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Bo Ramsey

A Conversation with Bo Ramsey

Puremusic: So what are you working on up there in Minneapolis?

Bo Ramsey: I'm mixing a new Pieta Brown record.

PM: Oh, really?

BR: Yeah.

PM: And so do you have the lady with you for mixing, or do you do it yourself?

BR: No, she's here. Yep. Yeah, we came in, did a few little overdubs, which she was involved in, and then we're mixing now.

PM: Where did you cut?

BR: Mastermix, Minneapolis.

PM: Ah, nice.

BR: Yeah, tracking and mixing here.

PM: Beautiful.

BR: And this studio is owned and operating by a longtime associate of mine, Tom Tucker. He's mixed every record I've worked on.

PM: Wow. Then you guys go all the way back.

BR: Yeah, we go way back. It's just very comfortable, and we just have a long track record, and total trust.

PM: Yeah, it's all about trust and chemistry, after all.

BR: Yeah, yeah. How are you doing, man?

PM: Man, life's good. I'm just writing a lot, and we're demoing and pitching. And Puremusic is good. Doing a lot of traveling. And helping my brother with his China TV project, so I get to New York and Miami a lot. So yeah, I'm having a good time.

BR: Good. Well, I appreciate you calling, man.

PM: Oh, it's a pleasure to talk with you, feeling about your music the way we do. There are a lot of things I'd like to ask if you, if you got time.

BR: Sure.

Bo Ramsey

PM: Okay. Although your reputation has spread to the corners of the globe, I would say, you're a musician of whom little personally is actually known. Is that not so?

BR: Well, I don't know. I try and always do my best.

PM: I mean, people know something about you musically, but actually who Bo Ramsey is is just not that easy to find out. So if you'll humor me, I do mean to go back a little ways and tug at a few of your personal roots, if that's all right.

BR: Okay, shoot.

PM: For instance, what kind of a family did you come from, and what were you like as a boy growing up in school and stuff?

BR: Well, my family--I'm a really lucky guy. My mother and father, who are still alive, are just absolutely the best parents ever. And my folks are from the South. My dad was born in Richmond, Kentucky, and my mom's from Louisiana.

PM: I see.

BR: And I was born in Iowa. My dad's work took him to Iowa, and I was born in Burlington, Iowa, which is on the Mississippi. But anyway, my folks are both southern. And I have one sister. And I just really kind of have a classic childhood, just a great family. And I was just a normal kid.

PM: Was your sister at all musically inclined?

BR: She plays piano. She's more kind of reads music, which I don't do. But she has a lot of music in her. She's not a professional musician or anything.

PM: It's a nice thing to say, though, "she's got a lot of music in her."

BR: My dad played guitar in a swing band in the '30s.

PM: Oh, wow.

BR: Yeah. And then he gave it up to raise a family and provide for his family, which I have great respect for. He did a magnificent job of that. But he was a guitar player. In fact, he gave me the guitar that he bought in 1934.

PM: What is that guitar?

BR: It's an old Gibson L-7.

PM: Nice.

BR: Which I still have.

PM: You don't ever track with that L-7, do you?

BR: I have done a few little tracks here and there. It's a wonderful guitar, still very playable. I play it at home a lot. I don't take it out very much, just because it's one of my prized possessions.

PM: So being from the '30s, that doesn't have pickups, right?

BR: No. It's an archtop acoustic guitar.

PM: So you just got to mic it, right?

BR: Yeah.

PM: Or do you put a little DeArmond on it, or do you just mic it?

BR: Yeah, I did that for a few years, I put a DeArmond on it. I actually played it out for a while back in the early '80s. But then I thought, I'm going to leave this guitar at home. I don't want anything to happen to it. But anyway, that's pretty much what was going on then.

PM: So how has your personality changed over time, or are you a lot like the kid that you were growing up, or did your personality morph in some major way?

BR: Well, I don't know, man. I mean, I think I'm basically the same person, just older and hopefully a little wiser.

         Bo Ramsey with Dave Moore

PM: Do you see yourself more as a sideman, or your own artist, a producer of sounds or artists, or all or none of the above?

BR: All of the above. Yeah, I'm a musician first. For a while I really kind of worked at songwriting. I've been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with some real songwriters, and I'm not really in that category. I've written a few decent songs, but I'm not a real songwriter like some of the people I've worked with.

PM: Well, you've worked with some amazing songwriters, that's for sure.

BR: Yeah. And then producing is another thing I am passionate about, and really enjoy doing--it's an ongoing process. But I love that work. And I love playing a good song.

PM: [laughs] Yeah. Well, I love to hear you play a good song, few play them the way you do.   continue

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