Friday, August 14th, 2020


Rag Mama Rag: Some Ol’ Day (Blues in Britain Review)

This is an excellent release from husband and wife duo,
Ashley and Deborah Dow a beautifully observed and crafted piece of Country Blues, derivative by dint, but superbly
executed throughout the 12 track CD. None more so than the highlight lead-out track, ‘Caution To The Wind’. A poignant
and evocative road song detailing the vicissitudes of a lonely life on the road but a life that would not be changed should there be
the chance! Ashley’s impassioned vocal, redolent of the great Levon Helm is set against some terriic harp from Deborah. ‘Fracking Man’ is a topical piece of green social comment with some lovely percussion before a jaunty ‘Georgia Bound’. The stomping and harp of ‘Get On Back To You’ is followed by
some gorgeous Country slide on the classic ‘How Can A Poor Man Stand’ with effective backing vocals. ‘Jim Canans’ is a raucous romp, with harmony vocals, guitar and washboard, a good time song celebrating riotous living. A picking and swinging Country Blues ‘Old Lonesome Blues’ is great fun before the haunting harp of a simple Blues, ‘Need You By My Side’. The title track is typical of the quality on offer here, a simple Country Blues, lovingly
executed preceding a couple of lovely covers. The closing ‘Way Down Behind The Sun’ is another belter with decorative harp and fine guitar on the perils of overwork which is beautifully depicted. Nothing new here maybe but a fine set of country blues bookended by two superb examples of the genre that are worth the entrance fee alone. Be sure to catch this talented duo and take this CD home with you.

Bob Chaffey
Blues in Britain

Rowledge Village Hall 2011 – Darrell Parsons – Blues in Britain Country blues in the quintessential English country – well Surrey to be exact! You couldn’t really say that the village hall in Rowledge resembled a juke joint, although there were certain similarities. The makeshift bar in the back room, doing a good trade in local beer (as well as wine), the main room with its array of tables and chairs and the support from the locals, all grabbing an opportunity to catch up with friends and enjoy a Saturday evening. Oh….and not forgetting the appearance on the compact stage of Rag Mama Rag, taking their interpretation of good time blues and rag music to the people as part of a busy UK tour, away from their home across the channel. The main room was packed, leaving standing room only near the bar by the time Deborah and Ashley Dow began their first set with the ever popular “I Can’t Be Satisfied”, followed by a rolling “Walking Blues” that got the toes tapping and generated good applause. The next forty five minutes or so took the audience on trip back in time, in the company of respected musicians such as Leadbelly, Big Bill Broonzy, Robert Johnson and Blind Boy Fuller, courtesy of Ashley’s magical National guitar and vocals, plus Deborah’s superb rhythm on washboard, percussion or her dexterity on the harmonica. “When I Was A Cowboy” and “Jitterbug Rag” kept up a nice pace, interspersed with a handful of slower numbers featuring Ashley’s Hawaiian guitar, before “Brownsville” and an atmospheric “Crossroad Blues” gave way to enthusiastic audience participation during “Minnie The Moocher” that generated a good thirst, judging by the queue at the bar during the break and added pressure on the village hall’s toilet facilities. The break in the live music also saw the tables and chairs nearest the stage being moved back a little, creating some space for a handful of dancers, keen to loose their inhibitions as soon as Rag Mama Rag returned with some up tempo boogie woogie and the Elmore James’ classic “Dust My Broom”. The band’s equally enjoyable second stint included another variety of styles, including country and Cajun influences, introducing the punters to the lyrical talents of former roving entertainers like Skip James and Scrapper Blackwell, plus homage to the rail system in the form of “Freight Train”. A link was drawn between between the current age of austerity and the Great Depression with “You Can’t Get The Stuff No More”, appropriately around the time the keg of beer in the bar ran dry. “Your Cheatin’ Heart” prompted another sing along, the dim lights preventing too many accusing glances being picked up by any deserving recipients, including an increased number on the makeshift dance floor by the stage, while the finale perhaps reminded one or two  present that they were only a day or so away from commuting to the City as the musicians promoted the attractions of “Sweet Home Chicago” in fine style. This was Saturday night entertainment in its most basic and attractive form and, if the queue for the band’s cd’s was anything to go by, hopefully not the last time this marvellous duo find their way to this neat village in the future. Check out for details of the band’s other appearances on these shores, to pack up your troubles for an evening!       SUTTON BLUES COLLECTIVE Station Pub, Sutton ColdfieldClive Sheard Rag Mama Rag  put on a superlative performance at The Sutton Blues Collective this Wednesday.  They were exactly the right sort of act for the ambience of this club.  A complex combination of traditional country blues. Both halves of the set were a seemingly endless stream of songs accompanied by Ashley’s fast and driving guitar playing backed by Deborah playing at different times on washboard, harmonica, spoons and an African drum, occasionally providing backup vocals.  There was even a couple of numbers played on the ukulele to provide light relief from the more intense sons.  Rag Mama Rag is definitely an act not to be missed.

