Red Stick Ramblers, Made in the Shade (Sugar Hill)

Made in the Shade is the Red Stick Ramblers’ first release on Sugar Hill Records, and the title track kicks it all off with hot rhythms and a bouncing beat as the Ramblers illustrate the finer points of life when experienced through a sweet sip of some Opelousas tonic. The quality musicianship and tight twanging style is a perfect way to introduce the band to a wider audience, and a great way to get old fans up and ready to dance. “Evenin’” features the band ripping out some tight gypsy jazz hits and rides while lead singer Linzay Young’s brassy voice rolls over the tune like a smooth Sidney Bechet solo. Young’s voice is prominent throughout the album, and his smooth texture and fluid timing blends in beautifully with guitar and fiddle lines while standing way out with a presence that gives the group a signature sound.

The other members are no slouches when it comes to singing duties, either. Young’s bandmates sing backing vocals and step up on a few tracks including fiddle player Kevin Wimmer’s gritty growl on a funky “Hot Tamale Baby” and the sweetly sympathetic musings of Chas Justus on “Unsentimental.” Bass player Eric Frey’s “Katrina,” penned in the midst of a steady stream of NOLA evacuee-houseguests, is a fierce bluegrass stomp propelled by Frey’s clawhammer banjo and a mean fiddle line that speaks on behalf of his friends: “I need water, I need bread / I need Katrina out of my bed.”

The album also includes some quality Francais time with the engrossing and slightly evil-sounding waltz “Les Oiseaux Vont Chanter,” the honk-tonkin’ two step “Laisse Les Cajuns Danser” and a slamming version of “Tes Parents Ne Veulent Plus Me Voir.” With so much style packed into 12 tracks, this album is worth the wait of long-time fans and potentially one of the hottest finds for new fans this fall.