The Blue Water Ramblers are lead singers who take turns harmonizing with each
other to create the Blue Water Rambler tapestry of sound. Banjo-Jim Foerch sings of the sailors, farmers,
lumberjacks, politicians and workers. Bear Berends
croons the love songs and delivers protest songs old and new.
Banjo-Jim Foerch picked up his first banjo in 1965 and hasn't put it down since. As a founding member of the regional touring band “Beats Settin' Home,” Banjo-Jim was busy pickin' and singin' all over the Midwest for 20 years between 1982 and 2002. He says singing the songs of Michigan, America and our lives to all the people we meet on tour is the best thing he's ever done. “Everyone I ever met here in Michigan or around the Midwest is proud of our home state and our country. Our songs express that pride the best way we know how- by getting us all singing together!”Bear
R. H. “Bear” Berends holds down the rhythm with his big, black six and twelve string guitars. As with so many baby boomers he started strumming guitar and singing folk songs in high school in the sixties. He joined Banjo-Jim and “Beats Settin' Home” at the Wheatland Music Festival in Remus, Michigan in 1993 and “Da Bearster” hasn't stopped playing and touring since. "I wanted to sing with Banjo-Jim, so I learned all his songs and taught him mine and here we are," he explains. Whether delivering the lead line of a love song or harmonizing with his solid baritone, Bear sculpts the Blue Water Ramblers’ sound.
At times Banjo-Jim and Bear collaborate with our musical pals. We love adding Tom DeVries with his blazing mandolin and melodious tenor voice. For that high, lonesome, blue grass sound we bring in California Dan Lynn and his bass fiddle.
“Dr. Tom” DeVries has been entertaining all over the Midwest since his early twenties. Between 1979 and 2001 Tom was the front man for the popular Michigan bluegrass band, The Hill People. When asked why he loves picking with the Ramblers these days, he responded, "There's nothing I'd rather do than find a good song, work it up with the boys and deliver it to an enthusiastic audience. And that's what the Ramblers are all about!"California Dan
A few years ago at Jam on the Grand a tall fellow with a bass fiddle joined in and told us he'd read about the Jam in the paper and knew we needed a bass player. “California Dan” Lynn wondered if the Ramblers might have a couple gigs for him, so Bear and Banjo-Jim offered him dozens! In addition to laying down the foundation of the music, Dan writes real crowd-pleasers and harmonizes with a pure tenor voice on the rest.
Dan moved here from California where he played with the “Crooked Jades.” During that time Dan and the Jades evolved from a blue grass band to a free style old time show band. Dan's roots in all that traditional music give the Ramblers a driving honesty which will keep your toes tapping and your fingers snapping.
When the Ramblers need a fiddler for special gigs we turn to our old friend “Deacon Marten” VanEyk. Little did his parents know that years and hundreds of dollars of classical violin lessons would produce a fiddler instead. Whether fiddling old time tunes as Banjo-Jim calls square dances or jamming hot leads on the our bluegrass burners the Deacon is right on top of them. Many Michigan musicians have fond memories of performing at Mocha 'n' Music, Marten's coffee shop/venue in Hudsonville that featured live music six nights a week from 2005 through 2013. He kept the music playing and he keeps the music playing.
Blue Water Ramblers Dance Band
When it's time to dance, the Blue Water Rambler Dance Band presents an evening of singing calls - lines, squares, rounds and reels sung to melodies old and new. If you've never participated in a traditional country dance, Banjo-Jim will gently show you what to do. And for you who do know a 'dosey do' from a 'left allemande', we'll keep you spinning and whirling til the cows come home! Woooooo-ee!