Bluesnight at The Dorchester Arts Centre – Blues in BritainLewis A Harris It was with great pleasure that Rag Mama Rag were welcomed for their second visit to Bluesnights. The duo  set out to show us what they are about and it is top quality musicianship!  Their sets ranged from slower melodies to fast paced rocking blues, throwing in some superb finger picking for good measure ; talk about jumping in your seats.A wonderful evening, with each set packed full of numbers, amiably  presented by an unassuming yet multi-talented couple who did not leave anybody disappointed. There is absolutely no doubt about their calibre! A must see!.

THE 5TH BEER R&B FESTIVAL – Beer, East DevonRiley B James Ashley’s multi-guitared prowess, great vocals and Debbie’s harp, vocals and amazing array of things to hit and scrape and tap produce wonderfully atmospheric renditions of old  songs of various styles.  Outstanding  to me, “Take Me Up To The Church” (I believe) was so raw and intimate, I saw people visibly moved.  There was lots of fun too and I noticed a very particular attention to sound settings for each song. If you get a chance do see them do

The Chicago music NetworkTrevor Knightsmith. One word that was on everyone’s lips after their set was “Brilliant!”  It is a long time since I saw such an entertaining act as RAG MAMA RAG, they really are worth catching. I would urge you to go and see them, you will not be disappointed. Owner of the club, Bowden commented “These really are a cut above the rest, they are welcome back any time”

Blueprint magazine live concert review – The Lemon Tree, AberdeenFrank McFranklin & Gerrit McRenker Debbie’s mournful slow harmonica was particularly appropriate on “In The Pines”, a country-folk blues covered by countless artists including Dolly Parton and Nirvana.  Ashley’s original song “Lazy Good For Nothing Dude” with its New Orleans half time feel featured Debbie with her own clean style of short harmonica breaks.  “Rally Round The Flag” (Root) an inspiring pre-blues Unionist title from the American Civil War was followed by the original gathering-speed Cajun tune “Stealing Away”, both being instrumentals featuring Ashley’s Weissenborn.  Josh White’s excellent “One Meatball” had Debbie joining Ashley with backing vocals.  On the moonshine inspired instrumental “Applejack Rag” Ashley played ukulele (he warns us that a revival is in the offing) and Debbie took up the spoons for this lively title.  This midday session closed with another gathering-speed instrumental “Boogie Woogie Dance” ending sixty-two minutes of fine material choices, an acoustic treat.

15th Banbury Blues Festival – The Mill Arts Centre –Blues in BritainTim Porter We got off to a flying start with Rag Mama Rag.  Out came the solid steel guitar and straight into “Wing and a Prayer”.  The set contained a mixture of their own compositions and songs by the likes of Hank Williams, Mississippi Fred McDowell and Tampa Red.  In fact Tampa Red’s “Boogie Woogie Dance” had the audience in riotous applause.  Ashley also played an acoustic guitar and a lap guitar, where we were treated to some great slide work. Debbie was a blur of flying fingers and thumbs on washboard, drums and assorted percussion, not to mention harmonica playing. It all went to “rags” at the end with Blind Boy Fuller’s “Rag Time” and, for an encore, “Jitterbug Rag” to tumultuous applause.

