For this iteration of our biannual Rockport Folk Summit we are veering into the bluesier side of the roots spectrum, presenting the gritty hill country groove of the Tarbox Ramblers and the soulful sounds of Jesse Dee.
Taking listeners to a place where Appalachian music, backwoods blues and rock ‘n’ roll meet in powerful, ever-changing combinations, The Tarbox Ramblers channel the ghosts of Charlie Patton, Bo Diddley and the torch singers of countless long-gone dives and roadhouses. Learn more
Led by the gravelly-voiced guitarist Michael Tarbox, the Ramblers’ caveman rhythms, hillbilly violin and charismatic barbwire guitar led The Washington Post to call them “a force of nature.” Yet the Ramblers can be a surprisingly lyrical band, playing more than a few lushly atmospheric songs that testify to bandleader Michael Tarbox’s growing strength as a writer. Listen to The Tarbox Ramblers and you’ll hear musicians with an abiding sense of all that’s dangerous, dark and fun in American music. Guided by the spirit of Billie Holiday, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Geeshie Wiley and Dock Boggs, to name a few, their work values authentic emotion above all. The band’s rough-hewn sound is the perfect vehicle for getting their message across.
The Tarbox Ramblers have released two albums on the Rounder label, toured throughout North America and Europe, and shared the stage with Robert Plant, Alison Krauss and more. For this night, they will be presenting as an acoustic trio format with Michael Tarbox on guitar and vocals, Jim Haggerty playing standup bass; and Daniel Kellar on violin.
“Intoxicatingly original”- Boston Globe
Boston’s Jesse Dee is a singing, songwriting, guitar-playing soul man-a modern day trailblazer inspired by the old school with his warm sound, instantly memorable melodies and positive, slice-of-life lyrics (evoking the heyday of the Brill Building songwriters).
Born in 1980 in Boston, MA, Dee grew up in nearby Arlington, and despite singing throughout his childhood, didn’t pick up his first guitar until he was 18. With help from his musically inclined father and The Bob Dylan Six-Chord Songbook, he taught himself the instrument well enough to start performing as a solo artist a year later. Dee attended Massachusetts College of Art And Design, studying illustration, performance, production, mixed-media and composition. He sang with the ten-piece ensemble Decifunk, and toured up and down the East Coast. In the early 2000’s he even lent his voice to rock ‘n’ roll band The Dirty Whites before starting his own group. He released his first album, Bittersweet Batch, in 2008, and heads immediately began turning.
The success of the record allowed Dee and his band to travel beyond Boston, making new converts in Washington, DC, New York, Philadelphia, Nashville, and Chicago. He first toured the Netherlands, the UK and Italy in 2009 before heading back again the following two years, this time adding Ireland, Belgium, Germany, France and Spain to his itinerary. Dee has opened for soul greats Al Green, Solomon Burke, Etta James, Bettye LaVette, and blues rockers Los Lobos and the J. Geils Band, and has shared stages many times with fellow soul singer James Hunter.
“upbeat and soulful”- NY Daily News