Berkeley, 1961


New Lost City Ramblers:
40 Years of Concert Performances

Rounder Records

Some of NLCR's most memorable performances from the past four decades. 48 tracks. [more]


I listened to The New Lost City Ramblers. Everything about them appealed to me — their style, their singing, their sound. I liked the way they looked, the way they dressed and especially I liked their name. Their songs ran the gamut in styles, everything from from mountain ballads to fiddle tunes and railroad blues. All their songs vibrated with some dizzy, portentous truth. I’d stay with The Ramblers for days. At the time, I didn’t know that they were replicating everything they did off old 78 records, but what would it have mattered anyway? It wouldn’t have mattered at all. For me, they had originality in spades, were men of mystery on all counts. I couldn’t listen to them enough." –Bob Dylan from "Chronicles"

For the introduction to their latest 2001 recording " New Lost City Ramblers, 40 years of concert performances" Jon Pancake wrote:

"In their forty years on the stages of the folksong revival, The New Lost City Ramblers have played three roles, ones essential not only to their own development as our finest city performers of folk music, but also to the development of the revival itself. In the late Eisenhower years, the NLCR began their career as the mad young turks of folk music, bringing to the sedate scene of 1958 two elements heretofore missing. First, to audiences politely bored with bland croonings of "I Gave My Love a Cherry", "Waltzing Matilda" and "The Banana Boat Song" they brought a fresh, aggressively vernacular rural repertoire of spunky songs such as " Brown's Ferry Blues" and the "Battleship of Maine" and they first introduced to the city the full array of country instrumental techniques- master picking that few but Pete Seeger had investigated before them.

During the 1960s in their second role the NLCR presented to city audiences not only the music but the actual performers of the rural south, traveling and giving concerts and workshops with masters such as Tom Ashley, the Stanley Brothers, Cousin Emmy, Maybelle Carter, Elizabeth Cotten, Dock Boggs, Roscoe Holcomb, Tommy Jarell, and the Balfa Brothers.

For forty years now the New Lost City Ramblers have given us a great gift. They have returned to us music of our own which in our great modern haste we had lost or forgotten- lost in the discographies of out-of-print 78 RPM hillbilly and blues discs.....For forty years the NLCR have shown us the red blood in our lost souls, dusting off "The Battleship of Maine" as a Vietnam draft commentary, recalling "Pretty Boy Floyd" for audiences rediscovering the Bonnie-and-Clyde era of rural lawlessness, offering "The Farmer's Curst Wife" as a women's liberation anthem, and continuing to reveal the inextricable Anglo- and African American origins of American music. From our perspective of forty years we can now see that all along they have played a role greater than we had imagined, that of national poets who, like the poets of all times and peoples, have shaped and nurtured our collective imaginations around its truest, deepest roots."

The NLCR have received Grammy nominations for two of their more than 25 recordings.

For a complete list of recordings by the New Lost City Ramblers, see Recordings/Album Notes/Articles