Meet: Southern Blues Rockers Ramblin Preachers

Ramblin’ Preachers was founded by Ross Connor & James Ives with a mutual passion for Blues Rock, Southern Rock and Americana. The bands previous singles ‘Mind Your Own Business’, ‘Better Than Me’, ‘Jester’ and the new single ‘Separate Ways’, due the 29th of September, all display the very ‘rootsy’ foundations of what ‘Ramblin’ Preachers’ are all about.

Give us a potted history of the band

We started the band in early 2019, the band came about from James Ives (Lead Guitar) and I (Ross Connor – Vocals and Rhythm Guitar) basically buying guitar amps. I’d sold James my amp and then about a year later we were looking at a bargain ‘Fender Bassman’ which we both wanted, so I made a deal with James that if I went to pick it up and didn’t like it then I would trade that amp for my old amp back as I’d sold a lot of my stuff at the time and needed an amp either way.

So, James came over to my house and in the end, we decided to trade back. We jammed for a couple of hours and then James mentioned that he was playing a covers band show at a pub about 3 minutes from my house, so I said I’d go along. Watching him rip into Angus Young solos, Sultans of Swing and While My Guitar Gently Weeps really did put a smile on my face and his vibrato was nasty!

I Went outside for a cigarette and our old Scottish friend John McLinton was on a drunken rant about how James needed to play better places and needed to get out of covers band life and I said to him he needed to come play with me. I had songs and had contacts and knew a bassist (Craig Howe) and a drummer and jokingly said to James we should arrange a jam and the rest is history.

Our first show we played together was an acoustic set supporting Danielle Nicole at The Stables in Milton Keynes. Since then, we have supported the likes of Jared James Nichols, Aynsley Lister and more. We’ve recorded 4 singles and been on some great festivals including winning the Introducing Stage at Skegness Rock and Blues Festival in 2022 which led to us being able to play the Main Stage this year in front of 3500 people which was amazing as well as aiding us in a lot more festival slots etc. We are also due to tour in the Czech Republic in March 2025 which we are super excited for too. We have worked towards our debut album and really put in the road work to get to where we are, and we can’t wait to see what happens next.

Who inspired you to start making music

Ross :- My Dad really, he always brought me up listening to the likes of Fleetwood Mac, AC/DC, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, The Eagles etc. As long as he’s proud of what I’m doing musically that’s what keeps me hungry to keep improving and working at it.

James :- My musical love came from my childhood best friend, Sam. He had been playing piano for a while and always had a piano in his house. I forever was pestering to play on it and he finally relented and taught me a few notes. Soon after I thought it would be cool to play guitar and accompany him. I had an Argos ¾ sized classical guitar at home and went on to play that until my family couldn’t take it anymore. My Grandad was a huge inspiration to me and took a real interest. He gave me my first electric guitar and I owe a lot of what I do these days to him. He is no longer here but I will forever be playing to make him proud.

My ultimate guitar hero is Paul Kossoff, I have forever been infatuated with his tone and vibrato, so a lot of my sound and style comes off relentlessly listening to Free. 

3.And the one (or maybe two) records that inspired you artistically (and why)

Ross :- Clapton Unplugged, that was the turning point album of what lead me down the rabbit hole as a guitar player and opened the doors to everything I listen to and enjoy now 

James :- I remembered watching Dire Straits play ‘Money For Nothing’ live at Knebworth with Eric Clapton and that very much stuck with me. Once I did some more research on Eric Clapton, I was instantly down the rabbit hole. ‘Cream Of Eric Clapton’ was the first ever record I purchased myself on vinyl and it opened my eyes to guitar-based music at its finest.

4.If you’re trying to explain who you sound like to someone that’s never heard you, what do you say?

We get told a lot we have a Black Stone Cherry, Blackberry Smoke, Robert Jon & The Wreck sorta vibe going on. So we guess we fit in that Southern Rock genre.

 5. Tell us about your new track/single / release (label, who you did it with, where, the inspiration/story behind it, what gear you used, anything like that)

Separate Ways came about lyrically after an argument within my (Ross) family, it’s about trying to get out of a toxic environment and get on with your own life and stop letting people bring you down or hold you back or make you think their way of thinking is all that matters. I think everyone at some point has experienced this, so I feel it’s relatable. 

It’s very much a rock driven banger so James rips into his 58 Custom Shop Gibson Les Paul and his original 66 Fender Bandmaster amplifier throughout. I bolstered the rhythm playing with a Gretsch Duo Jet and my JTM45. I think the combination of Gibson and Gretsch sounds awesome and the Gretsch sound was a huge discovery for me during the recording of the album. Wayne Proctor mixed and mastered it, and he really has got it pumping and sounding as (what we think at least) we do live. 

Where can we get hold of it? 

Separate Ways is released as a single on 29th September and will be available on all the usual digital listening locations. 

It is the opening track on our debut album ‘Sins & Virtues’ which is due for release in March 2024 and will be available as physical copies. 

Tell us how you write? (As a band, do different people have different roles, words/music first, from jamming etc)

We write a couple of ways but usually I (Ross) come up with an idea of say a verse with a riff or rhythm guitar, lyrics, and melodies and then I’ll usually know if it sounds cool and I’ll phone James to show him. My musical theory is pretty useless so what normally happens is I phone James to ask him what chords work together in the key of a song and then work something out from there. I don’t have the patience for sitting and recording demos with programmed drums etc, so I’ll usually play with a drum beat or pattern running through my head imaginatively and then describe what I hear to Rich (Drummer) and Craig (Bassist) and then they work out what they are going to do. I find it hard if other people try to write a whole song as I write very much from a place of mind at the time and if I can’t vibe what they send me I feel really like I’m letting people down, however what often happens is I’ll take elements of what has been sent and write it in a different way. That’s what happened with Separate Ways.

Tell us about your live show? What would be your dream gig? 

We think the main reason any musician starts is to play live. So, we never take live shows for granted and we always work on being tight and consistent and we think this comes across. 

As for dream gig, we’d love to just do a tour supporting someone like Rival Sons or Chris Stapleton. The Albert Hall is on most people’s bucket list and we’d love to play in America one day.

What can we expect from you in the near future? (In terms of releases / album / dates)

We are currently working on releasing 4 singles including ‘Separate Ways’ leading up to the album release in March and we have some great shows and festivals coming up still. We will be planning a tour for the album and then we plan on getting back into the studio with the collective minds of Wayne Proctor and Oli Brown and working towards the next album.

Tell us your favourite record(s) (apart from your own) that’s rocking your headphones/tour bus / stereo?

Ross :- Jason Isbell – Southeastern 

James :- John Mayer – Continuum

Craig :- A Rock’s Greatest Hits from the 80’s compilation disc

Rich :- Genesis – …And Then There Were Three…

Check out the bands track Jester, below:

Find out more about the band here

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