In Search of a Cheap Hotel
New Orleans based duo Ramsey & Vaan are Bart Ramsey (piano, guitar, accordion, hammond organ, glockenspiel and jaw harp) and Neti Vaan (fiddle and vocals). Plus many fine guest musicians. Bart Ramsey's powerful lyrics & melodies, and Neti Vaan's passionate fiddle playing combine on this 'enticing and typically wide-ranging gumbo that effortlessly takes in it's stride texmex, mardigras, hotclub, gypsy bluegrass, country and barroom swing...there's often a defiantly ironic sense of fun pervading both arrangements and delivery...The non-originals here, including Bill Monroe's 'Jerusalem Ridge' and Emmet Wallace's priceless 'Chicken Ain't Nothing But a Bird', are given very stylish treatment. Playing is several cuts above the average throughout, and there are also some intriguing, curious but effective instrumental touches. The whole album is very enjoyable...somehow I found myself better able to face the world by the end of the CD, which must count for something!' ~ David Kidman, FROOTS, UK 'In Search Of A Cheap Hotel' suggests a non-linear foray through wanderlust, addiction, affairs of the heart, and the human spiritual dilemma. Ramsey, with eleven original songs and two original instrumentals on the CD, comes across in top form, with eloquently skewed humor and incisive off-the-beaten-track observations. He writes about humans inheriting the earth ('When The Monkey Came'), and mortality ('Miles Away'), as well as a lost soul in the Louisiana Bible-belt torn between going the straight and narrow, and keeping his 3 girlfriends, all named Maria ('Three Marias'). Throughout, Neti Vaan's fiddle resounds, with her widely-informed technique never obscuring her gift for heartfelt expression. Her versatility comes through with colorful arrangements, such as the fiddle and accordion 'horn parts' on 'Spanish Wine and Black Coffee,' and her Gypsy-flavored improvisation on the instrumental 'Fin de Siècle.' The 12 songs and 4 instrumentals on the record range from smoky-barroom swing/blues ('Rough Around The Edges'), to gypsy-tinted bluegrass ('Jerusalem Ridge,' by Bill Monroe) and Tex/Mex-flavored folk ('Three Marias'). There is an original New Orleans Mardi Gras 'mambo'-styled song ('Don't Rain on My Mardi Gras'); and a twisted history of Europe as seen through the eyes of an American, punctuated by twanging jaw harp ('Judgment Town'). A twin-fiddle instrumental waltz ('Ruben's Dream') closes the record. Since they started working together in 1994, Bart Ramsey and Neti Vaan have divided their time between home in Louisiana, and touring in Europe for two or three months every summer. They have worked primarily in Britain, France, and more recently Italy.