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|Bart Ramseys powerful lyrics & melodies, and Neti Vaans passionate fiddle playing combine in a repertoire that flows easily from folk-jazz to country-blues to roots-rock. This is World Music seen through a Louisiana lens, with outstanding original songs, plus border-hopping fiddle tunes and songs in traditional styles, including cajun, mexican, texican, and swing.|
|"Ramsey's artistic signature defies conventionality. While others often lead you through landmines of life's dark side, Ramsey's similar portrayals become so intriguing, you have to wonder what makes this songsmith tick... The arrangements, featuring Ramsey's maestro piano playing and Neti Vaan's haunting, soulful fiddling, are highly melodic, packed with exquisite playing."|
|~ Offbeat, New Orleans|
|"Ils forment à eux deux une extraordinaire association aux vertus stimulants, qui rassemble diverses traditions musicales venues du monde entier et véhicule une énergie, un enthousiasme et une grande intelligence musicale."|
|~ Le Télégramme, France|
|Originally from Chicago, singer/songwriter and piano player BART RAMSEY has lived in New Orleans for half his life, give or take a few years in West Africa, Central America, and Europe. His first professional gig was in Bamenda, Cameroon, when he became the regular organist for the traveling Nigerian band "Jerry Cooper and the Jark Brothers." Once the band dissolved, he moved to New Orleans to write a couple of novels and soak up the music of his adopted hometown. Bart is a prolific songwriter with twisted tales to tell and an offbeat sense of humor. He writes in styles ranging from smooth New Orleans swing, including the quirky love song "The Lady I Hated to Lose"; to New Orleans Mambo, as in "Dont Rain on My Mardi Gras"; to country blues, as in the abductionbyaliens shuffle "I Thought It Was God But It Was Only a UFO." His lyrics have been described as "vivid, evocative mini-epics." Barts singing voice has a personable, bluesy quality. Besides piano, he also performs on guitar and accordion, and records with a variety of other instruments, including harmonica, jaw harp, glockenspiel and percussion. He has done session work on piano, accordion and/or hammond organ for many local recording artists, including Mike West, Jonno Frishberg, Denise Marie, and Martin Simpson & Jessica Radcliffe. He also performs and records with Austin producer and performing artist Rob Halverson, with whom he has recently cowritten a record. He was a founding member of the award winning New Orleans gypsy swing band Vavavoom, which has since disbanded. He continues to play locally in New Orleans under various guises, including New Orleans Gypsy Jazz All Stars.|
|Fiddler NETI VAAN is fascinated by the varied fiddle traditions she has encountered on her musical journey. She started her travels at an early age, when her family moved from the Netherlands to Texas by way of Uganda and Kenya. In Texas she took up the violin, and couldnt help but be influenced by the local western swing, tex-mex and bluegrass styles. After many years of honing her skills as a street musician on sidewalks from New Orleans to San Francisco, living in a converted Dodge van as a modern-day nomad, Neti moved to London in 1987. She went there to visit a friend and stayed long enough to become a founding member of the folkroots bands "Companions of the Rosy Hours," "Bill Caddicks Urban Legend" and "Zumzeaux." For six years she toured throughout the UK fulltime, appearing at art centers, folk clubs, village halls and festivals, as well as on BBC radio and TV (including fiddler Aly Bains "Shetland Sessions"). She accompanied renowned American tapdancer/clogger Ira Bernstein on several of his British tours. In her work with Bart Ramsey, she adapts easily to the wide range of styles, and draws on her extensive repertoire of traditional and original fiddle tunes. Besides spoton harmonies, her vocal contributions range from offbeat swing numbers to Cajun and French chansons. Neti has made guest appearances on CDs by artists such as Michelle Shocked, Andy Cronshaw, Rory McLeod, Rob Halverson, and Myshkin. Her interest in twin fiddling and traditional fiddle styles led to her recording "Toonzville," featuring Bart Ramsey as well as many other fine musicians. From 2002-2006 she was a member of the popular "New Orleans Jazz Vipers," and recorded and co-produced three CDs with the band. 2005-2008 she was a founder member of New Orleans gypsy swing band Vavavoom, and recorded and co-produced two CDs with them. For the past many years in New Orleans she has performed regularly with various local Cajun bands, and with Patrice Fishers "Arpa" (a latin jazz & celtic harp based band). She recently finished renovating her flood-damaged home in New Orleans. Her latest endeavour is to produce a CD of songs written by promising young composer/musician Ayla Miller, at the Word of Mouth Studio in Algiers. Exciting new projects are on the horizon.|
|Since they started working together in 1994, Bart Ramsey and Neti Vaan divided their time between home in Louisiana, and touring in Europe for two or three months every summer. They have worked primarily in Britain, France, and more recently Italy. Ramsey & Vaan have recorded several albums while in New Orleans, collaborating with many fine local musicians such as Rob Halverson (Robinson Ear Machine), Charlie Miller (Dr. John), Anders Osborne, Tim Paco, and Johnny Vidacovitch (Astral Project). After Katrina, they continued to tour in France and Italy every summer through 2007. In 2005 they formed the band "Vavavoom" (winners of a Best of the Beat award from Offbeat, New Orleans in 2007) with guitarists Pierre Pichon and Raphael Bas. The band has recorded two CDs.
