. Some of the influences and inspirations that the songwriters get for their music comes from real life.
"Quite often a phrase will spark a whole song," Foerch said. "For instance, I just wrote 'Dump the Chump' for a friend who has had bad luck choosing her boyfriends."
The Blue Water Ramblers are no strangers to Lowell.
"We have performed at LowellArts and Fallasburg Art Festival," Foerch said. "We perform wherever people want to celebrate, festivals and concerts, paddle wheelers and lake ships, in cities and out in the woods, on stages and around campfires, at church gatherings and traditional dances."
For more information or to buy advance tickets, contact LowellArts at 616-897-8548 or lowellartsmi.org/gallery-concerts.