Hackberry Ramblers: making music since 1933
November 11, 1997
Web posted at: 11:33 a.m. EST (1633 GMT)
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Many baby boomers are impressed that Mick
Jagger and the Rolling Stones are still performing now that
they're in their 50s. But those grizzled veterans have
nothing on the Hackberry Ramblers.
The Ramblers describe themselves as a
Cajun/country/rockabilly band. If you haven't heard of them,
it can't be because they're too new to have caught your
attention. After all, some of their members were making
music before Jagger was even born.
"The Hackberry Ramblers were founded in 1933 by Mr. Luderin
Darbone, this gentlemen over here," said band member Ben
Sandmel. "They were living in the small oilfield town of
Hackberry, Louisiana. That's where the band gets its name."
Since the band started nearly 65 years ago, they have played
everything from local dance halls and nursing homes to music
festivals around the United States. A few years shy of 50,
Ben, the drummer, is the baby of the band. The other
Ramblers range in age from their 60s to their 80s, including
the two founding members.
Darbone, one of the founding members, is 84 years old. But
as his bandmates and audiences agree, he doesn't play like an
old man. Neither do any of the other musicians in the band.
They say that what keeps them going is the same thing that
keeps audiences coming -- the music.
"They enjoy it, and we enjoy playing for them," said Johnny
Bandmate Glen Croker agreed. "We're a band that's versatile
enough that we can give different people different songs, and
we can probably satisfy the entire crowd," Croker said.
"If we play out in the country for an older crowd," Sandmel
said, "they might be line-dancing. We play a place in New
Orleans where everybody's got dyed hair and body-piercing and
tattoos, then we do a lot of rockabilly stuff."
"Deep Water," the Ramblers' most recent release, is on
compact disc. While formats have changed over the years, the
band recorded their first release on a disk as well, back in
"At that time, we'd record with one microphone, and we'd
surround the microphone -- four players. And they used a wax
disk," Darbone said.
The Ramblers' Croker says they will continue recording and
touring, "As long as God lets us."
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