Amerikan Rambler with Colin Woodward

Based in Richmond, Virginia, Amerikan Rambler discusses history, music, film, politics, and pop culture. The show is hosted by Colin Woodward, a Damn Yankee, historian, writer, and archivist. He is the author of Marching Masters: Slavery, Race, and the Confederate Army during the Civil War. He is writing a book on Johnny Cash. You can reach Colin at his Twitter, WordPress, and Facebook page.
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Amerikan Rambler with Colin Woodward



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Jul 16, 2018

Andrew Huebner has a new book out, Love and Death in the Great War. A professor at the University of Alabama, he talks with Colin about his latest project and how it relates to his previous book, The Warrior Image. They discuss how Americans perceived the First World War as a great moral crusade, and how venereal disease was at times seen as an even greater menace than combat.

What did the war mean to the Progressive Era? How did it change America and its values? Did the war make disillusioned modernists out of stuffy Victorians, or was it more complicated than that? Listen as Colin and Andrew talk about the first large scale war Americans fought in the 20th century.  

Jun 30, 2018

Ever wonder what it's like to be inside the mind of Amerikan Rambler? Well, it might be something like this: a mishmash of TV and movie clips, comedy bits, and creative impulses. For the first time, you get to hear original Amerikan Rambler poetry! Yes, Colin reads two works about famous people, "I Rode on a Plane with Kierkegaard" and "I Had a Beer with Bukowski." So, get your Revolution 9 on, y'all. It's the most avant garde episode yet! 

Jun 18, 2018

Kevin Levin is a veteran of the history wars. He is perhaps best known for his popular blog Civil War Memory. But he is also a teacher and published scholar, who has not backed down in the face of intimidation from the "heritage" crowd. A native of New Jersey, Kevin has degrees from the University of Maryland and the University of Richmond, where he wrote a thesis on the Civil War that became the basis for his first book, The Battle of the Crater: War as Murder.

At a cozy hotel in downtown Charlottesville, Colin and Kevin talk about doing history and how it often treads on uncomfortable political ground. Also, Kevin talks about his new book project, soon to be published by University of North Carolina Press, which addresses the myth of black Confederate soldiers. Can historians really make themselves heard above the political noise surrounding Confederate monuments and the Rebel flag? Do facts matter in an age of "fake news?" Listen and find out!

Jun 15, 2018

The country lost two greats recently. One, Ira Berlin, was a professor of United States history and the slave South at the University of Maryland. He was also a former guest on Amerikan Rambler (episode 28, posted in October 2016). The other great was Anthony Bourdain, who became a household name as a writer, chef, and world traveler. Colin talks about the contributions of both of these men and how Anthony Bourdain seemed to epitomize the empathetic celebrity in a America where we see a shocking empathy gap.

On a more upbeat note, Colin talks about seeing Robert Plant for the first time in Richmond, and how the former singer for Led Zeppelin manages to blend the old and the new into an entertaining and professional music package that covers country, folk, and arena rock. 

Jun 7, 2018

A. Wilson "Will" Greene has been around. A native of Chicago, Will is perhaps the Guinness record holder for most miles traveled by a historian. His education and career in the National Park Service took him all over the country, from Indiana to Florida, Louisiana, and Virginia. He lives in Tennessee now, but he keeps busy. And on the road. 

In the lobby of the Marriott in Newport News, Will talks with Colin about his adventures at Louisiana State University in the 1970s studying with T. Harry Williams and Bill Cooper, doing weekend radio in New Orleans, and the events that led him to Pamplin Historical Park in Petersburg, Virginia.

Will is the foremost authority on the battle of Petersburg. Now that he's retired, he has even more time for research. His most recent book is A Campaign of Giants: The Battle for Petersburg, which is the first in a trilogy examining the longest "siege" in American military history. Parts two and three are in the works. Will is also one of the founders of the Civil War Trust (now the American Battlefield Trust), which has preserved thousands of acres for future generations to study and enjoy.  

Jun 6, 2018
Jun 6, 2018
May 31, 2018

It's part two of Colin's talk with How is this Movie? podcast host Dana Buckler. R-rated movies aren't what they used to be, but it was Dana's discussion of great R-rated films that attracted the attention of Phil Joanou, the director of Three O'Clock High, Entropy, and U2: Rattle and Hum. He also made one of Dana's favorite films, State of Grace, where Joanou had his hands full with Sean Penn and Gary Oldman.

Colin not only gets to mention C.H.U.D. for the first time ever, he also offers his list of ten movies he loves, one of which is Dana's favorite: Jaws. Apparently, even a malfunctioning 1970s shark still makes both of them scared to go in the water.

Plus, Dana tells us why he loves James Cameron and Quentin Tarantino and why the Rock is no Arnold Schwarzenegger. And, if you want discussion of newer movies, Colin and Dana examine the greatness of the low budget character study The Florida Project. It's another episode of movie madness!

May 24, 2018

Cinephile Dana Buckler is the host of the How is this Movie? podcast, where he writes, edits, and narrates episodes exploring the history of many of the greatest and most beloved films of all time. As they discover, Colin and Dana have a lot in common, not just their love of movies and history, but the fact that they've lived a long time in the South, and that they miss the old days of the video store. Together, they take you through a tour of the last thirty years or so of the movie experience, from the rise and fall of VHS and DVDs, to the perils of attending the latest blockbuster. As Dana makes clear, being a film-goer is not always easy. It's part one of a two part movie talk!

