Though it's not common for bluegrass bands to play rock covers, the Carroll County Ramblers aren't exactly your average bluegrass outfit.
So hold on for dear life, because the Ramblers will take Smyrna on a high-octane ride with a soundtrack that could span anything from a rock cover to an original tune about an epic train wreck, at the Smyrna Opera House on Nov. 10.
Named after the county in Maryland where the band is based (Carroll County), the current roster of the Ramblers is comprised of a four-piece that's been grooving together for three years. The outfit is led by longtime members and siblings Dale Eyler (frontman and fiddler) and Bonnie (bass), whose parents founded the group in 1961.
Hungry to take the band to new heights, a glaring example of how the new Ramblers are pushing the envelope further is by weaving Creedance Clearwater Revival's 1960s rock song "Proud Mary" into their repertoire. Aside from Creedance, Tina & Ike Turner also tackled the song and made it famous.
"[When] my mom and dad started out, at that time, they started out playing a lot of traditional bluegrass songs," said Dale, 49, who's been a Rambler since the age of 15. 'I think we've gone a step further.'"
To give "Proud Mary" some oomph, the Ramblers play a rendition that's light-years faster than the original.
"You don't hear ['Proud Mary'] a lot," banjoist Steve Waldon Jr., 28, said of bluegrass bands.
Waldon — who's the youngest of the Ramblers, as well as a madman on the banjo who swiftly plucks strings like it's nobody's business — got the idea to incorporate "Proud Mary" into the Ramblers' catalog when he heard a bluegrass band cover it awhile back, he added.
Another cover in the Ramblers' repertoire is "Lime House Blues," a famous jazz standard by Douglas Furber (lyrics) and Philip Brahan (music). The legendary tune has been performed by jazz legends like Louis Armstrong and Django Reinhardt, as well as other bluegrass bands, most notably the duo Reno and Smiley.
An original favorite by the Ramblers is "The Story of the Ransom Wreck," a song based on a historic train wreck that occurred in 1905 when two trains collided in Ransom, a small town in Carroll County, where several passengers were killed, Bonnie said.
"Dale said I want to do a train song and I did the research on the train wreck," explained Bonnie, 60, who's been a Rambler for 42 years.
Page 2 of 2 - Another Rambler original is the silly song "Auctioneer," a throttling tune in which guitarist Dave Dulaney assumes the role of a singing auctioneer who takes bids from the audience.
"It's really fast and Bonnie usually says the faster you guys raise your hand and bid on things, the faster Dave will sing," Dale quipped.
At 48, Dulaney, the newest Rambler who joined three years ago, says the 40 years he's spent developing his golden pipes has really helped him to "strengthen my voice and project very well," which truly comes in handy when singing the "Auctioneer".
IF YOU GO
WHAT Carroll County Ramblers in concert
WHEN 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 10
WHERE Smyrna Opera House, 7 West South St., Smyrna
INFO smyrnaoperahouse.org or 653-4236