The Ranch Girls & The Ragtime Wranglers, Wow!

The very beginning:
Here's Mary Ann. I want to tell you a story to give you an idea of the history of our band as it is today. Let's go back to how the Ranch Girls got started. We had been friends for a long time and I was playing in a band "The Greyhounds" with Joe Sixpack on guitar and Sietse singing. In Rotterdam they just closed a rock and roll club, so there wasn't much going on the city. That's why Caroline used to travel along with "The Greyhounds" and if the band wasn't playing Caroline and I would go to see other bands.

At that time there were not any female harmony groups in Holland, maybe not even in the whole of Europe. Well as opinionated as we were, we decided that we would change this. So we gathered some friends together and started a harmony group called "The Half Pint Pygmies". As the name might suggest, we were not the tallest ones around. We were still looking for a repertoire. The others were interested in 40's jive, but we had the idea of doing hillbilly / western-swing songs, so before we did any gigs we were seeking for another adventure.

The fact that we hardly could get musicians with "The Pygmies" didn't hold us from doing what we wanted to do. Once a week we got together and rehearsed the songs we wanted to sing. We told everybody who wanted to listen about what we were doing, skipping the fact that we didn't have a band.

And then it happened: one day at a rehearsal we got a phone-call if we wanted to play on a festival. "Sure" we answered, being so thrilled about the phone-call. There was no way back. They even put us on the flyer. Now we were facing our first major problem: where can we find the musicians. It was rush-hour on the phone. We called almost anyone that could hold an instrument, and you know what... in one week time we gathered a complete band.

On the road:
Amsterdam 15 June 1991, at the Cruise-Inn's D-day festival was our very first show! It must have been the worst gig we did. Right before we got on stage a thunderstorm broke loose. It must have been mother nature, warning the audience that we were on next. So you could say we took the place by storm. Joe Sixpack and Sietse have been staying with us from this festival on. They formed the solid center of this brand new band.

At the festival we met 3 guys who wanted to start a hillbilly band as well and so we joined forces; "The Ranch Girls and the Drifting Texans" were born. We played for 2 years before we had our first band change. We were looking for an acoustic guitar-, steel- and bass-player, and, although it took a while, we found them. The name was changed into "The Ranch Girls and the Ragtime Wranglers": Joe Sixpack on guitar, Sietse on drums, Errol on bull-fiddle, Buzz on steel-guitar and Jerome on rhythm guitar (6 or 4 strings depending on how many he had left), backing up Caroline and me. The picture below is our second promo-shot.

With this line-up we had been travelling all over Europe for about two years, until Jerome left the band to play lead guitar in another band. Errol, who had started a tattoo shop in this period, left us one year later. He was replaced by the bass-player of "Get Rhythm": Erwin. The Ragtime Wranglers backed up legendary artists like: Sid and Billy King and "unsung hero" Hardrock Gunter. Just in time Erwin joined the band to back up Curtis Gordon on a tour in Germany.

We had never expected that two wayward girls could gather all these fine musicians. And let me tell you: it is a hard task for four guys to be around two demanding Ranch Girls.

At the end of 1996 we recorded our 2nd CD and we played for the 3rd time at the major Hemsby festival in the U.K. In November that year Europe was "Ranch-Girl-free" 'cause we went to the U.S.A. to play on the Fairmount-festival in Indianapolis and at radio WDTR in Detroit. Although we've done a lot of festivals, these big ones are nerve-racking, but as soon as we can get a grip on a mike-stand we're all right.

In 1997 we worked hard to promote our second CD which came out in the beginning of that year. We did a European tour in the summer. We played at several big festivals like Mirande in France and the "Rock-it" festival in Munich Germany. At this festival the Ragtime Wranglers backed up the Collins Kids from Reno, Nevada. In December that year we changed bass-players again! Erwin was too busy with his other band, playing weddings, restaurants, parties and funerals. He has been replaced with Patrick, who had just returned to the Netherlands after living in Canada for two years. Coincidentely he had been the former bass-player in Erwin's band before he left to Canada.

The last few years:
1998 was a busy year. More or less a lot of happenings from the previous years were repeated, like, playing at Hemsby (4th time), retuning to the U.S.A. and the Ragtime Wranglers backed up the Collins Kids again.

My first solo project was issued in May. We recorded three songs with an uptempo beat. They were issued on an E.P. on Goofin' records from Finland. Though everyone is asking for CD's, we are still vinyl-minded! The year 1998 was also the birth-year of the bands magazine: Lowdown Hoedown. It was well received and because of that the band will continue to put out this fanzine!

Later in 1998 we had another change in the band. After 9 years of "ranching" Caroline decided that it was enough for her and wanted to explore other territories. She won't be seen on the "ranch-stage" on a regular basis anymore. Friday the 10th of July in Denver U.S.A. was her last show with the band. Caroline was replaced by "Lil' Esther", who stayed with the band just a year.

Then Mary Lou (top, left) was asked to join the band. Mary Lou had already joined the band on stage at some occasions; singing standards from Patsy Cline and obscure songs from Donna Darlene. "O.K.!" she said and the 23rd of June 1999 was the first show with "Mary Ann and Mary Lou". Everyone in the band was immediately overwhelmed by her huge enthusiasm. Shows in the U.K., Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Swiss followed, with increasing fun at each show. On our Scandinavian and U.K. shows the band was reinforced with Los-Angeles based steel-guitar-picker Jeremy Wakefield. The picture below shows the Ranch Girls with Sietse in Sweden summer 1999.

Since these days the line-up has been as follows: Ranch Girls Mary Ann and Mary Lou (vocals) backed up by our boys "The Ragtime Wranglers": Joe (guitar/steel-guitar); Sietse (drums); Patrick (bass) and Jerome (mandolin). The band still hangs its hats in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

In May 2000 we returned to the States again. This time we weren't headed for a big festival, but we toured the West-Coast. We started travelling in Seattle, all the way down to San Diego, then Arizona, New Mexico and concluded our trip in Denver Colorado. The picture at the end of this story shows the Ragtime Wranglers at the Bluebird Theatre in Denver Colorado.

Then, summer 2000 my solo CD was released. I wanted to do something different, different type of songs, different bandoutfit etc. Since this date I am giving solo shows, next to shows with the Ranch Girls. So now we are playing regularly, with two totally different bands.

Also in 2000 we toured France, and more international shows in Germany, Belgium and Barcelona, Spain. You can find a small video-clip of the show in Barcelona at our website.

Whoa, look at how long this letter turned out. We're sorry. It was great talking to you, but we have to go!!! We have some singing to do. Take care, so long and see you soon!

The Ranch Girls & The Ragtime Wranglers are:
Mary Ann and Mary Lou - Vocals
Sietse - Drums and Percussion
Patrick - Double Bass
Jerome - Acoustic and Electric Mandolin
Joe - Acoustic and Electric Guitar

Contact information:
P.O. Box 21685
3001AR Rotterdam
The Netherlands
Tel. +31 10 4123398 

Story by Miss Mary Ann, (c)2000 Home Brew Music, Inc.
Used with permission.