“A Scorching Live Proposition ”
— Kevin Bourke, R2 Magazine
‘Ragged Union with Benny ‘Burle’ Galloway’
~ A national mandolin champion (Jordan Ramsey), a cult-hero songwriter (Benny ‘Burle’ Galloway), an award-winning banjo player (Chris Elliott), a highly respected fiddler (Justin Hoffenberg), and a creative and driven bandleader/songwriter/singer and flatpicker (Geoff Union).
Formed in the winter of 2013, on the Front Range of Colorado, Ragged Union has made a name for itself at renowned festivals and events in the US and the UK, as an ‘updated-traditional’ original bluegrass band. The music sounds of a piece with the bluegrass tradition, with modern and varied songwriting, lyrics, and arrangements that allow it a comfortable co-existence in the trad., progressive, and jam grass worlds. The band has appeared at IBMA Wide Open Bluegrass, Northwest String Summit, John Hartford Memorial Festival, Darrington Bluegrass Festival, Topanga Festival, and major UK festivals including Shrewsbury, Musicport, Didmarton and Purbeck Valley Festival.
Their second album, Time Captain, released in October, 2017. The effort features eleven original numbers, and an update of Joe Val’s version of the cowboy classic, Diamond Joe. Time Captain reached #7 nationally on the Roots Music Americana radio chart, with songs covering the range from blazing-fast bluegrass romps (‘Diamond Joe’, ‘If You Don’t Love Me’), to medium stomps (‘Bridge on Fire’), a hard-driving waltz (Leaving Town), some veritable jam grass (Half Lit Parking Lot) and even some old-time melodic songs (‘Moonshine Boogie’ and (‘Leaving Louisville’). Maybe not something for everyone, but definitely a multi-dimensional sound that has the salt to please both young and old, listeners and dancers alike, and one that has earned critical praise for its respect of the roots and its willingness to branch out.
The band has been through some personnel changes, none perhaps more profound than the most recent. Longtime lead vocalist, Christina Union, played her last show with Ragged Union in November 2017 (Geoff and Christina are married, and both parents touring had become too hard on their young daughter). In January 2018, the band began working with Benny ‘Burle’ Galloway on upright bass and vocal. Burle has been one of the best-kept musical secrets in the country, with songwriting credits on albums by Yonder Mountain String Band, The Infamous Stringdusters, Greensky Bluegrass, and Drew Emmitt. His songs, both complex and simple, sound like they are a hundred years old, yet connect with the listener on a level that few songwriters achieve. With songs so powerful, Yonder Mountain String Band, after putting at least one of Burle's songs on every one of their albums to date, chose to make an album with Burle, consisting only of tunes by Burle, with special guests like Tim O’Brien, Jerry Douglas, Sally Van Meter, Darol Anger, Casey Dreisen and Dirk Powell. This album, billed as “Yonder Mountain String Band and Benny Galloway”, “Old Hands”, debuted at #5 on the Billboard Bluegrass Charts and is one of Yonder Mountain String Bands best selling albums to date.
2018 tours will take them to NC, TN, GA, WA, OR, UT, ID, CO, and back to the UK. This collaboration is brand new - the group has just had time to perform two shows in Colorado - but it already feels like a unit that has been playing together forever. Burle has a long performance history with Ramsey, Elliott, and Hoffenberg, and with the songwriting affinity between Galloway and Union, and a little bit of contrast, Ragged Union has opened a door for itself into a musical world that is even richer and wiser than the one it was already inhabiting.
Previous Festival Appearances:
Northwest String Summit • John Hartford Memorial Festival • Musicport Festival (UK) • Topanga Banjo and Fiddle Contest and Festival • IBMA Wide Open Bluegrass • Kerrville Folk Festival • Durango Meltdown • Darrington Bluegrass Festival • Shrewsbury Folk Festival (UK) Las Vegas Bluegrass Festival • UllrGrass • Mid Winter Bluegrass Festival • Far West Folk Alliance Official Showcase • SwampnGrass • High Mountain Hay Fever Mid Winter Bluegrass Festival • Groovefest Utah • Keystone Bluegrass Festival • Bluegrass on the Arkansas • Banks of the Wabash Festival • YarmonyGrass • Evergreen Bluegrass Festival • UllrGrass • Crested Butte Arts Festival • Golden Fine Arts Festival • AvoGrass • Pallet Fest • Taste of Colorado
What They're Saying
‘A contender for the title of Colorado’s next great bluegrass band' - Centennial Sounds
‘Ragged Union is a great example of a group that keeps refreshing that genre and Time Captain will appeal to old and new alike.’ - Shawn Underwood, Twangeville, 10.31.17
‘Authenticity, utter devotion to the music, its history & traditions, and sincerity are all qualities I look for in a band in this style, and Geoff & Co. have all of that and more!" -Steve Henwood, The Bell Inn, Bath
‘Geoff Union's "Moonshine Boogie," witty and irresistible, is another kind of classic bluegrass, and among the most impressive new old-sounding songs I've heard in a while.’ - Jerome Clark, rambles.net 12.16.17
For a full listing of reviews, click here