- Brooklyn Ramble
Rick Brantley & The BVR House Band
- The Woman Who Made Me
- Wrong Mr. Right
- You’re Still The One
- Folsom Prison Blues
Rick Brantley & The BVR House Band
- Ring of Fire
Brittain Ashford with Rick Brantley & The BVR House Band
- Bartender Blues
- Begs & Achin’
- I Saw The Light
Brittain Ashford with Rick Brantley & The BVR House Band
- Wichita Lineman
Rick Brantley & The BVR House Band
- Angel from Montgomery
- I Got It Bad
- The Weight
The Full Ramble
The BVR theme song, “Brooklyn Ramble,” was written by Rick Brantley and produced by Brantley, Bryan Dawley, and Robert Thompson. The single is available for streaming or purchase wherever you listen to music.
Fearlessly forging ahead down country roads, singer-songwriter Julie Williams is turning heads in Nashville’s country music scene with the soft but powerful songs that capture the soul of growing up as a mixed-race child in the South.
Music has always been a part of Julie’s life – honing her singing talent in church and beach bars and belting national anthems before packed stadiums. She grew up listening to everyone and everything, from The Chicks and James Taylor, to Gladys Knight and Michael Jackson. Even though she was drawn to the storytelling of country music, she never quite found the sound that spoke to everything she was: Black, white, Southern, a woman, hopeful, truthful. So naturally, it was up to Julie to make this sound. “My music is mixed like me,” is how she describes it, “I want to tell the stories that need to be told.”
Julie started sharing those stories, and the people listened. A student at Duke University, Julie was signed to Small Town Records, whose alumni include Mike Posner and Delta Rae, and performed as a vocalist for the Duke Jazz Ensemble. In April 2019, she released her debut EP, Lovecycle, earning a feature in People of Duke Arts in 2019. After graduating with a public policy degree that same year, she moved to Nashville where she became a regular host of The Song Suffragettes, Nashville’s premier collective of female singer-songwriters, and performed her 2021 single, “Southern Curls” at the State of Tennessee’s 100th anniversary celebration of the 19th amendment. She was named in Rissi Palmer’s “Color Me Country Class of 2021” and featured on She Wolf Radio’s “Ones 2 Watch” list. In April 2021, Julie was featured in a PBS NewsHour special on Black women in country music.
“People want to hear black voices, black stories,” Julie always says. “I was nervous about how my songs would be received by Nashville – but people want honesty. They want honest songs about real life, and for the artists they follow to take a stand.” Her “Southern Curls” single embodies this – making waves with her soulful lyrics about the struggles of growing up mixed in the South, aiming for the heart and striking true. Her fans responded by raising over $5,000 in only one week to fund the song´s music video that was brought to life by an all black creative team. “Southern Curls” was covered by Billboard, CMT, World of Country, and numerous music publications.
Julie has begun touring the country with the Black Opry Revue, a showcase featuring Black artists in country, blues, folk, and Americana music, and performed at their CMT-sponsored anniversary gala in April 2022 that was covered by NBC News. Julie took the stage with the group at CMA Fest in Nashville in June 2022 and then set out on her first solo tour. The tour took Julie’s songs across the country and globe – with performances in London, Nashville, Charlotte, Washington, D.C, Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston.
“I’m writing my songs for the 10-year-old girl who cries in the shower as she tries to detangle her hair and is afraid to look in the mirror because she hates what she sees; for the 20-year-old who is just now learning to love herself; for the new mom that wants her daughters and sons to love themselves as themselves and to hear music that celebrates them. That’s who my songs are for.“
Christian Apuzzo is a Brooklyn-based vocalist, guitarist, and music educator. Long Island-raised, this musician started his journey as a certified public school music teacher but has since then found the wide-open pastures of the freelance music world in NYC. Playing mostly folk, bluegrass, and country music, Christian plays with numerous groups all over the 5 boroughs including Bluegrass group Cole Quest and the City Pickers. He also teaches music lessons and classes for all ages at Jalopy Theatre in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Rebecca, the granddaughter of jazz musicians, got her start at a young age when her father started sneaking her into bars at the age of 13 to sit in with her uncle’s Blues band. Her first album with Rebecca Haviland and Whiskey Heart, released in 2012, received awards in the International Songwriting Competition and Unsigned Only Competition. After a year playing keyboards and guitar for multi-platinum selling pop artist Rachel Platten, which included television appearances on Ellen and Good Morning America, plus performances across North America, Europe, Australia and Japan, Rebecca decided to head back in the studio with a collection of songs inspired by her travels and her love for American roots music.
