Kirby Rambin

The Soul Queen of New Orleans Still Reigns

May 3, 2016
Lesli Rambin

Irma Thomas was born in Ponchatoula, Louisiana in 1941. Although she never achieved the same level of stardom that her contemporaries, Aretha Franklin and Etta James did, she has earned the title "The Soul Queen of New Orleans," and is in many ways an ambassador of the city.

Library of Congress

Along the Red River and just north of Shreveport lies the town of Mooringsport, Louisiana. Out of this bucolic and unassuming community came a man who would forever change the face of American music.

Huddie Ledbetter, or Leadbelly as he would come to be known, was born in 1885. His parents were both former slaves, and these humble beginnings filled with old spirituals and field hollers would shape Leadbelly's music throughout his life.

Jukin' Into the History Books

May 3, 2016
Geraldine Oliver Barbin

Little Walter was a true pioneer of the blues. He helped bring the harmonica into a spotlight of its own. He became one of the great Chicago bluesmen, helping define and solidify the sound that would become Chicago Blues.

Born Marion Walter Jacobs in Marksville, Louisiana in 1930, Little Walter grew up playing in local clubs with his cousin, Boogie Jake, and later moved to Chicago to seek his fame. In Chicago he met Muddy Waters and became a member of his band in 1948. Eventually, Walter set out on his own, recording for the Checker Label, a subsidiary of Chess. 

The Lost Bard of Louisiana

May 3, 2016

Alcide Gaspard, otherwise known as Blind Uncle Gaspard was born just south of Marksville, Louisiana in 1880. Blinded at the age of seven, Gaspard grew up playing and singing with his brothers, and in local string bands. 

Gaspard came from a community descended from the original French settlers of Louisiana, and this particular dialect of the French language seems to have completely disappeared.

Byway Blues: Ivory Joe Hunter

Sep 24, 2015

Ivory Joe Hunter was born in Texas and blazed a blues trail through the heart of the Louisiana Delta. 

Hunter's musicianship brought honors from different genres of music.  He was recognized by jazz festivals and the Grand Ole Opry.

In the fourth part of the Byway Blues Special, hear about Hunter's travels in northeast Louisiana during the 1940's.

Byway Blues: Blind Joe Reynolds

Sep 24, 2015
courtesy /

In Part One of the Byway Blues Special, Kirby and Lesli Rambin feature the early days of Blind Joe Reynolds.

Reynolds, born in Tallulah, Louisiana, also spent time growing up in Richwood.  He went on to record music in New York and Memphis.  

Kirby interviews Linda Bowman, Reynolds' niece.  She shares the story about her uncle losing his eyes as the result of a shotgun blast of bird shot, following an argument.  Bowman adds that despite the incident, Reynolds never slowed in his passion for blues music.

cgauthier2112 /

Click here for a collection of stories featured in this program.

KEDM Public Radio begins its Fall Membership Campaign with a two hour special celebrating local blues legends. Byway Blues airs Friday, September 18, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Hosted by Louisiana blues historians Lesli and Kirby Rambin, the program showcases northeast Louisiana’s rich musical heritage with area musicians such as National Blues Hall of Fame Inductee Doug Duffey. Duffey speaks about his new 11 piece band, Louisiana Soul Revival.

Trailblazin' The Blues In The Bayou State

Jul 28, 2015

A love of the blues brought them together.  Now, Kirby and Lesli Rambin hope to bring historic locales and people of the music to everyone in a Louisiana Blues Trail.

"We were at a wedding reception in late May, and Kirby's grandfather, Bill Rambin, said you guys spend so much time in Mississippi, why don't you create a Louisiana blues trail," said Lesli.

At their table, they started writing names and places onto cocktail napkins.  The paper trail continued during  the drive home.  A few piles of paper and napkins were sorted through and the project was underway.