Rick and The Ramblers Western Swing Band

MEET THE RAMBLERS

Rick & The Ramblers Western Swing Band:

Rick Norcross - Vocals & Rhythm Guitar
Taryn Noelle - Vocals
Julia Shannon-Grillo - Vocals
Josie Ritter - Vocals
Charlie MacFadyen - Piano, Accordion & Lap Steel Guitar
Doug Reid - Fiddle
Dono Schabner - Lead Guitar
Dave Rowell - Vocals & Bass Guitar
Ian Koeller - Drums
Ken Grillo - Sound Engineer & Road Manager
Thomas Margetic - Road Crew Chief

See our Photo Archives

Check out our Concert Schedule

A Rick & The All-Star Ramblers Western Swing Band performance is a high energy, entertaining and danceable trip back to a Vermont of a simpler, more musical day. A time of live radio, touring musical revues and family values. A Rambler show is fraught with Vermont-grown original music, classic western swing chestnuts and top-notch musicianship. Each of the Ramblers is an excellent musician in his or her own right. Together Rick & The Ramblers deliver an exceptional musical experience, loaded with laughs, musical memories, surprises and sweet harmonies.

Rick & The All-Star Ramblers Western Swing Band travel the region in “The Mighty Pickle,” an attention-grabbing 1957 Flxible Starliner tour bus in the style of early western swing legends like Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys. The Pickle enjoyed a fan-financed, 13 month major restoration over the past two years, thanks to donations from more than 125 “Mighty Pickle People” from all over the world under the auspices of Bear Bessete in Hardwick, Vermont. The Pickle was honored on national television at the in June of 2013 when the Travel Channel’s “Mega RV Countdown” featured The Mighty Pickle at Hardwick’s Spring Festival Parade. See the Pickle Page for further details about Pickle history and the story about the “Preserve The Pickle” restoration project.

Rick & The All-Star Ramblers 2014 “Welcome To OUR Vermont” Tour is sponsored by their good friends at 98.9WOKO, who have sponsored Rick & The Ramblers Western Swing Band for 27 consecutive years supported by an aggressive promotional campaign on Vermont’s number one Arbitron-rated radio station! Their 2015 Family of Sponsors also boasts support from North Country Federal Credit Union, REM Development, The Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, Dona’s Car Store in Hardwick, Johnson Woolen Mills and Burlington’s Magnificent Hotel Vermont.

Rick Norcross - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar

Here’s what Rick has to say about the amazing past year following up on his 2013 celebration of his 50th year in the music biz.

“I never dreamed we could ever surpass last year’s tour of performances celebrating my 50th year in the music biz. But indeed! We kept the forward momentum going “Vermont Strong” with the release of the 2014, “Welcome To OUR Vermont” CD project. On New Year’s Day 2015, WCAX-Television used three of our songs on their very wonderful “Year In Pictures” piece put together by videographer Lance MacKenzie. They even had a live clip of me playing “Welcome To OUR Vermont” from my appearance earlier this year on “The :30.” Lance also worked “Paint It Like A Cow” and “I Heard The Highway” into the piece. And the editing of the stories made the songs compliment the subjects beautifully. It was a real honor to hear our tunes come across on the statewide CBS affiliate and I deeply appreciate WCAX making the choice to use our Vermont music. If you missed it, Anson Tebbetts sent me this link: http://www.wcax.com/story/27744265/2014-year-in-pictures.

Thanks to the Gene Autry, Oklahoma based Academy of Western Artists’ 2015 Finalist nomination for “Best Western Swing Song” and the 2014 nomination as “Best Western Swing Band,” western swing radio and internet DJs are currently airing songs from “Welcome To OUR Vermont” on their programs based in England; Madrid, Spain; France; Argentina and in the U.S., in Lubbock, Texas; Tampa, Florida; California and Washington, DC. These Vermont and regional radio stations have kindly embraced the tunes, especially the title track: WOKO; WDEV; WLVB; WVMT; WRUV; Vermont Public Radio, North Country Public Radio and New Hampshire Public Radio.

