CRAVER, HICKS, WATSON
Bill Hicks and Jim Watson, along with Tommy Thompson founded the Red Clay Ramblers in 1972. Mike Craver joined in 1973. For the next decade these talented musicians toured extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Scandinavia and Africa; acted and played in two Off-Broadway shows (DIAMOND STUDS, & Sam Shepard's A LIE OF THE MIND)-- and released 8 albums on the Flying Fish and Sugar Hill labels. In the early 80s, Watson, Craver and Thompson released a highly acclaimed album of Carter Family songs titled MEETING IN THE AIR. Co-founder and banjo player Tommy Thompson passed away in early 2003, after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Bill and Jim and Mike had all left the band by 1986, but they still get together and play music, these days joined by Joe Newberry on banjo and vocals. In 2012, Craver, Hicks, Watson & Newberry released an album of their current repertoire entitled YOU'VE BEEN A FRIEND TO ME.
Bill, the founding fiddler of the Red Clay Ramblers, was before that a member of the Fuzzy Mountain String Band, and appears on their two Rounder LPs (reissued in 1995 as a Rounder CD). After leaving the Ramblers in 1981, he began playing music with his wife, Libby, and working as a stone mason in Chatham County, NC, where they live. Bill and Libby have a CD on the Copper Creek label, SOUTH OF NOWHERE. Bill and Libby also played for seven years in the Cajun-Zydeco band Unknown Tongues. Bill writes songs and produced a live solo CD of his songs, THE PERFECT GIG, in 2002.
Jim currently tours with Robin and Linda Williams in Their Fine Group. Jim has released four solo CDs: DON'T TELL ME I DON'T KNOW, WILLIE'S REDEMPTION, THIS WORLD WOULD ALL BE SUNSHINE, and CHRISTMAS AT THE CAVE, celebrating his 26th annual Christmas show in Chapel Hill. Jim also plays with the Green Level Entertainers. Before the Red Clay Ramblers, Jim recorded with the Hollow Rock String Band on their second LP.
(l-r: Joe Newberry, Mike Craver, Jim Watson, Bill Hicks. Photo by Daniel Coston. For higher resolution and more photos).
Mike has worked in musical theater since leaving the Ramblers. He co-wrote the Off Broadway musicals OIL CITY SYMPHONY, and RADIO GALS. He arranged the music for SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN and the sequel SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN HOMECOMING. He's released four solo records: FISHING FOR AMOUR, WAGONER'S LAD, SHINING DOWN, and BOSH AND MOONSHINE.
Joe Newberry is a Missouri native and North Carolina transplant who has played music most of his life. Known far and wide for his powerful banjo playing, he is a prizewinning guitarist, fiddler, and singer as well. Joe also plays in a duo with mandolinist Mike Compton, and along with Compton, performs with Bruce Molsky and Rafe Stefanini as the Jumpsteady Boys. Joe has won songwriting awards for two years running from the International Bluegrass Music Association, and is a frequent guest on A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION.
Craver, Hicks, Watson & Newberry have made numerous appearances at festivals and clubs throughout the East and Midwest, including the Omagh Festival of American Music in Northern Ireland. They do songs, fiddle and dance tunes from their early repertoire, as well as originals and selections from their individual CDs.
SOUND NEEDS: For performance the band requires four vocal mics on booms, three instrumental mics on booms, one line input for digital grand piano. In most cases the band needs to be supplied with a simple monitor system.
The band usually sets up, stage left to stage right, as follows:
#1 position: piano player -- 1 vocal mic on boom, 1 line input for digital piano, also we need a power supply/extension for keyboard too
#2 position: banjo player -- 1 vocal mic on boom, 1 instrumental mic boom
#3 position: mandolin player -- 1 vocal mic on boom, 1 instrumental mic on boom
# 4position: fiddle/guitar player -- 1 vocal mic on boom, 1 mic on boom for fiddle
for inquiries: mcraver at ptmc dot net