Arcade presents NOLAfied: R&R Music Group


R&R Music Group

Sam Ergina, Online Arcade Editor

R&R Music Group allows cats to spread their wings, a phrase that makes much more sense to those familiar with the life and lingo of jazz. 

The group formed three years ago in New Orleans. It started as a simple jam session before evolving into a performance group that eventually hit Frenchmen Street. Rob Ramson, the leader and one of the founders of the band, has a specific mission: to use the band’s platform to introduce interested students and musicians new to New Orleans into the city’s legendary jazz circles.

“We designed [R&R] specifically to help cats on their feet,” Ramson said.

New Orleans attracts many aspiring musicians to its scene with its incredibly rich musical heritage. From far away places like Turkey and Colombia, artists take a pilgrimage to jazz’s birthplace. Ramson noticed that the deeply ingrained tradition that attracts so many, however, can sometimes fuel elitist sentiments as well. Some see New Orleans as a place where only established artists or homegrown talent deserve the opportunity to perform in its sacred venues.

Giving students the accessibility to play and integrate themselves within the community of jazz musicians here was the inspiration behind R&R. It provides the gigs aspiring musicians crave, though it’s a demanding job and reveals the challenges that come with regularly performing in New Orleans. 

“[Ramson] asked me if I wanted to gig and gave me a week to learn 30 songs,” bassist Stuart Coles said. “It really helped me get into the scene, though. By the end of the summer I was playing seven gigs a week.” Coles is from Arkansas and pursuing a master’s degree in education.

The group rotates between members, so there are many people who encompass R&R. At the performance in The Tulane Hullabaloo office, there was Rob Ramson and Bruce Menesses on saxophone, Stuart Coles on bass, junior Dehan Elcin on trumpet, Leo Hernandez on keyboard and Pat Keleher on percussion. Besides Ramson, all of the band members are students from around the U.S. and abroad who have gathered for opportunities to immerse themselves in New Orleans jazz and fun.

The fun they were having was evident, as there are not many people who exhibit the vivacity of jazz musicians like this group. The charming and easy-going demeanor of R&R Music Group quickly spread through The Hullabaloo’s office as they performed a few songs before sitting down with The Arcade section to attempt a serious interview. The serious part was quickly abandoned. Ramson had a contagious smile that escaped any chance it got. He constantly cracked up with his fellow musicians over jokes they all made. For a band with fairly common interchanges between old and new members, the guys seemed like a tight group, connected by their dedication to music.

The people in the group possess an incredible love for music and performance. This was obvious considering their constant urge to improvise a new rhythm or a new string of notes during their in-office performances. They constantly and playfully challenged each other. Rob Ramson and his “cats” aim to push themselves to explore the unlimited world of music just a little bit more every time they play.  

Check out R&R Music Group’s cover of “Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd below.

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