And now, here’s my bio:

Rick Norcross, longtime leader of Vermont’s premier western swing band, Rick &The All-Star Ramblers, performs mostly original songs about life in Vermont set smoothly into the western swing style of music. Many of his songs are lighthearted snapshots of a lost Vermont. A third generation graduate of Hardwick Academy, Class of ‘63, Norcross began his career performing in 1962 at The Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe as a “folk singer,” today called a singer/songwriter, for 17 years playing mostly humorous songs, first around northern Vermont before moving on to perform at major folk venues like The Unicorn in Boston and The Gaslight in New York City.

In June of 1965, he boarded the ocean liner “Empress of England” out of Montreal, and headed for London where he performed for nearly a year in folk clubs all over England under the auspices of London City Agency (who also handled one other American folk singer, Paul Simon). Norcross was “Master of Ceremonies” at Paul Simon’s “Going Away Party” at Les Cousins in London in February of 1966. He returned for three more British tours playing over 60 folk clubs into 1974 when he began working Summers out of Burlington and Winters out of Tampa, Florida for the next 20 years.

When the “Great Folk Scare of the 60s” receded, Norcross turned to performing in band configurations, continuing to play many of his own songs in a western swing genre, a natural extension of his favorite music, combining folk, country, swing, blues and jazz in a dancable, up-tempo, audience-friendly sound.

These days, fronting his longtime nine piece group, Rick &The All-Star Ramblers Western Swing Band, Norcross has performed many hundreds of shows around the region over the years, including 59 concerts in Vermont State Parks over the past 13 years, 16 First Night Burlington shows, six appearances at the WOKO Country Club Music Festivals at the Champlain Valley Fairgrounds, four performances on Vermont Day at the Eastern States Expositon and 24 times prior to Vermont’s largest fireworks show on Burlington’s Waterfront on the 3rd of July.

In May of 2010, Rick was invited to perform a solo 10-day tour of British folk clubs in Murcia, Spain by Hugh Aldous, an old friend who booked him into folk clubs in England back in the 60s. The experience rekindled his love of playing folk venues. He has since performed at house concerts, Vermont History Expo, The Music Box, The Palmer Street Coffeehouse, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and at the UU Dome in Tampa, Florida.

Rick &The All-Star Ramblers perform mainly at outdoor fairs, festivals, special events and private parties during the Summer and Fall out of Burlington, Vermont and durng the Winter season, Rick performs solo at smaller folk-oriented venues .

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Taryn Noelle - Vocals

Vocalist Taryn Noelle is the Ramblers’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Taryn was invited to join the Ramblers nine years ago to bring her sultry voice, her commanding stage presence and her audience-melting smile to our stages. She was featured on four terrific songs on the award-winning “Riding My Guitar” CD, “Back In Baby’s Arms,” “Wurlitzer Prize,” “The Best Things In Life Are Free” and “Full Moon Full Of Love” and is gaining a growing legion of fans who just love to hear her sing.

“Luminous, Evocative, Poignant and Soulful” are words spoken about this talented young singer, actress, dancer and choreographer. Originally from Toronto, Taryn has studied dance, theatre and voice with acclaimed New York and Vermont vocal teacher Bill Reed and at the renowned Circle in the Square Theatre School in New York City. After years of playing leading roles in American Musical Theatre, she returned to Vermont to focus on her love of singing, playing on her considerable talent as a jazz and cabaret vocalist. In addition to her velvet-smooth vocalist performances, she also works locally and regionally as a dance teacher, choreographer and stage and film actor. She was showered with rave reviews for her lead performance as Sally Bowles in “Cabaret” at the University of Vermont’s Royal Tyler Theater. Some favorite onstage roles to date have been; Grace in Vermont Stage Company’s production of Opus and as Dominique in The Skinner Barn’s production of Lucky Stiff.

In addition to her sweet vocals on the past three Rick &The All-Star Ramblers’ CD projects, Taryn has recorded two of her own jazz CDs and frequently performs with the very fab jazz vocal trio, The Blue Gardenias. Rambler Taryn Noelle is simply... Terrific.

Learn more about Taryn by visiting her Web Site: www.tarynnoelle.com

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Julia Shannon-Grillo

Julia Shannon-Grillo, a vocalist with Rick &The All-Star Ramblers Western Swing Band, is the yougest member of the band at 12 years of age. Julia has been singing with the band for the past six years, much to the delight of the band’s youngest fans.

