The high-spirited Cajun dance music of the New Riverside Ramblers derives from the rich heritage of the bayous and prairies of south Louisiana. The band covers a spectrum from old-style fiddle tunes, lively two-steps, soulful waltzes, gritty blues to rockin' honky-tonk sounds – all the sounds from the dance halls and back porches of rural Louisiana. Inspired by legendary Cajun musicians, they overlay their own infectious feel that gets toes tapping. Their music can be as soulful as a sultry evening on the bayou or spicy enough to grab your boogie shoes – audiences always “pass a mighty good time.”
The band is a two-time winner of the Cajun French Music Association (CFMA) "Prix Dehors" award, given for the best recording by a Cajun band outside Louisiana. The band is also the 1st place winner of the 2016 Americana/Roots Band Contest at the Minnesota State Fair.
The New Riverside Ramblers have been playing together for over 25 years for dances, festivals, concerts, Mardi Gras festivities and other events. Although the band usually performs as a 6-piece ensemble with pedal steel guitar, bass and percussion, they also are often booked as an acoustic trio with only Cajun accordion, fiddle, rhythm guitar, and French vocals.
Eric Mohring: Fiddle & Vocals
Eric has performed Cajun music for over 30 years. He is a nationally recognized Cajun fiddler whose fluency in French contributes to his authentic Cajun vocals. Eric has been a fiddle instructor at Cajun/Creole week at Augusta Heritage Center, and played for many years with the nationally-known Bone Tones. A versatile musician who plays a number of styles of music, he can also be found playing mandolin and fiddle with the Café Accordion Orchestra.
John Terr: Cajun Accordion & Vocals
As early as 1975, John spent extended time in Louisiana visiting and learning from some of the great Cajun musicians of the generation before us. In demand as a rhythm guitarist, he is a co-founder of the Chicago Cajun Aces, and was a mainstay with the Chicago Barn Dance Company. Since moving to the Twin Cities in 2001, John played and recorded with the Cajun Hot Soles and with Kevin Anthony & the Twin City Playboys. He has long been on staff for Cajun Weekend at Wisconsin’s Folklore Village and on staff at Cajun/Creole week at Augusta Heritage Center (W Virginia). Recognized as a leading Cajun-style accordion player, he was a 2012 recipient of the Prix Dehors De Nous along with Kevin Anthony & The Twin City Playboys for their recording "Old Time Cajun Music." He’s brought his hallmark sound on the one-row button box to the Ramblers since 2014.
Karen Kleinspehn: Rhythm Guitar
Karen initially helped bolster the Cajun music scene through dance instruction but gravitated to Cajun rhythm guitar and has been a powerhouse in the band for over 25 years. Her driving rhythm gives the band its special pulse.
AJ Srubas: Fiddle & Pedal Steel Guitar
AJ has been playing fiddle since a young boy. He grew up in a musical family, mastering Irish fiddle early on. At the end of his teens, he got interested in other fiddle styles like Old Time, Bluegrass and Cajun and has become a renowned fiddler in all those genres. His diverse skills spill over as he steps up behind the fiddle and pedal steel guitar in the Ramblers. He can also be found on stages all over North America with Blake Miller and the Old-Fashioned Aces or Steam Machine.
Karl Smelker: Bass
Karl Smelker is known to many as the bass player with legendary local Blues band, the Minnesota Barking Ducks. But even a dyed-in-the-wool blues man like Karl was powerless to escape the unrelenting pull of Louisiana music. Karl played Zydeco with the Swamp Sextet and the Faux Playboys, and is currently playing Swamp Pop with, yes, the Swamp Poppas (!), as well as all manner of cool stuff with Hipbone.
Paul Loughridge: drums & triangle
Paul is an award-winning Cajun percussionist whose background is in jazz and rock. He is a dynamo on drums and triangle and was the backbone of the Bone Tones for many years as well as JJ’s Zydeco Paydirt. His top-notch, energetic style gives the band its captivating groove.