Vocalist and saxophone player Scott Ramminger carves out a honky-tonk style repertoire on his fourth release, Alive and Ornery. Recorded live at a Washington, D.C. nightclub, the music blends elements of blues, country-folk, and Tex-Mex flavors. Ramminger accomplishes to compose earthy arrangements with lyrics that intimate a candid off-the-cuff banter.
The sauntering stride of keyboardists Ariel Francis and Wes Lanich emit a country-folk vibe, and they are partnered with Ramminger’s cool vocal strut which resonates a bluesy rock sonorance. Guitarists Clarence “Bluesman” Turner, David Hitcher, and Keith Grimes imprint the numbers with images of various Americana-coated scores. They are joined by the comfy tempo of drummer Pete Ragusa and bassist Chris Brown.
Vince McCool’s trumpet sculpts a series of sensual strokes along “That Rumba Beat,” as the Latin hues of the guitars give the number a poetic versing. The sprightly musings of Lanich’s keys along “Do What Your Heart Says To” have a Jerry Lee Lewis nimbleness, while “Linda Lu” showcases Ramminger’s bluesy timbres both in his vocals and tooting saxophone. The R&B gait of the rhythm section along “Nasty Habits” is spruced in cool jazz trimmings from the smooth funky beats of Brown’s bass and the jutting chord patterns of Turner’s guitar.
Numbers like “It’s Hard to Be Me” and “Advice from a Father to a Son” are conducive to honky-tonk settings, emanating a conversational tone in the lyrics and barreling along with a country-blues zest in the instrumentation. The smooth blues aesthetics of “Rebecca Rebecca” rise to the level of a gospel tune, and the twizzling notes of the saxophone joined by the toe-tapping beats of “This Town’s Seen the Last of Me” radiate a rockabilly thrust. The shimmying keys along “Josephine” glint a Tex-Mex flare, and the soft howl of the saxophone in “Lizabeth” spark a bawdy jazz tang.
Scott Ramminger coats his southern country twang with rations of R&B/blues, rockabilly, honky-tonk, and Tex-Mex atmospherics. The recording is based in folk-tinged conventions and amasses a breadth of unconventional country-blues forms.
Scott Ramminger – vocals, sax, Pete Ragusa – drums, Chris Brown – bass, Vince McCool – trumpet, Ariel Francis – keys, Wes Lanich – keys, Clarence “Bluesman” Turner – guitar, David Hitcher – guitar, Keith Grimes – guitar