Something has to be pretty good to last 20 years so it seems fitting to take a look back at the band that graced the cover of the very first issue of the Old-Time Herald two decades ago. The Slate Mountain Ramblers have been a mainstay of the dance and festival culture in central and western North Carolina and southwest Virginia for 24 years and are still going strong. Headed up by fiddler, Richard Bowman from Ararat, Virginia, the Ramblers started as group of friends and morphed into a family band over the years.
The original band started when banjo player, Ray Chatfield, looked Richard up for a tune on Tommy Jarrell’s recommendation. Ray had just moved to the area from Colorado and wanted to start a band. Richard hadn’t fiddled in 18 months since the birth of his daughter, Marsha, and he was ready to play. Dan Williams on guitar and Buck Stockton on bass rounded out the rhythm section. At the time of the first issue of the OTH Bill Mansfield had replaced Ray on banjo and Barbara Poole was playing the bass. They played at all the fiddler’s conventions in the area and started winning prizes right away.