Vavavoom disbanded in 2008.
Currently, Ramsey & Vaan are taking a break from touring together and are pursuing separate projects.
"LIVE IN ITALIA," Bart Ramsey & 39 Strangers, featuring Neti Vaan. Recorded in Forli, Italy; produced by Bart Ramsey and Antonio Gramentieri, released in August 2006.
"TOONZVILLE," Neti Vaan. Recorded in New Orleans and Austin, Texas; produced by Neti Vaan, released in 2006.
"AMNESIA CAFE," Bart Ramsey. Recorded in New Orleans, produced by Bart Ramsey, released in 2005.
"IN SEARCH OF A CHEAP HOTEL," Ramsey & Vaan. Recorded in New Orleans, produced by Ramsey & Vaan, released in 2001.
"LITTLE RED WAGON," Bart Ramsey & Neti Vaan. Recorded in New Orleans, produced by Ramsey & Vaan, released 1999.
"PRINCE OF SANITY," Bart Ramsey solo. Recorded in New Orleans, produced by Louie Ludwig and Anders Osborne, released in 1997.
"ZING ZANG," Bart Ramsey & Neti Vaandrager, with Rob Halverson. Recorded in New Orleans, produced by Ramsey & Vaan, released in 1996.
|Bart Ramseys song "Dont Rain on my Mardi Gras," from the CD "In Search of a Cheap Hotel," was included in a Red Hot Records of Louisiana compilation of Mardi Gras music released in 2003.|
LIVE IN ITALIA : "This CD was recorded live in Forli, Italy at the Strade Blu music festival in August 2005. Violinist Neti Vaan and several Italian musicians join singer/songwriter/pianist Bart Ramsey on stage to play 13 of his songs. For a live recording, the sound is incredible, with a great mix by Rob Halverson in Austin, Texas.
Ramsey is a clever songwriter who writes original tunes in many diverse styles. Every song on this album is in a different style, from country to funk to European swing to blues to klezmer to New Orleans Mardi Gras mambo and even a rumba. Ramsey shines on the gypsy tune “All The Way Down,” which has a delightful, drunken sound that is achieved in part by being in two time signatures with the chorus being a waltz. The players move gracefully from style to style, peppering each song with musical nuance, and Vaan’s violin playing is consistently lively and lovely.
Ramsey’s lyrics are amusing, even if the subject matter is philosophical, as in the ballad “Although” when he makes light of many perplexing paradoxes, singing, “Although I think I’m really close / I’m probably really far away.” Ramsey takes enjoyment in his word play and his playing. His sense of humor is pervasive, and you get the feeling that he is winking at you, letting you in on the fun."
