The Blue Water Ramblers, est. 2002, write their own songs and take turns harmonizing with each other to create a colorful tapestry of sounds. “Banjo-Jim” Foerch on his acoustic and electric banjos and R.H. “Bear” Berends on his big Martin guitar are the core of the Rambler vocal and writing team. Then add “California Dan” Lynn laying down the steady rhythm on his doghouse,
But wait, there's more! Nate Myers adding mandolin leads and fills. Julia Kent of blazing fiddle licks on soaring melodies.
The unique Blue Water Rambler sound. In our performances you will hear songs expressing our unique take on life both present and past in styles folky to bluegrass, Americana and roots.
Banjo-Jim Foerch picked up his first banjo in 1965 and hasn't put it down since. As a founding member of the regional touring band “Beats Settin' Home,” Banjo-Jim was busy pickin' and singin' all over the Midwest for 20 years between 1982 and 2002. He says singing the songs of Michigan, America and our lives to all the people we meet on tour is the best thing he's ever done. “Everyone I ever met here in Michigan or around the Midwest is proud of our home state and our country. Our songs express that pride the best way we know how- by getting us all singing together!”
R. H. “Bear” Berends holds down the rhythm with his big, black Martin guitar. As with so many baby boomers he started strumming guitar and singing folk songs in high school in the sixties. Bear joined Banjo-Jim and “Beats Settin' Home” at the Wheatland Music Festival in Remus, Michigan in 1993 and hasn't stopped playing and touring since. “I wanted to sing with Banjo-Jim, so I learned all his songs and taught him mine and here we are,” he explains. Whether delivering a lead line or harmonizing with his solid baritone, Bear sculpts the Blue Water Ramblers’ sound.
At times Banjo-Jim and Bear collaborate with our musical pals. For that high, lonesome blue grass sound we bring in “California Dan” Lynn and his bass. And for the full traditional sound we add the sweet mandolin licks of Nate Myers.
In 2002 at our Jam on the Grand a tall fellow with a bass fiddle joined in and told us he'd read about the Jam in the paper. “California Dan” Lynn wondered if the Ramblers might have a couple gigs for him, so Bear and Banjo-Jim offered him dozens! In addition to laying down the foundation of the music, Dan writes and leads crowd-pleasing bluegrass songs and harmonizes with a pure tenor voice on the rest. Dan moved here from California in 2000 where he had played with the old timey band “Crooked Jades.” Dan's roots in bluegrass and traditional music give the Ramblers a driving honesty which will keep your toes tapping and your fingers snapping.
Nathan Myers, lifelong guitarist influenced by country, blues and jazz, typically performs easy listening instrumentals. Upbeat swing tunes, well known standards, ballads and blues are on the menu.
Nathan is a long time music participant in central Michigan, being a back to the beginning member of the Wheatland Music Organization.
He is an accomplished instructor in private lessons and the Wheatland Music Organization's Community Education Lesson Program, as well as festival and other educational venues. Nathan provides solid rhythm and intricate leads. His playing will be often featured throughout the program.
Julia Kent was given a guitar when she was 5 but she really wanted a violin. After two years of lobbying – read 'bugging' ;>) = Mom and Dad she got one and took to it like a duck to water. Classical violin lessons were easily mastered and she performed in youth orchestras all through her teens. At the same time her parents, fans of traditional music, took her to the Wheatland Music Festival. She was intrigued by the old time, bluegrass, Cajun, blues and swing music and added those styles to her armamentarium of licks. At a Wheatland Festival she enjoyed jamming with the Blue Water Ramblers when she was 14 and so did not hesitate to say “yes” when we asked her to join us in 2022.