New Lost City Ramblers
|Origin||New York City, New York, United States|
|Mike Seeger |
The New Lost City Ramblers, or NLCR, is a contemporary old-time string band that formed in New York City in 1958 during the Folk Revival. Mike Seeger, John Cohen, and Tom Paley were its founding members. Tracy Schwarz replaced Paley, who left the group in 1962.  Seeger died of cancer in 2009, and Paley died in 2017. NLCR participated in the old-time music revival, and continued to directly influence many later musicians.
The Ramblers distinguished themselves by focusing on the traditional playing styles they heard on old 78rpm records of musicians recorded during the 1920s and 1930s, many of whom had earlier appeared on the Anthology of American Folk Music. The New Lost City Ramblers refused to "sanitize" these southern sounds as did other folk groups of the time, such as the Weavers or Kingston Trio. Instead, the Ramblers have always strived for an authentic sound. However, the Ramblers did not merely copy the old recordings that inspired them. Rather, they would use the various old-time styles they encountered while at the same time not becoming slaves to imitation.
On Songs From the Depression, the New Lost City Ramblers performed a variety of popular political songs from the New Deal days, all but one of them taken from commercially issued 78s, and that one is "Keep Moving," identified in the album notes only as "from Tony Schwartz's collection — singer unidentified"  when actually it is by Agnes "Sis" Cunningham, the full title being "How Can You Keep On Moving (Unless You Migrate Too)." The omission later caused Ry Cooder, who listened to the Ramblers album, to record the song as Traditional on the first edition of his Into the Purple Valley album, an omission he gladly corrected when informed of it. Cooder also covered another song from the same New Lost City Ramblers album, which he may have heard on a poorly labeled cassette copy: "Taxes on the Farmer Feeds Us All" which the New Lost City Ramblers credit to Fiddling John Carson but which the Cooder notes still list as "traditional." The same is true of the track "Boomer's Story," covered by the Ramblers--Cooder credits it as "traditional," but the song was written by Carson Robison and first recorded by him in 1929 under the title "The Railroad Boomer."
The group drifted apart during the latter half of the 60s. Schwarz and Seeger performed with different musicians and together formed the short lived Strange Creek Singers.
Rather than ape their immediate predecessors who popularized the style, the trio preferred to invoke the music's original proponents, including Gid Tanner And His Skillet Lickers and the Carolina Tar Heels.