MerleFest Thursday: Randy Travis, Lost Bayou Ramblers

Written by April 29th, 2011 at 10:41 am

(photo: Jamie Younger)

Randy Travis played the evening set at the Watson stage Thursday, dipping heavily into a back catalog of fan favorites, including “Hard Rock Bottom Of Your Heart” and “Deeper Than The  Holler,” and relating stories about his misspent youth.

The set marked the first time the North Carolina native had played MerleFest. “You get a refresher course here on just how beautiful the country is,” Travis said.

Like many high-caliber performers who play the festival, Travis told the crowd he had the opportunity to visit with Doc Watson for a few hours before his set. “Just visiting with him for a few hours was so, so special.”

Travis is set to release an album of duets later this summer called Anniverary Celebration, in recognition of his twenty-five years in the music business. Thursday’s set included “Diggin’ Up Bones,” which he re-recorded with John Anderson for the new album. The singer said he discovered a long lost verse to the song, which he played last night and decided to include on the new album.

(photo: Jamie Younger)

We capped Thursday night at the Dance Tent, where we sashayed and two-stepped to the tunes of the Lost Bayou Ramblers, a spunky Cajun band that springs from the swamps of south Lousiana. The group is driven by brothers Louis (fiddle) and Andre Michot (accordion), who learned to play Cajun from their fathers and uncles.

I’d crossed paths with the Ramblers six years ago, in Richmond, Virginia. Since that time the band has added a more rock and roll edge to their sound, while still maintaining their roots. Thursday night they delivered a cover of Old 97s’ “Four Leaf Clover.”

The band closed the night with a Cajun lament, dedicated to the people who lost their lives in Wednesday’s tornadoes. The Ramblers had eaten lunch in Tuscaloosa on Wednesday, getting out of town just before the storms touched down.

Also, check out a performance of the band’s Friday afternoon show at MerleFest below.

Read the review: Corb Lund at MerleFest.

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