Julia was part of the Rambler delegation who traveled from Vermont to Dallas, Texas last March for the 2014 Academy of Western Artists Will Rogers Award Banquet. Julia was invited to sing at the annual Billy Bowles AWA Friday Night Jam Session with Ramblers Rick &Dave handling the background harmonies. Julia did the Ramblers proud and met many of the young female vocalists at the jam session who also appreciated her performance.

Julia is the featured vocalist on a special song on the “Riding My Guitar” CD about dealing with the gridlock shutdown of Congress called “I Don’t Want To Play With You Any More.” The song puts the situation into proper perspective presented in playground language and was written for Julia by Rambler Rick on April Fool’s Day, 2013 and recorded in mid-April at Lane Gibson Recording &Mastering Studio in Charlotte, Vermont. It was the last song recorded for the “Riding My Guitar” CD sessions and it has proven to be a big hit with audiences every time Julia performs the song on Rick &The All Star Ramblers concert dates. Julia sings several Patsy Cline songs on the shows, bringing smiles to her many fans, including Miro Weinberger, Mayor of Burlington.

Julia attends Edmunds Junior High School in Burlington where she is involved in the chorus program and is the daughter of Joan Shannon, President of the Burlington City Council in Vermont’s largest city.

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Josie Ritter

Josie came to the Ramblers back in 2009 when she was invited to help out the Ramblers as a vocalist sub at Vermont Day at the Big E in West Springfirld, MA. Josie has a great ear and a terrific voice to match and it was a delight to have her on the stage with us, if only as a substitute performer. When the “Riding My Guitar” project was in the planning stages, Josie was invited to sing harmonies on the sessions and after the CD release show, just continued on with the band for the entire season on Rick’s 50th anniversary tour of 2013. And here she is, three years later, still a full-fledged All-Star Rambler.

Josie is a longtime member of the popular band, Mango Jam and so far has been able to sing with both bands, as the schedules have allowed. She loves western swing music and has the style down perfectly, as her performances prove. Josie lives in Sudbury, Vermont and is our “Southern Belle.”

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Charlie MacFadyen - Piano, Accordion & Lap Steel

In the tradition of the late, great Light Crust Doughboys piano player Knocky Parker, Charlie MacFadyen is the musical backbone of Rick &The Rambers. Whether he’s building the energy with his masterful piano playing, his western accordion moves and now, with his 1950s lap steel guitar, Charlie gets the Rambers and the audience swinging. Charlie is a gifted musical arranger and was the guiding hand on all the arrangements on “I Rode The Ti,” “Riding My Guitar” and the new songs on “Welcome To OUR Vermont” CD projects. Charlie and Rick co-wrote “Don’t Make Me Beg” and “Here’s Yer Hat, What’s Yer Hurry,” both standout tunes on the new CDs, sung by Rambler Dave Rowell.

Charlie was educated at Oberlin College (math &music) and formerly was the piano player for the Burlington rockabilly and swing band Buck &the Black Cats.

Originally from New York, Charlie has lived in Burlington since 1992 and by day is a high school math teacher and techie at CVU in Hinesburg. Besides holding down the stage right position on the Ramblers’ team, Charlie plays accordion with the yacht rock band, The Full Cleveland.

He prefers the old-fashioned swing, boogie and honky-tonk piano styles in the tradition of Moon Mullican and Al Stricklin which fits the sound of the Ramblers like a sequined glove.

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Doug Reid - Fiddle

Rambler Doug Reid is known around these parts as the King of the Double Stop style of fiddle. Doug keeps the Ramblers swinging with his impeccable rhythm and his traditional western swing-influenced style of fiddling. Doug started violin lessons at fourteen while listening to jazz/swing master Stephane Grappelli. Doug says he’s excited to be at the stage in his career when he can devote himself to the finer points of this lyrical style. Classically trained, he spent many years as a touring side man in country &western bands out of Southern California, Austin, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia. He has opened for many major acts in country music. While living in Texas, he studied jazz and composition at North Texas State University and played with several of Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys, including Joe Holley and Johnny Gimble.

