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Carroll County Ramblers continue tradition of bluegrass

The Carroll County Ramblers have been a staple of the county's bluegrass community for more than 50 years, passing hands over the generations. This Saturday, the group will bring its renditions of traditional country and bluegrass hits to the Carroll Arts Center for a special performance.

The Ramblers were founded in 1961 by Dotty and Leroy Eyler; today, their legacy lives on as their children, Bonnie and Dale, carry on the family band with performers Dave Robertson and Al Mundis. Bonnie Eyler said her mom learned the guitar when she was just 10 years old, a skill she passed on to her family after marrying Leroy. Bonnie Eyler was 12 when she first debuted on stage with the Ramblers playing the violin, but she didn't officially join the group until she graduated from high school in the '70s.

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"I've always been into this type of music, because I listened to it growing up all through my life," Eyler said. "My parents were always playing the old country music or bluegrass, so I grew up listening to Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and all the old country music stars."

Over the years, the Ramblers have performed throughout the country, playing at the Kennedy and Lincoln centers, and touring through Mississippi, Georgia and California. Though she enjoys touring, Eyler said it's always nice to return to a hometown crowd in Carroll County. The group frequently performs at the Carroll Arts Center as well as at other festivals and shows throughout the county.

Eyler said it's a thrill to be able to carry on the family legacy by keeping the Ramblers alive. She said there's nothing better than performing with her brother on stage.

"If you're not playing music, it's like what are you even doing on a Saturday night?" Eyler said. "It's been instilled in me for so many years. You have fun doing it. You bring your friends into it, and you make a lot of friends along the way."

While some people battle stage fright, Eyler said performing surprisingly acts as a stress reliever for her and her brother. She said when times are tough, she can always count on a performance to center herself and find her passion for music.

Though she's a fan of many genres, Eyler said her love always comes back to bluegrass, the music of her youth.

"Bluegrass is just so much more exciting. And on top of being exciting, it's also heartfelt," Eyler said. "A lot of songs touch your heart, and at the same time, to hear somebody tearing into a song can make you feel like tapping your foot, dancing around and having a good time with it."

Over the years, Eyler said she's seen young performers take up the torch of keeping bluegrass alive. She said it's exciting to be a part of a chain to bring the genre to a new generation of talents. When she sees young people picking up the style, she said she's reminded of her own childhood in a bluegrass home.

"I think it definitely needs to be passed down," Eyler said. "That's where bluegrass lives. You know, it can be a soothing music to the soul. It can give you peace."

410-857-7890

Twitter.com/Jacob_deNobel

If You Go

What: Carroll County Ramblers

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When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 18

Where: Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., Westminster

Cost: $12 adults, $10 Carroll County Arts Council members, children 18 and younger and seniors older than 60.

For more information: Visit www.carrollartscenter.org or call 410-848-7272.

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