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The Road To CukoRakko: Jud Mize of Winston Ramble October 06, 2016 10:14

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Our latest segment, "The Road to CukoRakko," consists of a series of interviews leading up to CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival this weekend at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL.  We're continuing this segment by sitting down with Jud Mize of Winston Ramble, who will be playing on Saturday night on the main stage at CukoRakko. Based in Birmingham, Alabama, Winston Ramble is a homegrown, acoustic, folk-rock band. With members originally hailing from the free state of Winston County, AL, the band aims to interject the raw expression of rock-n-roll into the feel-good vibes of acoustic music.
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Winston Ramble is scheduled to play the main stage on Saturday, October 8th at 6:45 PM.  
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Let's get started with a little general history on the band.  Winston Ramble originally started as an acoustic duo which eventually evolved into the current five-piece.  What comes to mind when thinking back to those first few shows as a full band?
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Jud:  It was total chaos.  It was like, "Here...play a 4 hour show.  Here are the chords."  Justin and Ben had been doing it for so long.  You don't realize all the tiny things; the punches and dynamics that make it what it is.  The way we play covers that are so unique that it was like learning each song as something completely new.  One week, we were sitting on our butt working at Best Buy, and the next week we were playing a rock and roll show at Stillwater in Birmingham.  We were all friends going back to high school.  Martha, our drummer, didn't even play drums...I was like what in the world?!  The bands whole vibe is to play by ear.  Not anything structured or set in stone.  Just playing what feels right in the moment.  Everybody in the band is playing something just a bit different.  We have always been on the same page musically and it just works.
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You can hear a vast variety of influences coming through each Winston Ramble track.  How would you say you have gone about developing your individual sound?  Who and what do you look to as inspiration when writing original material?
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Jud:  We all kind of know what we want.  We look to each other for the inspiration instead of looking to the outside.  We all grew up with the same influences so we all know what we like and don't like.  The biggest inspiration for me now is Justin (Oliver) and Ben (Drew Benefield).  One of us will come up with an idea and the others will play on it and add to it.  "Cold, Cold Heart" started out as a slow and depressing song.  Justin wanted to speed it up and from there it turned into a bluegrass track. 
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It's been an exciting year for Winston Ramble.  The band seems to be picking up steam; adding more and more shows around Alabama the southeast.  What has been the core focus for you guys as of late?
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Jud:  The calendar has been full, and we've been focusing on playing each show with everything we have.  The set has been getting tighter, and more people have been coming out.  It's great.  Ben is really dialing in his electric guitar and it's rocking.  That new electric vibe is really shining through the new material.  We are all really excited.
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While the band is generally an acoustic, folk rock band, your music is also described as carrying "a funky, sometimes psychedelic, but ultimately an undeniable rock n' roll vibe."  Is the band's diverse sound something that comes natural, or do you make a conscious effort to mix things up?
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Jud: It definitely comes natural.  The way we play our songs transforms them into rock and roll tunes. "Working Mans Blues," "Scarlet Begonias," and a lot of our songs end and you feel like you have just heard a rock and roll tune.  We're not democrats.  We're not republicans.  We're not country.  We're not a jam band.  What we do is our own thing.   Our shows are like a bag of Chex Mix.  You're gonna hear a ton of songs you don't hear other bands play in that variety.
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Watch Winston Ramble's cover of "Workingman's Blues" here:
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We're coming up on a special weekend for Winston Ramble and the state of Alabama in general: CukoRakko.  You've been fortunate enough to play this festival in past years.  What is it that makes this festival so unique?  What does it mean to you guys to be back again this fall?
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Jud:  The geography and terrain are one of a kind.  Where else can you go in Alabama that is as spectacular as Horse Pens 40 and Steele in general.  There are a lot of friendly faces.  Everybody is there to have a good time.  Rain or shine.  Warm or chilly...everybody is getting down.  We cleared our calendar and will be there all weekend camping with everybody.  We turned down $600,000 worth of shows to be there...just kidding.  
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Before we wrap things up, what can your fans expect from Winston Ramble as you close out 2016 and approach the new year?  Any big plans on the horizon? 
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Jud:  Well, I just cleaned out the bands new van.  I've got all these extra tokens from the car wash, so we'll probably use those at some point.  We've got a lot of new material in works that are funky and rocking.  We have some great shows on the calendar to finish out the year.  We are working on getting out of Alabama, and the van is our ticket.  We are excited to share our music with as many people as we can.
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