Doug spent seven years as a feature performer on the Jim Stafford Show, in Branson, Missouri, where he was alternately comedy writer, arranger, Music Director, and head of Special Effects. Doug performed with the Paris Swing Orchestra of New York for four years at the annual Bastille Day Celebration on 60th Street. He returned home to Vermont in 1999 and currently resides in Wheelock in the Northeast Kingdom where he is the duly-elected Town Clerk.

Doug wishes to thank Oren Kronick & Kathy Reilly, proprietors, and Jim Banicki, head luthier, at the 'Vermont Violins & The Burlington Violin Shop' at 23 Church Street in Burlington for the loan of a custom built violin Doug played on the “Welcome To OUR Vermont” recording sessions and “for making such a sweet fiddle in our home state!”

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Dono Schabner - Lead Guitar

Dono Schabner is the star playing the lead guitar position on the Rambler team. If you have not seen or heard Dono at one of our live shows, maybe you have already marveled at his sterling lead guitar performances on our three recent CD projects. Dono Schabner is one of those rare musicians who can play any style of music without breaking a sweat. Maybe it’s because he started playing guitar at the age of 12 in Italian weddings bands in his Long Island hometown. Maybe it’s because he has a wicked good ear and the fingers to make it happen. Maybe it’s that beautiful vintage Gibson hollow-body guitar he has been bringing to gigs lately. Or maybe it’s the way he makes that magical connection from his heart through his fingers on his Fender Telecaster. Whichever it is, it sure works like a well-oiled, soulful music machine on the Rambler stages when his solos come around! And Dono is the all-important third piece of the section work that pushes the rhythm and the melody so prominently to the front in the Western Swing style of music.

Dono lives in Morrisville and works in the Northeast Kingdom as an educational techie between musical gigs with a variety of Vermont musicians, including Will Patton and Carole Ann Jones.

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Dave Rowell - Vocals & Bass Guitar

By day, an unassuming account executive with Morrisville country music station WLVB, a successful north country realtor and a spirited country auctioneer. By night and onstage... one wicked talented bass player and spot-on lead and harmony vocalist. Dave Rowell brings more than 20 years experience as a longtime member of one of Central Vermont and the Northeast Kingdom’s favorite traditional country bands, the WDEV Radio Rangers. The WDEV Radio Rangers have performed on the air every Saturday morning at 10:30 on WDEV for over 25 years and are still a favorite at community events all over the region.

Dave hails from East Craftsbury where his musical roots run deep. His family founded the Craftsbury Chamber Players over 40 years ago and his sister Mary is Concertmaster at Radio City Music Hall in New York City and occasionally tours with Cheryl Crow. Dave brings a love of real country music to the table and knows more songs than an iPod Classic. He has quickly become a favorite vocalist on Rambler shows in addition to holding down the bass position in the rhythm section.

Dave is a smooth as Grade Fancy Maple Syrup lead vocalist in addition to being an exceptional harmony vocalist. He is featured singing two songs on the “Riding My Guitar” CD, “Don’t Make Me Beg” and “Walking Around Money,” and “Here’s Yer Hat, What’s Yer Hurry” on the newest CD project, “Welcome To OUR Vermont.” All three songs were written especially for Dave by Rambler Rick to showcase Dave’s crowd-melting vocal delivery on the record projects.

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Ian Koeller - Drums

Welcome to the newest Rambler, drummer Ian Koeller, our first-ever second-generation Rambler. Ian’s late father, Eric Koeller, played that wonderful baritone sax break on “Paint It Like A Cow,” recorded at White Crow Audio in Burlington way back in 1994 for our “Can’t Catch A Rambler” CD project, produced by LeRoy Preston. “Paint It Like A Cow” was co-written by Rick and LeRoy Preston and had to be included on the latest “Welcome To OUR Vermont” CD. Ian tagged along with his Dad on many Rambler shows back in the mid-90s and as a young boy, became enamored with the drums, as played back then by longtime Rambler percussionist Doug Pomeroy.

Fast forward 21 years and Ian Koeller has become one of the Vermont music scene’s most in-demand drummers both on stage and in the recording studio. Ian plays in several bands performing shows all over the North Country, in New York City and, now, as the newest member of Rick &The All-Star Ramblers Western Swing Band.

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