Summer Concert Series June 16—River Ramblers (Original Bluegrass)

The River Ramblers are a five piece Bluegrass band that hails from areas surrounding Springfield IL. The group assembled in 1987 with the commitment to maintaining the traditional bluegrass sound.  If you’re familiar with the music of Bluegrass icons such as Monroe, Stanley, Flatt & Scruggs, you will recognize nearly every tune this band performs.  To date, the group has issued three recordings which include mostly traditional songs combined with some original tunes.

Don Randle is a computer wizard by day and plays upright bass on the side.  Don also is an accomplished banjo player and occasionally the Ramblers will sneak in a banjo tune featuring Don.   

Jennifer Ramm came to the area from Michigan and quickly found a way to put her fiddling talents to use.  She has been with the group since 1993 and provides striking lead and harmony vocals as well.  Jennifer added to the band’s sound, the “final touch” necessary to bluegrass music.  She is known throughout the area for hosting the local PBS Bluegrass radio show on Sunday evenings. 

Mike Smith joined the group in the early years as a bass player and converted to banjo when the original banjo player moved on.  Mike was raised in Arkansas where he first acquired an affinity for Bluegrass.  He now resides in central Illinois where he continues to enhance his “Croweish” banjo licks.  Mike has also developed his own design of “Kat eyz” banjo bridges in recent years and has enjoyed much success producing and marketing them around the world.

The position of guitar is filled by Marc Bourne, a central Illinois native.  He is one of the remaining original members of the band and is enjoying continued opportunities to learn the music and instrumentation.  Marc also contributes lead and back-up vocals along with providing the “straight man” target of Duane’s big country humor.

Duane Patterson is the founder of the group.  He came to the area from Kentucky which is, as you know, “The Bluegrass State”, and could not leave his roots behind.  He soon had the group in place and has since always played the role of band promoter.  Duane provides most of the lead vocals and plays a “Monroe - like” bold style of Mandolin.  There is seldom a dull moment when he is on the stage (or off-stage for that matter). 

Duane and the River Ramblers are typically known for their entertaining style on stage as the lively music is combined with an acute degree of personal character.  They are sure to keep your attention even if you’re not familiar with this style of music.  The group attributes their longevity to enjoying the music and the camaraderie of their fellow musicians.

The Summer Concert Series is provided by members of the Coal Country Chamber of Commerce.  Sponsors who have donated funds to provide this entertainment  are:  Carlinville Area Hospital; COUNTRY® Financial of Gillespie - Tina Olroyd, Financial Representative; Dairy Queen of Gillespie; Farmer’s Insurance, Adam Tallman, Agent; FNB - Benld Banking Center;  Furniture Rescue of Gillespie; Hicks Maytag Home Appliance Center of Gillespie; Michelle’s Pharmacy of Gillespie;  Quality Flooring of Gillespie; State Farm of Benld/Gillespie - Jessica Ely Agent;  Sullivan Drugs, Inc.;  and United Community Bank of Gillespie. 

 Other Chamber members whose services help to provide the Concert Series are:  1st BancFinancial - Greg Craine, Agent; the City of Benld; Drew Ford;  Gina Gucciardo, CPA of Gillespie; Goodman Real Estate & Insurance of Benld; Hebenstreit Apartments Benld; Macoupin County Journal Publications; Madison Communications;  Papa JoDanni’s Catering; Jodanni’s Amore’ Restaurant of Benld; Reid’s Service - Heating and Cooling;  Roma’s Pizza of Gillespie;  WSMI AM/FM &WAOX Radio. 

Anyone having questions or seeking more information on the Summer Concert Series may contact Co-chair Mickey Robinson at 217-710-5218.  Information on the concerts and other Chamber activities can be seen on the  Coal Country Chamber of Commerce on Facebook so that you will see further announcements about our events.