BBC RADIO 2 Thursday 14th October 2003 8:00 PAUL JONES The classic blues show,  Feathering Ashley and Deborah Dow –  better known as RAG MAMA RAG – in the studio for a chat and a couple of songs from their new album.

rag & paul babyBBC RADIO 2   Thursday 11 January 2001 8:00PAUL JONES The classic blues show, featuring Ashley & Deborah Dow-better known as Rag Mama Rag-in the  studio for a chat & a couple of songs from  their new album STRUTTIN` & STROLLIN’






Important dates from the past:


  • festival – Dax Blues Festival 2015
  • 1éré partie – Procal Harum 2015
  • Festival – Jazz en Bouche 2015
  • Festival – Jazz au Fil du Cher 2015
  • Festival – Cognac Blues Festival 2015
  •  Villerbanne Guitar Festival, Mediatheque du Tonkin 2014
  •  Festival – Le Roc D`Antheron 2014
  •  Festival – Beynat 2014
  •  soirée – Billie Bobs, Disney, Paris 2014
  •  1éré partie – John Mayall. La Traverse, Cleon 2014
  •  Festival Jazz en Bouche, Notre Dame de Bellecombe 2014
  •  1éré partie – soirée Johnny Cash, Paris 2014
  •  Festival Country, Villeneuf de la Raho. 2013
  •  Festival Guitar, Gravelines. 2013
  • Festival Jallobound, Cestra. 2013
  • Festival Guitar en Save,Saint Paul sur Save. 2013
  • Festival Blues, Lezardrieux. 2013
  • Espace Jean Carnot, Le Vigan, 1er partie avec Gary Brooker et Andy Fairweather low, 2013
  • Festival Jazz en Bouche, Notre Dame de Bellecombe 2013
  • Festival Fort West, Saint Pere. 2013
  • Festival Jazz, Chateauneuf  du Faou. 2013
  • Citadelta, Blaye. 2013
  • Volcanic Blues, Le Mont Dore, 2013
  • Blues Station, Tournon, 2013
  • Festival Blues, Hawth, UK 2013
  • Festival Jazz en Bouche, Notre Dame de Bellecombe 2012
  • Paleo Ferme, Suisse 2012
  • Festival Blues, Reimsheid, Allemagne 2012
  • Festival Blues, Mettman, Allemagne 2012
  • Festival Blues, Blue Monday
  • Festival Genafest, Geneva 2012
  • Festival La Pamperina, Thiers 2012
  • Festival Blues Cahors 2012
  • Festival Guitar en Scene, Saint Julien en Genevois 2012
  • Festival Country, Evian 2012
  • Festival Blues, La Charite 2012
  • Festival Rendez-vous sur Endre, Suce sur Endre 2012
  • Festival Country, Maromme 2012
  • Normandy Country, Romilly sur Andelle 2012
  • Festival Beautiful Swamp Blues, Calais 2011
  • Festival Jazz /Blues, Grand Hotel de Vianden, Luxembourg 2011
  • Jazz / Blues , Abbaye  Nouvelle, Leobard 2011
  • Festival Cahors Blues, 2011
  • Festival Aqui Blues, St Julien de Lampon 2011
  • Festival Sud Country, Sommieres 2011
  • Festival Fort West, St Meloir des Ondes 2011
  • Festival Jazz en Bouche, Notre Dame de Bellcombe 2011
  • Festival Presqu’ile Blues, Ambilet 2011
  • Festival Jazz et Blues, Leognan 2011
  • Festival Guitar en Mountain, Notre Dame de Bellecombe 2011
  • Festival Ubangi Stomp, Benidorm, Spain 2010
  • Festival Village, Le Pauget, France 2010
  • Festival Apéro` Zique, St Pern, France 2010
  • Festival Blues & Folk, Binic, France 2010
  • Festival Good Time Jazz, Châteauneuf-du-Faou, France 2010
  • Festival Bluse Berry Nights, Bourges, France 2010
  • Festival Sekanami, Benin, Africa 2010
  • Concert for Hiatti, Cahors, France 1020
  • Festival Quadri Blues, Laval, France 2010
  • Festival de la guitare, Issoudun, France 2009
  • Festival Rootsway Roots n` Blues, Italy 2009
  • Festival Sighisoara Blues, Romania 2009
  • Festival Settembrinu di Tavagna, Corsica 2009
  • Festival Blues d`Avoine, Avoine, France 2009
  • Festival Gard au Jazz, Redessan, France 2009
  • Festival Blues Kwadendamme, Kwadendamme, Holland