|~ Ruby Masters, Offbeat, New Orleans 2007|
|IN SEARCH OF A CHEAP HOTEL: "Its expected that songwriters will bare their soul, leaving no secrets behind while performing their craft, but perhaps not in the same manner as Bart Ramsey. As one half of the New Orleanian duo Ramsey & Vaan, Ramseys artistic signature defies conventionality. While others often lead you through landmines of life's dark side, Ramsey's similar portrayals become so intriguing, you have to wonder what makes this songsmith tick.|
Theres frequently a mysterious air wafting about his songs, like the line, "write a Chinese letter in the afternoon" as heard on the title song. (Is it a single Chinese letter, a letter written in Chinese or one that's in the post to China?) Or how about the unexpected lyrical twists that revel in their own whimsy--"Well I might go to heaven/and I might go to hell/And I might go to Shreveport/jukin for a spell" on "Three Marias." Indeed, Ramseys lyrics are never predictable, marked by clever word plays that abound throughout such as "I won't say that you taste good or that you got good taste" on the finger-snappin' "Spanish Wine and Black Coffee."
Like other songwriters darkish outlooks, Ramsey has those too, such as tales of addiction on "The Stuff," whose drama is only heightened by Charlie Millers emotive trumpet solo. Yet for such soul-baring, there's plenty of countering levity, especially "Rough Around the Edges," a song many open-collared guys could raise an exuberant fist for. The arrangements, featuring Ramseys maestro piano playing and Neti Vaans haunting, soulful fiddling, are highly melodic, packed with exquisite playing. As a vocalist, Vaan is equally engaging, swinging and singing the Cab Calloway popularized tune "A Chicken Ain't Nothin' But a Bird," one of the few non-originals heard here.
Between introspective examinations, the couple adroitly plays border-less multi-cultural instrumentals like Bill Monroe's "Jerusalem Ridge," a gypsy jazz romper "Fin De Siecle," and the Celtic-flavored "Sergeant Early's Dream." It all exceeds expectations, especially guitarist Rob Halversons tasty playing on the later. The closing tune, "Rubens Dream," is the perfect nightcap with its classical Pachelbelian-like textures. And you thought you knew all of New Orleans musical treasures."
|~ Dan Willging, Offbeat, New Orleans, LA|
|IN SEARCH OF A CHEAP HOTEL: This is a second collection of rootsy original songs, together with a few instrumentals, from a duo - Bart on piano and guitar, Neti on fiddle - who would appear to be based in New Orleans, since theyve garnered plenty of enthusiastic local musicians to produce an enticing and typically wide-ranging gumbo that effortlessly takes in its stride texmex, mardigras, hotclub, gypsy bluegrass, country and barroom swing. Despite the focus of Barts own lyrics being on the human spiritual dilemma, wanderlust, and addiction, there's often a defiantly ironic sense of fun pervading both arrangements and delivery...The non-originals here, including Bill Monroes Jerusalem Ridge and Emmet Wallaces priceless Chicken Ain't Nothing But a Bird, are given very stylish treatment. Playing is several cuts above the average throughout, and there are also some intriguing, curious but effective instrumental touches. The whole album is very enjoyable...somehow I found myself better able to face the world by the end of the CD, which must count for something!|
|~ David Kidman, FROOTS, UK|
|LITTLE RED WAGON: The New Orleans folk duos sound runs the gamut like no other, spanning across folk, cosmic country, Western swing, jazz and gypsy, all melded together into some kind of esoteric concoction that works well. The humors wonderfully dry, but Ramsey can strike an introspective mood. The other side of the duos personality lies in their delightful, unorthodox melodies. Through it all, Vaans fiddling flows freely and similarly, this bunch of merrymakers never feels constrained.td>|
|~ Dan Willging, Offbeat, New Orleans|
|LITTLE RED WAGON: File under roots rock advises the back cover of Bart Ramsey and Neti Vaans new album, but that scarcely tells the story of Little Red Wagon, an adventurous album from the New Orleans pair that zings, zangs, and zungs from cabaret jazz to fiddle reels to gypsy ballads to country, folk, and yes, roots rock.|
|~ Jay Harding, The Austin Chronicle, Austin,Texas|
|LITTLE RED WAGON: American Roots music par excellence...Neti easily adapts to the many styles in which Bart writes his excellent songs. Barts gritty voice blends well with the tough lyrics he likes to write, and when added to the sweeter tones of Netis harmonies, the sound is irresistible...this duo are very special.|
|~ Tony Slinger, Venue, UK|