Sometimes the music chooses an artist. It can arrive in the form of a sound heard in the middle of silence, or maybe a certain guitar is ready to share its secrets. Either way, the spirit world is involved and there is no way to stop it.
Bo Ramsey is used to an outside world invading his inner world with deep messages and mesmerizing songs. The musician, who was born and raised in Burlington, Iowa, and has lived in Iowa City the past few decades, has carved out a unique career for 40 years. And it shows not one sign of slowing down. He has been involved in enough high-profile and low-down endeavors to have become somewhat of a legend, but a legend who still hides from the spotlights and leans away from stardom. Maybe that’s because Ramsey has mystifyingly maintained a devotion to the music side of the music business, and lets everything else fall by the side.
Many might recognize Bo Ramsey by his association with artists like Lucinda Williams, Greg Brown, Kevin Gordon, Pieta Brown, Charlie Parr and others. The list of Ramsey’s accolades is long: including Grammy-Award Winning Guitar Player, two-time Grammy Nominated Producer, Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and Iowa Blues Hall of Famer.
Ramsey made his debut in Williamsburg, Iowa in 1973, fronted the Mother Blues Band, and rose to prominence as a soloist when he opened for Lucinda Williams on her 1994 tour. He has produced or played guitar on several of her albums, including Essence, which was nominated for a Grammy Award, and appeared in her band in performances on The Late Show With David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and Late Night With Conan O’Brien and in Wim Wenders’ “Soul Of A Man” segment for the Blues series of Martin Scorsese.
He has also produced recordings for Joan Baez, David Zollo, Pieta Brown, Iris DeMent, Ani DiFranco, and Kevin Gordon, with whom he co-fronted a band, and worked as a guitarist with the above and with Elvis Costello. He has produced and worked extensively with Greg Brown, including an appearance in 1999 on A Prairie Home Companion.