As the lead vocalist for Rebecca Haviland and Whiskey Heart, a Roots Rock Americana band based in New York, Rebecca performs with bassist Chris Anderson (Martin Sexton), drummer Kenny Shaw (Dispatch), and B3 player Todd Caldwell (Crosby Stills and Nash). Her big vocals and intimate songwriting, accompanied by her soulful band, break new barriers with their unique form of Americana. Their album Bright City Lights, recorded at Atomic Sound in Brooklyn and released in 2018, was called “hauntingly beautiful” by Paste Magazine, and “the rare seven song disc that deserves to be stretched to a full length” by Chronogram.
After completing a tour opening for Martin Sexton in 2018, Rebecca and her band released two live albums, Sun Studio Sessions Volume 1 and Volume 2, tracked across two late night recording sessions at the famous Sun Studio in Memphis, TN, where artists like Elvis and Johnny Cash made their first recordings. Their episode of Sun Studio Sessions Live, taped for PBS and other public television stations, is airing now nationwide. Volume 1 features a collection of originals and covers including the John Prine song “Angel From Montgomery,” and Ann Peebles’ “Slipped Tripped Fell In Love.” Volume 2 features original songs taped for the band’s episode of Sun Studio Sessions Live.
Rebecca also released singles “Hideaway” and “Stone Cold Lonesome” in 2019. “These songs are meant to be a collection of stories and memories, but I also wanted all the songs to create a nostalgic feel and simultaneously be awesome late night driving songs, the kind of songs you put on after leaving a hang on a cool summer night, and you’re driving with the windows down on the highway thinking about what could have been, what was said, and what might be.”
Rebecca headed back into the studio in October of 2020 to track a holiday EP called A Holiday To Remember, with her band and a horn section including Matt Owens on trumpet, Steven Salcedo on saxophone, and Jimmy O’Connell on trombone. Released in December of 2020, the EP featured two original Christmas songs and their cover of “Jingle Bells.”
Host and House Band
Ali is the southern, dyslexic, pageant kid, who grew up to be a dyslexic, lesbian comedian, actor, and writer. After graduating college with a degree in acting she realized folks don’t like to hear Shakespeare performed in a country accent; so she left North Carolina to hone her comedic chops in Chicago. She spent eight years in the Windy City finding her voice as a stand-up. Ali has been performing comedy for over a decade and is currently based in Brooklyn, NY. Ali is an alumni of the prestigious Actors Theater of Louisville’s Acting Apprentice Program, a Second City Conservatory graduate, and is the recipient of the famed Carolines on Broadway ‘Breakout Artist’ spotlight, as well as a top finalist in NBC’s competitive StandUP competition.
Ali co-hosts the Y’all Gay? podcast with her best friend and fellow southern queer comedian Ever Mainard. Vulture named Y’all Gay? one of the top five comedy podcasts of 2022 saying the podcast is “hilarious” and “the type of show that can’t help but embody a certain southern charm.” Ali’s stand-up has been featured on the show Funny How on VICE, as well as Sirius XM. To find out what Ali is up to follow her @acountryclayton on all platforms.
Rick Brantley made the move to Nashville, TN, where he established himself as one of the most in-demand young writers on Music Row, with cuts ranging from Meat Loaf to David Nail. An artist and dynamic performer as well as a songwriter, Brantley has toured nonstop all over the world, opening for everyone from John Hiatt to Kiefer Sutherland to Zac Brown and Brandy Clark, as well as headlining his own solo shows.
Brantley continues to add to his impressive portfolio, producing acclaimed records with artists like Rob Baird and Justin Halpin, and directing music videos in his down time.
Born and raised in New York, Brian has had a healthy obsession with music since as early back as he can remember. By the time he picked up a bass guitar at the age of ten, he was certain of a career as a musician.
Grasping every performance opportunity and seeking the tutelage of the best educators available, he quickly found himself immersed in the worlds of Jazz, Rock, and everything in between. At the age of 18, the great Avishai Cohen would take him under his wing, leading to performances in New York City’s most noted jazz clubs, including The Blue Note, Birdland, Small’s, and Sweet Basil. At the same time, Brian would enroll in William Paterson University’s famed jazz program, where he would learn to actively double between upright and electric basses.
Out of college, Brian would go on to tour extensively with experimental funk stalwarts ulu, funk/roots rock outfit the Josh Dion Band, and guitar legend Chuck Loeb, leading to unforgettable performances in the US, Spain, The Netherlands, Poland, and Japan.
As Brian settled deeper into the NYC scene, he embraced freelance life, backing up a variety of artists including Rachel Platten, A Great Big World, Liz Longley, Barnaby Bright, Caleb Hawley, Robbie Gil, Joe Sumner, Bill Evans, and Jim Campilongo. He continues to back up a host of performers, often joined by long-time collaborators and NYC throwback-rock mainstays Brooklyn Sugar Co.
