Steve Wong, Times-News correspondent
| Hendersonville Times-News
The JackTown Ramblers are four guys who have fun with bluegrass with a twist of swing and gypsy jazz. The regional band will play from 3-6 p.m. Saturday at Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards in Hendersonville.
I noticed that your band has played in Hendo several times lately. But the band is based in Marion. What brings you to Hendo these days?
We love playing in the Hendersonville and Asheville areas. There are a lot of great music venues, wineries, etc. to play in that area, and we seem to have a pretty good following.
We frequent a couple of really nice wineries and a cider place in Hendersonville — Point Lookout Vineyards being one of them and Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards being another… (and) Appalachian Ridge Artisan Hard Cider, which is a beautiful venue as well.
When I listened to your website sampler and watched your video, I heard a strong bluegrass presence. I did hear influences of swing and gypsy jazz. What should people expect to hear if they have not heard you before?
We do a pretty good amount of bluegrass but do like to mix in some Gypsy jazz or swing tunes here and there to break things up and keep it interesting. We have a few originals that we do as well.
We interact and engage with the audiences pretty heavily and tell jokes and take stabs at each other a lot on stage. We have a lot of fun playing, and I think it comes through when we perform. People see us having such a good time with each other, and I think that makes it fun for them as well.
It’s not us performing for them: We try to include them and make it an experience as much as possible.
You do a lot of instrumentals, which I really liked. What does that say about the quality of the musicianship?
The guys in the band are all great musicians and we get to kinda cut loose on the instrumentals and just feel it out. We swing a few of the instrumentals and try to give them a good feel. We often notice people patting their feet and moving to the music on those instrumentals.
We do some instrumentals that are quite different from a lot of bluegrass bands. We don’t do Foggy Mt. Breakdown and stuff they might expect but we do swing, some David Grisman stuff, which is cool!
How did you get your name? What is the reference to JackTown?
We get asked this all the time. I’m the only one who lives in the Marion area. The rest of the guys live in Morganton and surrounding areas. In Marion, there is a little area that is unofficially known as JackTown. I have no idea why, but one day Shannon Leasure (guitarist) and I were throwing around names, and he came up with that name and we thought it was kinda funny so we went with it.
Nice thing is, it doesn’t pigeon-hole us to just bluegrass, like the whatever mountain boys or something would. We can cover whatever kinda music we want with that name.
I see the band can be a duo to five-piece. Are there core members?
We used to play as a duet with mandolin and guitar and as a trio adding bass back when we started and still may book a few dates a year like that, but for the last couple years we have been a solid four-piece. Now and then, we add a fiddle and make it five pieces.
The main members are Mike Ramsey on bass. He’s a great songwriter, and used to deejay Going Across the Mountain on 88.7, as well as helped run the Red White and Bluegrass Festival in Morganton. Shannon Leasure on guitar is an amazing banjo playe and really can swing on the guitar. He has his own unique style.
Brett Setzer on banjo has won several awards, including Smokey Mountain Banjo Championship. He has his own sound and style as well. Myself, Gabriel Wiseman, on mandolin. I guess I have my own style and approach, and I do a lot of the lead singing for the band.
When we have fiddle, my dad, David Wiseman, covers that. Great mandolin, guitar, and fiddle player, who has done it all with everybody at some point in his career.
How have you been received by Hendersonville and Henderson County? What do you think of the live music community here?
We have been welcomed with open arms! The people and venues have been great! We usually have good turnouts for any dates we have in the Hendersonville area and haven’t played anywhere that hasn’t asked us to come back. We love playing in Hendersonville.
How did the band start? Where is it going artistically and professionally?
We started as a duet with myself on mandolin and Shannon Leasure on guitar, probably about 2017 or so and played a while like. Somewhere along the way, we started adding an upright bass and played as a trio. Then eventually picked up Brett Setzer on the banjo and have been working that configuration for around a couple of years now.
We’ve been blessed to be a band that gets a lot of bookings and stays about as busy as we would like. We recently finished recording our first album, which is currently being mixed and should be coming out before long. It will be available on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube Music, Google Play and all that, as well as on CD. We are excited about that.
The new album has one original instrumental and two original vocal tunes, written by Mike Ramsey and one written by me.
What is the single-most important thing to know about the band, especially, if deciding to attend your gig at Saint Paul Mountain Vineyard Saturday?
We are a fun bunch of nuts, and they will have a good time at our show, even if you’re not a bluegrass fan. We really do have a good time and interact with the crowd a lot. Our music is different enough that they will likely hear something that they like.
What do you want to say to the live music listeners of Hendo?
There are so many great venues and great acts in Hendersonville! It’s insane. People here are really lucky to be able to go somewhere in their community and hear such great and various acts.
Not every place is like that. A lot of people have to drive hours just to find any kind of live music, and Hendersonville has all genres, great acts and amazing venues all in their backyard on any given weekend!
We truly appreciate all the folks and venues in Hendersonville that support us and come out to our shows! We see a lot of people who come to every single one of our shows in the area, and we truly do love to see everyone!
Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards
588 Chestnut Gap Rd., Hendersonville
Friday, May 13, 6:15 p.m., 3 Shades of Gray, three men of a certain age rocking
Saturday, May 15, 3-6 p.m., The JackTown Ramblers, bluegrass, swing, gypsy jazz, quartet
305 Lounge & Eatery
305 N. Main St., Hendersonville
Every Tuesday and Thursday, 1-3 p.m., Bob Sherrill, singer, songwriter, guitarist
Appalachian Ridge Artisan Hard Cider
749 Chestnut Gap Rd., Hendersonville
Friday, May 14, 6-9 p.m., 3 Shades of Gray, three men of a certain age rocking
Saturday, May 15, 3-6 p.m., Brian Ashley Jones, originals, classic country, blues
Bold Rock Hard Cider
72 School House Rd., Mills River
Friday, May 14, 6 p.m., Todd Cecil & Dirt Yard Choir, swamp roots rock
Saturday, May 15, 6 p.m., Super ‘60s, party band, danceable, ‘60s music and more
2695 Sugarloaf Rd., Hendersonville
Saturday, May 15, 2-5 p.m., Gary Lockaby, soloist, guitarist, classical, jazz, pop
Sunday, May 16, 2-5 p.m., Hope Griffin, singer, soulful ballads to high-energy blues
Dry Falls Brewing Co.
425 Kanuga Rd., Hendersonville
Friday, May 14, 7-10 p.m., Dr. Don & The Medicine Men, Americana rock, blues, rockabilly, jazz, Texas country
Saturday, May 15, 7-10 p.m., 3 Cool Cats, vintage rock trio
Guidon Brewing Co.
415 8th Ave. E., Hendersonville
Friday, May 14, 6 p.m., The Hillbillies & Guitars Roadshow (Pistol Hill & Chance Stanley), country
Hendersonville Farmers Market
650 Maple St., Hendersonville
Saturday, May 15, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Apple Country String Band, acoustic Americana
Mills River Brewing Co.
336 Banner Farm Rd., Mills River
Friday, May 14, 7-10 p.m., Pink Beds, indie, pop, rock
Saturday, May 15, 7 p.m., The MUG Band, rockin’ blues
Sunday, May 16, 2-5 p.m., Scrawny Johnny, acoustic country duo
Oklawaha Brewing Company
147 1st Ave. E. Hendersonville
Friday, May 14, 8-11 p.m., Blue Ridge Pistols, classic rock, hard rock, southern rock
Saturday, May 15, Hope Griffin (blues singer) noon-3; Izzy Hughes (eclectic Hendo singer) 3-6 p.m., part of Walk to End Lupus fundraiser
Saturday, May 15, 8-11 p.m., Ross Osten Band, rock, blues
Sunday, May 16, 3-6 p.m., Human Ladder and Friends, WNC greats Bill Loftus, Troy Crossley, Steve Prickelmyer, Ryan Price, best of eclectic
Southern Appalachian Brewery
822 Locust St., Ste. 100, Hendersonville
Friday, May 14, 6-8 p.m. TBA
Saturday, May 15, 6-8 p.m., The Last Full Measure, folk, Americana
Sunday, May 16, 4-6 p.m., The Peggy Ratusz Trio, blues
South Rock Sports Grill
830 Greenville Hwy., Hendersonville
Every Friday, 8 p.m., karaoke
Saturday, May 15, 8 p.m.-midnight, Twisted Trail, rock band
The 2nd Act Coffee, Wine and Craft Beer Bar
101 E. Allen St., Hendersonville
Friday, may 14, 6-9 p.m., Izi Hughes, young Hendo singer, eclectic
The Dugout Sports Bar & Taphouse
430 N. Main St., Hendersonville
Friday, May 14, 9 p.m.-midnight, ALR Trio, blue, rock
Saturday, May 15, 8 p.m.-midnight, Marsha Morgan Band, Myrtle Beach based band, beach music, country, rock, pop, southern and classic rock
The Greenhouse Moto Cafe
4021 Haywood Rd. (Highway 191) Mills River
Friday, May 14, 7 p.m., The Sliding Rockers, classic jam rock, Americana, covers, originals
Saturday, May 15, 7 p.m., Marvin King Revue, blues trio
Sunday, May 16, 3-6 p.m., Tools on Stools, Howie Johnson and company, cool groove duo
Triskelion Brewing Company
340 7th Ave. E., Hendersonville
Friday, May 14, 7-9:30 p.m., Mojomatic, funk-a-fied rocking blues
Saturday, May 15, 2:30-5:30 p.m., Western Carolina Writers, in-the-round singers and songwriters, originals, Taylor Maxson, Stephen Evans and Joshua Singleton
Sunday, May 16, 3 p.m., Johnnie Blackwell, native son rocks
Want to be included in “Live Music?” Send your information via email to Steve Wong at Just4Wong@Gmail.com by Monday at 8 a.m. for the coming Thursday-Sunday. Don’t forget to send details on your performing artist along with a good high-resolution photo.