They swing, they croon, they play down-home blues, they lay down hillbilly grooves that will wear down your shoes! The Muddy Basin Ramblers do all this in an unlikely place, Taipei, Taiwan, aka Ihla Formosa. But that’s part of the charm of this band.
The Ramblers are a group of seven US and UK expats, many of whom have lived on the island since the 1980s. They bonded through a shared experience of living in a foreign land, beer-fueled jams in the Formosan wilderness, and a love for all roots music. The “Muddy Basin” is the band’s affectionate nickname for their adopted home: Taipei is located in a geographical basin; it’s subtropical climate brings a lot of rain; the band has spent plenty of hours navigating the city’s mud-caked hiking trails in search of the perfect outdoor jam spot, instruments and bags full of Kirin and Asahi beer in tow.
A “skiffle band” at heart, the Ramblers cut their teeth playing standards by the Memphis Jug Band, the Dixieland Jug Blowers, and the washboard jazz bands of the 1920s and 30s. Then they started spiking the bowl with their own bathtub gin, tailoring pre-war sounds, along with some quirky influences, to create their own original music.