Brian also feels equally at home in orchestral and theatrical settings. He has been the long-time bass chair holder for the Big Apple Circus, where he learned to welcome the musically unexpected. He also had the pleasure of joining many performances, including a feature on The Today Show, with the Broadway production of The Cher Show. Brian has recently joined a variety of Schirmer Theatrical-Greenberg Artist symphonic productions, playing some of the world’s finest popular music alongside the country’s most acclaimed conductors and orchestras.
Oscar started producing and engineering at Russell Street Recording in 2013, and soon after began collaborating with Zach Jones. Since then, the two have played in each other’s bands (Albis and Zach Jones & The Tricky Bits) and have co-produced records for artists such as Jenny Owen Youngs, Elizabeth Wyld, Hannah Winkler, Talay, Jesse Dylan & The Scaredy Cats, and A Great Big World.
On his own, Oscar’s production credits include Jukebox The Ghost, Jon The Guilt, and Rikki Will. He’s also written and produced hundreds of songs for the YouTube Audio Library, the Facebook Sound Collection, Marmoset Music, Premium Beat, and is a co-founder of the music/media collective, Track Tribe.
Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Cameron Mitchell was raised in North Carolina and came of musical age in the ’90s. He brought his past and present influences to bear in his first full album, Maspeth. This 11-song Country-Rock record is a winding auditory journey of waltzing piano ballads, overdriven-amp rockers, and heartfelt stories, echoed by the twang of pedal steel and vocals of long-time collaborator, Carrie Welling.
Cameron started recording Maspeth in a self-storage unit turned DIY music studio somewhere above a hockey rink in Queens. “The first session was in January 2016 and it was freezing. The wind was howling and the mics could easily pick up the hiss of the room,” he notes. Despite the conditions, the results were the foundation of a 15-month project involving nearly a dozen local artists: musicians, audio pros, and even a multimedia artist commissioned to create the album artwork.
Cameron debuted Maspeth at the Rockwood Music Hall in July 2017. The album is now available for streaming and purchase.
John Chong is a touring drummer for Nashville-based artist, Ruston Kelly. Originally from Los Angeles, John formed and developed many bands, and has been signed to several record labels.
Brittain Ashford is a Brooklyn-based performer and songwriter. While Ashford has spent much of her career recording and touring in support of her original music, her unlikely appearance in the Broadway musical Natasha Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812 took her in a slightly different direction. Lin-Manuel Miranda once suggested that she could sing while he wept into a bucket, and The New York Times said she should have been nominated for a Tony.
Since her time on Broadway, Ashford has returned to writing and performing her own music. She’s released two albums under the moniker Prairie Empire, a solo album of show tunes “run through a David Lynch filter” called Drama Club, numerous singles, and is preparing to release a new album in early 2023 under her own name, Trotter. Her music has been featured on MTV’s Catfished and HBO’s Search Party.
About The Ramble
The Brooklyn Variety Ramble (BVR) was created to entertain, enlighten, and unite audiences through the celebration of Country, Bluegrass, Americana, and American Roots Music. The series explores the musical backroads of America, from Bakersfield to Brooklyn and everywhere in between in search of joy and meaning through music, while providing a platform for artists and songwriters to share their craft and pay tribute to the classics of country.
In discussing the vision for the new series, Creative Producer Robert Thompson shared that, “We wanted to return to the roots of Country Music and how it was originally presented…not as concerts, but as community gatherings, like those old-time rambles and hootenannies that you’d find on a Saturday night in small town America. The Brooklyn Variety Ramble’s goal is to rekindle that spirit of community. We want our fellow Ramblers to put aside their cares for an evening, enjoy some down-home fun, comedy, and great music from the heartland…and maybe meet a new neighbor or two. Lastly, everyone is welcome at the Brooklyn Variety Ramble. We’re all here to foster a bit of musical citizenship. Our Motto is, ‘No matter our differences, we all have Dolly Parton in common.’”
Reflecting on the home city for the series, Music Director Rick Brantley described that, “As anyone who has ever visited or lived here will tell you, there is no place on earth as REAL as New York City. The Country Music being made here might even be closer to the bone than anywhere else. That’s what excited me about bringing this show to life right here in the city: shining a light on the incredible and diverse artists and storytellers telling their stories and speaking their truth.”
Creative Consultant & Music Director
Strategic Projects Coordinator
Schirmer Theatrical is a concert production company specializing in the creation of symphonic experiences, film with live orchestra concerts, and theatrical productions.