Interview with Dolphus Ramseur of Ramseur Records


Dolphus Ramseur is the record exec. you oughtta know.  His steady, tried & true commitment to musical acts in the Americana/ Roots genre is gaining much deserved attention across the globe.  With the colossal success of such acts as The Avett Brothers, Dolphus Ramseur is a man on a steady mission.   I’m not sure WHEN or IF the following Ramseur words have ever been spoken by ANY other Record Exec in the past 25 years, “We are looking to help build 30 year careers, not just a couple of years success”  WOW!!!  Read on & find out why a balloon ride might actually carry you further than the rocket kind….

Quick 5 Stats with Owner of Ramseur Records: Dolphus Ramseur

1. Tennis with Novak Djokovic or Back up singing with Sha Na Na?

 Djokovic on center court at Roland Garros though I did see Sam and Dave and Sha Na Na in 1979 at the Charlotte Coliseum and it was rockin’! 

2. Break it down under the disco ball or painted flower on the wall?

 I am going with the disco ball. Especially at Terminal 5 in New York City during the last instrumental section of Laundry Room by the Avett Brothers. 

3. Sunshine on your shoulder or rainy afternoons?

Rainy afternoon listening to John Martyn’s “Bless The Weather.”

4. North Carolinans do __________ better. Entertainment

5. Describe The Avett Brothers in one word: _______ Passion


Your career in music began as a Tennis Management major in Michigan. How does one go from Tennis Pro to Successful Record Label Exec? In regards to music I went to the school of hard knocks. I read and studied everything I could get my hands on about the music business. At heart though I am just a music fan. 


In a world where big record labels don’t seem to get it & flash in the pan acts come & go faster than fried chicken at an after church social…how have you managed to stay the course & achieve the kind of mega success that surrounds The Avett Brothers?
To be honest I really don’t see myself in the music business. I am just in the business of each band I work with. For the most part we operate on a different wave length than the big machine. Never underestimate the power of the small.
  •  We operate on the philosophy of winning over one fan at a time. This is a balloon ride and not a rocket ship. We are looking to help build 30 year careers….not just a couple of years success. Art cannot be rushed or sacrificed. You have to treat it with respect and honor it or you will find yourself making big mistakes that can hurt your career. I hope that we are also pretty good at treating fans the way we would want to be treated.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in this business?

I think the biggest lesson has been carried over from the tennis career. If you see a young kid with loads of potential you work with him on ways to improve and fine tune him or herself to make that potential shine. When I work with bands I do the same. I never sign them thinking that right then and there they are at their zenith. You have to cultivate it, work hard, learn from mistakes, etc…. 

Tell us a bit about the current Ramseur Records roster & where can we continue to surround ourselves with Ramseur Record Goodness in the upcoming months??

In 2012 Langhorne Slim will be putting out a new release in early June. It is very special and I think the best work of his career. I really believe in it. Samantha Crain goes back into the studio with John Vanderslice. They are making her next full length release. The Avett Brothers have a new one that is being produced by Rick Rubin that we are hoping to have out in late Summer or early Fall. The Carolina Chocolate Drops just released a new one that was produced by Buddy Miller. It is doing very well. So we are very busy which is a good thing. As always I look at Ramseur Records as just my little mix tape that I make for the world. Hopefully some like it. 



Thanks Dolphus!!  Carry on the Awesomeness
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A video I took from the Bombadil show the other night at North Star Bar - replete with rock moves and Guitar Hero power ups!

#Bombadil #Metrics of Affections #MMF #Ramseur Records #bombadil band #Melissa Madison Fuller

Bombadil is releasing a new album on July 23rd. That’s next week! Its called Metrics of Affection, the word on the street is its *extra good and after I saw Bombadil live in February, I was pleased to report they have grown and changed and morphed even more so into themselves. So I am *extra excited about hearing their new work. Bombadil.


Commissioning the art for the new Ramseur site was an integral and crucial part of the project for both Dolphus and us here at Plan-B Studio. The new site is like a body, and stories from Dolphus the back bone, so finding and commissioning the right artist was a big deal. We looked through many books but I kept coming back to one, Dragon76's. I knew of Dragon76, his work and his passion for bringing to life his work through beautifully constructed, layered canvas paintings. Having him based in Japan, Ramseur in North Carolina and me in London and Norway was never an issue - the world is a small village and communications makes it even smaller.
- Steve Price, creative director (Plan-B Studio)

-  PlanB Studio 

PALEFACE Announces Tour Dates

Paleface is back on the road starting in Feb. Check out tour dates including several shows with Kimya Dawson:

