St. Cinders plays Vagabond Dreams and We Think of Baby Gramps

In mid-April 2017 we were in Taos, at the Taos Inn, with friends, on our way to Chimayo, New Mexico, for our annual gathering. We like the Taos Inn but usually stay at the historic Mabel Dodge Luhan House but this night they were full.

After dinner at Orlando’s, great Mexican food at the north end of town, we returned to Taos Inn and found our way into the Adobe Bar, a comfortable space that often features live music and seems to be a favorite of the locals.

St. Cinder at the Taos Inn
St. Cinder at the Taos Inn

A five-piece band started to set up and looking at the bar schedule we saw that it was St. Cinder, from Ashland, Oregon, site of the Shakespeare Festival and our favorite spot between Portland and San Francisco. St. Cinder on Facebook

As we came to understand, St. Cinder plays what they call vagabond swing, what you might hear from buskers on a Portland street or in a London tube station. It’s energetic, upbeat, and easy to listen to, with roots in Swing, Ragtime, Blues, New Orleans Jazz, and Folk but unconfined by tradition, a brand new wine in old bottles.

Uncle Vern Might Wear Wool (sample) from Vagabond Dreams

Band Members

  • Alex Jones – Mandolin, Clarinet
  • Anthony Sutton – Guitar, Vocals
  • Cody Meyocks – 5 String Banjo, Vocals
  • Colton Ort – Vocals, Bones, Harmonica
  • Dagan Bartholomew – Percussion, Vocals
  • Jonathan Ratliff – Vocals, Tenor Banjo, 5 String Banjo, Clarinet, Violin

Though the band is composed of young men they dress like old – from a century ago. I like that a lot. Far from the hyper-commercial music mainstream.

Baby Gramps on the Boulder Mall, 1993
Baby Gramps on the Boulder Mall, 1993

Seeing St. Cinder, Yvonne and I were reminded of Baby Gramps, a unique Seattle musician, born an old man playing an acoustic antique resonator National Steel guitar, he started performing in 1964, and was a one-time companion of her childhood friend Julie. We came upon Baby Gramps busking on the Boulder Mall in 1993 and then saw him again on Orcas when he did a show at the Orcas Center in January 2008

We came back later to visit a bit
We came back later to visit a bit

There’s nobody else like Baby Gramps. He’s a master guitar player with a unique singing style, has an enormous repertoire, loves palindromes (that he shares at his concerts), and is famous for his renditions of Teddy Bears Picnic and Big Rock Candy Mountain.Baby Gramps website.

St. Cinder's Vagabond Dreams
St. Cinder’s Vagabond Dreams

Back to St. Cinder: During a break we bought a copy of their Vagabond Dreams album and I’ve been listening to it some days while doing my morning Ballard walks, alternating with The Seattle Files, The History of the Vikings, The Consciousness Podcast, and Intelligence Squared podcasts.

At the Taos Inn we sat through two sets – until we were too sleepy and had to get to bed, on to Chimayo the next day.

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