  • Festival Blues Alive, Cuijk, Holland 2009
  • Festival Blues en V.O. St Gratien 2008
  • Festival Blues Belle Isle en Terre 2008
  • Festival Guinguette The Blues, Preuilly en Berry 2008
  • Jazz a Ussel, Ussel 2008
  • Festival Crazy Country,Villeneuve de la Raho 2008
  • Festival Western Road, Casteljaloux 2008
  • Banbury Blues Festival – Banbury, UK 2007
  • Festival Blues, Lax in Blues – Lax  2007
  • Fete du vin de Cahors – Albas 2007
  • Bay Car Blues Festival – Dunkerque 2006/2007
  • Festival Country – Villeneuve de la Raho 2006
  • La Pamparina Festival de Musiques de Rue – Thiers 2006
  • Cahors Blues Festival – Cahors 2006
  • Festival Country – Gramat 2006
  • Festival Sud Country Rock – Junas 2006
  • Festival Blues and Roots – Varenwinkel, Belgique 2006
  • Music Box Festival Paris – Poissy 2006
  • Banbury Blues Festival – Banbury, Angleterre 2005
  • Fete du Vin de Cahors – Albas 2005
  • Tradifolk Festival – Lunery 2005
  • Festival Blues – Jarnious 2005
  • Village Sessions – Charente 2005
  • Cahors Blues Festival – Cahors 2005
  • Guitar est dans le Pre – Rieus Volvestre 2005
  • Festival Love Blues – Sem 2005
  • Sud Country Rock Festival – Junas 2005
  • Festival Les Gaeilles de Bondes – Macau en Medoc 2005
  • Les Nocturnes de Vendredi – Thonon les Bains 2005
  • Sancy Snow Jazz-Le Mont Dore 2004
  • La Tournuit des Grands Duc-Belgique 2004
  • Festival Country-Brettes 2004
  • Les Nocturnes du Vendredi-Thonon les Baines 2004
  • Blues en Loire-La Charite/L 2004
  • Ete a Bourges-Bourges 2004
  • Festival International Blues Vallee-Saint Amans Soult 2004
  • Franch Country Festival-Trevillers 2004
  • 1éré partie – Sharrie Williams – Douzy 2004
  • 1éré partie – Benoit Blue Boy – St Gratien 2004 (Blues en V.O.)
  • 1éré partie – Bernard Allison – Soisy sous Montmorecy 2004 (Blues en V.O.)
  • Le Bon Air Est Dans Les Caves – Albas 2003
  • Festival Re`al Croche-Realmont 2003
  • Coupe des Confederations-St Etienne 2003
  • Festival Country Roque-La Roque D`Antheron 2003
  • Festival Presqu`ile in Blues-Le Pouliguen 2003
  • Festival Jazz a Toute Heure-St Rémy lés Chevreuse 2002
  • Les Années Joué,5e festival des arts dans la rue, Joué les Tours 2002
  • Festival de Blues-Le Creusot 2002
  • Villages Sessions- Charente 2002
  • Les Jeux Dits de l`ete-Meribel 2002
  • Festival de Théatre de rue, Les fondus du macadam-Thonon les Bains 2002
  • Les Rencontres du Blues-Les Sables d�Olonne 2002
  • Les Nuits du Blues-Fresseline 2002
  • Festival Blues-Pornic 2002
  • Festival Jazz et Blues d’Ozoir- Ozoir la Ferriere 2002
  • Les Nuits Tartares-Thonon 2001
  • Festival de Vivonne 2001
  • Cahor Blues festival 2001
  • Souillac Festival du Jazz 2001
  • Festival Blues Sur Seine-Mantes la Jolie 2001
  • Festival Blues-Salaise 2000
  • Festival Jazz en Villeneuvois-Villeneuve sur Lot 2000
  • Festival National de Blues-Le Creusot 2000
  • Festival Jazz en Artois-Arras 1999
  • Festival Blues Passions-Cognac 1999
  • Festival Le Blues Autour du Zinc-Beauvais 1999
  • Festival de la B.D. et Disc 1999
  • Festival Acoustic Blues-Tours 1999
  • Festival Apéro` Zique- Bécherel 1999
  • Festival Franch Country-Trevillers 1998,1999
  • Festival Herbiester-Jalhay 1998
  • Festival Veyracomusies-Veyrac 1998
  • Cahor Blues festival 1998
  • Les Nuits du Blues-Fresselines-Creuse 1998
  • Festival National de Blues-Le Creusot 1998
  • Convention Nationale de la Guitare-Issoudun 1996
  • Festival Jazz Action-Mayenne 1997
  • Festival-Viols en Laval 1997
  • Festival de Country -Craponne Sur Arzon 1995