Hackberry Ramblers | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Hackberry Ramblers 

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Before there was country and western, before there was western swing or even bluegrass, there was music like the Hackberry Ramblers play: rooted in the primitive model harmonies the French Canadians brought to Louisiana over a century ago, eerily joyful and laced with backwoods imagery, as danceable as any music ever to emanate from North America. The Hackberrys' first incarnation was in 1933; original members Luderin Darbone and Edwin Duhon still anchor the group's sound, but this is no oldies act or museum piece. They've always been innovators: they were using amplification as early as 1934, and they've long incorporated non-Cajun elements like western swing and blues into their repertoire. Whether it's a searing, fiddle-drenched breakdown, a leisurely waltz, or a more contemporary romp, their music is unerringly fresh and emotionally charged (even staid Cashbox magazine called them "one of the coolest bands in the world"). But don't expect to just sit back and be entertained: if you can't move to this stuff, you're probably dead. Friday, 6:45 and 9:45 PM, and Saturday, 7 and 9:30 PM, FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn; 708-788-2118.

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