Feb 10: DeLand, FL @ Cafe DaVinci (w/ Dish)
Feb 12: Orlando, FL @ Orlando Folk Festival
Feb 16: DelRay, FL @ Dada’s (w/ Dish)
Feb 17: Lake Worth, FL @ Propaganda (w/ Dish)
March 9: Charlotte NC @ Chop Shop
March 16: Columbia SC @ Conundrum Music Hall
*March 19 @ Greenville NC @ Tipsy Teapot (supporting Kimya Dawson)
*Marh 20: Charlottesville, VA @ Tea Bazzar (supporting Kimya Dawson)
March 23: Asheville, NC @ Jack of The Woods, Asheville NC (w/ Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band)
March 30: Winston-Salem, NC @ The Garage (w/ Jason Ringenberg of Jason & the Scorchers opening)
April 01: Atlanta, GA @ The Five Spot (supporting Kimya Dawson)
April 02: Athens, GA @ 40 Watt (supporting Kimya Dawson)
April 03: Carrboro, NC @ The ArtCenter (supporting Kimya Dawson)                  April 04: Wilmington NC @ The Soapbox ( w/ Kimya Dawson)                           April 21: Chattanooga TN @ JJ’s Bohemia                                                          April 22: Knoxville TN @ Rhythm’n Blooms                                                    April 27: Johnson City TN @ Down Home (w/ This Mountain)                              May 03: Wilmington DE @ World Cafe Live                                                    May 12: Charlottesville VA @ Charlottesville Music Festival


photo by: Chris Hunt

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I think I’ve posted this before. But nothing’s changed.  Its still really good.

A small preview from a shoot I conducted with friend and musician Samantha Crain a few weeks ago. The press stills will debut around the time her new record drops in February 2012, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait to see the rest!

For Ramseur Records. Shot in Williamsburg, NYC.

Photo by Michael Cooper / COOPER PHOTOG.

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All That "All That the Rain Promises" Promises

Those mop-top boys from Carolina have released their much-anticipated 3rd full length album;  I always write a little something about their music, because I have always felt very attached to their songs ever since the first time I downloaded “Johnny” and “Jellybean Wine” from a music blog back when I was too young to go see them play a club in NYC.

They are a very personable group of musicians, who are always full of energy (even when they can’t use their hands…literally), and are always gracious to their fans.  How many musicians actually accept marriage proposals in song, on an official album, to a YouTube from listeners?  Yeah, I know right?  

All in all, as I am a fan of 99% of all they come up with, I have been enjoying the new album this past month, so here are my unofficial, early thoughts.  Check them out, and if they’re in yr neighborhood later this year - go see them.

On a whole, if Tarpits and Canyonlands was “Bombadil: the Musical,” this is definitely “Meet the Bombadil.”  Aside from the two most obvious tracks (obvious to me), ’Good Morning Everyone’ & ‘Flour Water Sugar’, it has a very Beatlesy feel.  While all the songs in their discography leap from sound to sound, their prior full-length releases have had an over-arcing cohesion or story that helps the varied characters and images come together.  ATTRP doesn’t feel like it’s so tightly knit.  I feel all the songs are right, put in the correct order, and the sound itself is a dissonant and warm one, however, it feels more like a B-Sides collection.  Maybe more appropriately, it feels like a besides collection.  Because, besides being a band, a lot has happened for Bryan, James, Daniel & Stuart since their last release - the nuptial-laden Tarpits.

The album is a scrap-book of emotions, harmonized and augmented with picking and horns.  I will never stop believing that the addition of James was the best thing to happen to the orchestration of Bombadil’s gang vocals and harmonies - if they did a barbershop quartet album, it would probably just as entertaining as one where the usual sweeping strings, jaunty electric guitar ramble and anxious drums usher the songs along.  The vocals on here are no exception, I think the production is also done in a way that allows you to really hear everyone’s voice throughout.  The consistency of their sound remains, as it continues to morph and mature; there is always that core Bombi-character to each track, but a tweak here and there that makes it a step above the last song.

For me, the gravity of some of the songs is much more tangible and clear on this album; some tracks in the past had an ability to conceal - at least partially, or temporarily - the narrator’s true feeling, or the story that is really being told.  There is no shortage of “songs about sad guys,” but it almost feels like an emotional state carried with a bit more dignity, or consciousness that haunts the characters - or the writers themselves.  It was hard to make it past the first track, ‘I Will Wait’ has such a harsh questioning, it’s a disservice not to listen again and hear the words, you have to stop and pay attention and draw in yr breath until he’s finished singing (thankfully, ‘A Question’ comes up later, in a great characterized style which lets you breathe out and stop feeling so worried).   

'Ponies' and 'Laundromat' are the new 'Julian of Norwich' (despite that being a cover song), in the hook, but then the realization very quickly that this is not really a story to dance to…still, it's hard not to.  'Avery' is a treat, and reminds me of Christmas - but that's probably not a common translation.  'Leather Belt' is my favorite track; the vocals are super, and ends a little lilting, a question unanswered.  'One Whole Year' is the most obvious sum of parts for this album - trying to pursue art wholly is not always easy, and it's not always the right route, which is also the more somber revelation of 'Unicycle.'  Which leaves 'Short Side of the Wall' - an obligatory, make you really feel helpless sort of track, cathartic and almost dragging.  

This loose narrative on what it’s like to be forced to spend time away from something that you have invested so much in is obvious to find on All That The Rain Promises, but, it’s also clear that Bombadil has not suffered from the distance, and have still progressed. There is still the old friend’s familiar voice, but with a little more insight and appreciation for the conversation.


