The Cary Street Ramblers play old-time Appalachian string band music. Blending the fiddle-driven dance tunes and old songs brought to this country by early Scots-Irish settlers with the banjo rhythms brought by African slaves, old-time music is one of America’s earliest art forms. The Cary Street Ramblers are keeping that tradition alive today. Band members include Michael Ford on fiddle; Jeff Brown playing banjo; Tripp Johnson on mandolin; Jenny Johnson playing guitar and banjo; and Skip Andrews on bass. The band formed in 2009 out of Tripp and Jenny’s weekly old-time jam at Cary Street Café in Richmond, Virginia. Now hosted by the Cary Street Ramblers, it’s the longest-running old-time jam in Eastern Virginia. The band regularly performs at old-time fiddler’s conventions, music festivals, and square dances.
Michael Ford has been fiddling old-time since 1971, playing with and learning from players such as Mike Cross, Walt Koken, Mark Campbell, Harold Hausenfluck, among many others. As is apparent in his playing, his influences include the great old fiddlers of Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Kentucky as well as the southern string bands from the 1920’s and 30’s. He was the Virginia State Fair Champion fiddler in 2011 and also performed at the 2011 Richmond Folk Festival.
Jeff Brown grew up in Galax, Virginia, and started playing old-time music 40 years ago. He has played with Kyle Creed as a member of the Camp Creek Boys, and also played with Abe Horton, Rafe Brady, Edd Michael, Albert Hash, Andy Cahan, Enoch Rutherford, and Carly Marion. He has played in old-time bands placing 2nd & 4th at Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention, and also won 2nd place in the Galax old-time banjo contest.
Tripp Johnson has been a music educator and performer in a wide variety of music styles for more than 30 years. He teaches mandolin and directs the Appalachian Music Ensemble at the College of William and Mary. He won 1st place in the 2012 Highland County old-time mandolin contest, and placed 4th in the 2013 Grayson County bluegrass/old-time mandolin contest.
Jenny Johnson and husband, Tripp, have hosted the weekly old-time jam at Cary Street Café in Richmond since 2003. She plays old-time guitar and banjo, singing with a voice described as “a clear mountain stream.” Her influences include Laura Boosinger, Cathy Fink, Bruce Molsky, Doc Watson, and John Hartford.
Skip Andrews has been playing bass in numerous bands in Virginia and South Carolina for more than 35 years. He is experienced playing in a variety of genres ranging from rock and roll to old time. Skip has hosted an old-time/Americana radio show in Ashland, Virginia, for 15 years.