New Bombadil record, All That the Rain Promises, is out on 11/8. Pre-order here!

More Info At:

Bombadil - Their Official Site

Bombadlr - Hey, they have a tumblr!

Sweet! - You can listen here!  But, you should just buy it.

Bombadil: "All That the Rain Promises"

CD review

Bombadil: “All That the Rain Promises”

Ramseur Records, 2011

by Sarah Hall


“Into each life a little rain must fall.”

This observation by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is often called up and quoted when misfortune happens. But how many of us remember the lines preceding it: “Be still sad heart and cease repining; Behind the clouds the sun is shining…”?

For the Durham, NC, band Bombadil, clouds were gathering two years ago. Just as they released their second full-length album, “Tarpits and Canyonlands,” Stuart Robinson left the band to pursue another degree. Then Daniel Michalak was sidelined by crippling tendonitis that made performing impossible. Bombadil was forced to cancel the promotional tour that should have followed the album’s release. The other two band members left the region: Bryan Rahija relocated to Washington, DC and James Phillips journeyed to Oregon.

Bombadil’s chances for continuing their musical mometum seemed as remote as their geographical separation. But now, much to the delight and relief of their fans, the band is back, and intact. Robinson has returned, and Michalak is cautiously healing.

The period of silence did not mean creative inactivity, but was instead a time of dormancy and regeneration. And also metamorphosis, since Bombadil has changed.

Their new album, “All That the Rain Promises,” set for release Nov. 8, still possesses the qualities that make the band stand out: poetic, intelligent lyrics couched in musical arrangements that manage to be unique, unpredictable and accessible all at the same time. There are still delightful bursts of vocal harmony and virtuosic instrumental passages.

But gone is the hyperactive trading around of a plethora of instruments, a trademark of the band’s earlier performances. This latest group of songs strips away distractions and seems content to be subtle. The songs speak for themselves with an economy of means, with only the instruments that are needed, nothing extraneous.

The album’s folk-like simplicity may be partly the result of the rustic surroundings in which it was recorded: in a barn. Not just any barn, though. The barn is on the grounds of Pendarvis Farm near Portland, Oregon, the site of the yearly “Pickathon” festival. It’s also the same barn where the Decemberists recorded “The King is Dead” not long ago. The spirit of brilliance that surrounded the creation of that epic work may have still been hovering in the rafters since it appears to have been smiling down on Bombadil.

The barn also yielded another gift to Bombadil: a name for the album. Lying in the barn was a book titled “All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms” by David Arora. The band members used the book to hunt for mushrooms, and then they appropriated its title. How could they not? The storm had passed, leaving not destruction, but life-giving water. And ideas were popping up like mushrooms.

Much of the album has a dreamlike, whimsical quality. There’s a penchant for pentatonic melody and open harmony, reinforcing its folk-like tone. The songs tend to stay rooted in only a few chords, but unpredictable harmonies and metrical shifts to make the songs adventurous in other ways.

Bombadil doesn’t just sing phrases; they play with them, and revel in them. An example of this is the treatment of the phrase “I’ve been waitin’ after weekend after weekend after” in the song “Laundromat,” a track that sparkles. The listener is left hanging mid- chord progression at the end of the anecdotal “One Whole Year” after phrases have been fragmented and bandied about. The song “Flour, Water, Sugar” comes across as a hybrid between nursery rhyme and an electronically manipulated madrigal.

Bombadil takes mundane objects — a belt, a wall, a laundromat — and turns them into metaphors for universal questions and situations. And among the lyrics are poetic gems:

“The snack machine is stuck between the TV and magazines that talk about our self-doubt and the things we can’t live without;

“Boxes from the ceiling to the floor, books she never read and clothes she never wore;

“It was too early to breathe;

“I think my eyelids are broken. I should see nothing when I close them, but I see your face…,”

One song on the album seems out of step with the storytelling and whimsy of the other numbers, and that is Robinson’s moving lament “I Will Wait.” It’s a gospel-tinged plea reminiscent of both Psalm 22 and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot,” delivered alternately with despair and resignation. As the first track, it seems a strange way to usher in this latest album. But it would have disrupted the mood had it appeared later. And it couldn’t be last, because this collection of songs needed to end optimistically. So it greets the listener with a sobering moment of reflection before moving toward the light that follows.

The last song, “Unicycle,” concludes the album by summarizing the tone and attitude of this opus: stripping songs, and life, down to the bare essentials, and focusing on balance. Michalak sings, “Going fast is overrated, and falling off is what I’ve traded.” He has had to slow down and adapt to survive musically. And that has led to this triumphant return, after the rain.

Longfellow also wrote, “Art is long and time is fleeting.” Sometimes artists have to resist the urge to hurry up and accomplish something. In Bombadil’s case, they have patiently produced what I predict will be an enduring achievement.

For more information, visit


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Bombadil - One More Ring

Put on by Little Lights in Nashville, TN

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Another captured video from the band’s performance @ The M Room in Philly 6/30/12