In the introduction, Colin talks about the recent run of bad weather and the need for more concise and honest weather men.

May 16, 2018

Stephen Rockenbach is a professor of history at Virginia State University, where he has taught the Civil War and U.S. history for the last twelve years. But as he tells Colin, his pursuit of history began with playing Civil War era music on the banjo. In addition to playing bluegrass, he is also a historian of the Bluegrass State. In 2016, he published his book War upon Our Border: Two Ohio Valley Communities Navigate the Civil War, which is available through University of Virginia Press.

Stephen's book examines events in southern Indiana and northern Kentucky, where the war played out quite a bit differently than in other theaters and often descended into guerrilla fighting. His book helps us understand the divided loyalties of people caught between North and South. Why are there Robert E. Lee monuments in Kentucky? Stephen's work shows how Kentucky, as the saying goes, "became a Confederate state after the Civil War." It's a story of race, reunion, and the triumph of Lost Cause ideology in one of the most important regions during the Civil War.  

May 7, 2018

In part two of Colin's interview with Steve Bassett, the two talk about Steve's career after the success of "Sweet Virginia Breeze." In the late 70s, Steve began writing jingles and working with session musicians across the country. He talks about meeting and touring with Delbert McClinton, opening for Steve Ray Vaughan and B. B. King, touring with Willie Nelson, and recording for Columbia Records in Muscle Shoals with Jerry Wexler and the Muscle Shoals band the Swampers (featuring Dave Hood, bass player and father of Drive-By Truckers's Patterson Hood). Also, Steve and Colin talk about Johnny Cash, getting old in the music industry, and how things tend to come "full circle." It's another hour of music talk! 

In the intro, Colin talks about his visit to Oakwood Cemetery, home of 17,000 Confederate graves.

Apr 30, 2018

Musician Stave Bassett has a new, funky album out called Tres Leches, named after a dessert at Richmond's Kuba Kuba restaurant. Steve's from Richmond, but his long career has taken him from the River City to Nashville, Muscle Shoals, New York City, and Chicago. Steve is perhaps best known for his song "Sweet Virginia Breeze," which he co-wrote with Robbin Thompson in 1978. A few years ago, it became the official popular song of Virginia.

Steve talks with Colin about how he started as a drummer before moving on to keyboards, his early career in North Carolina, and how "Sweet Virginia Breeze" happened. It's part one of two hour talk about the music life.       

Apr 24, 2018

Adam Bulger is a Jersey guy who's always had a humorous take on American lit, music, and politics. Colin and Adam survived (more or less) Trinity College, where they wrote for the alternative campus paper The Other Voice. Now they're catching up after 20 years of school, work, kids, and travel. They pretty much pick up where they left off, discussing politics, music, and what's it's like to dedicate a life to writing. Adam, who works for the website BTRtoday in New York City, talks about the story behind Freddy Kruger, noir fiction, and what it was like to interview Hunter S. Thompson and David Cross. Hopefully, their next talk won't take 20 years!

Apr 15, 2018

Colin reads from his recent paper, published in the Arkansas Times of Little Rock, about Tom Murton and the Arkansas prison scandal of 1968. Murton was a prison reformer from California, who dug up three skeletons on the grounds of Cummins farm fifty years ago. The scandal rocked Arkansas, embarrassed Governor Winthrop Rockefeller, and made news around the world. Murton's story, which became the basis for the film Brubaker, involved everyone from Dick Cavett to Johnny Cash.

The article begins at around the 6 minute mark. Enjoy!

Apr 5, 2018

Given his schedule lately, which has taken him from Virginia to Louisiana to California, you might think there's more than one Ed Ayers running around. As president of the Organization of American Historians, president emeritus at the University of Richmond (where he is also Tucker-Boatwright Professor of the Humanities), and author of a recent prize winning book on the Civil War, Dr. Ayers stays busy.

Ed talks with Colin about growing up in Tennessee, his graduate studies at Yale, and a life spent studying the South--from its prison system to the Civil War and beyond. His latest book, The Thin Light of Freedom: The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America won the Lincoln Prize for 2018. It's Ed Ayers's second appearance on the podcast, and this time it's for a full hour.    

Mar 28, 2018

Liz Covart is the host of the popular history podcast Ben Franklin's World. As someone with a Ph.D., she has worked hard to find success as a scholar in the world outside of academia. She talks with Colin about growing up in the Boston area, moving to California to study early American history with Alan Taylor, and the work involved in podcasting and staying relevant on social media. Her efforts have paid off, and last year she won Best History Podcast from the Academy of Podcasters. Interested in good history or even starting your own podcast? Liz is here to help. 

Mar 19, 2018

Colin Bailey is best known for his work with the Vince Guaraldi trio, whose inspired music helped make the Charlie Brown television shows famous. Colin, though, has played drums with many of the best musicians in the business, from Victor Feldman, Miles Davis, Stan Getz, and Frank Sinatra, to Joe Pass, Mel Torme, and Joao Gilberto. Colin tells Colin about growing up in wartime England, his long career in jazz, his thoughts on the Beatles and Ginger Baker, his work on The Tonight Show, and why Astrud Gilberto owes him fifty dollars.

In the intro, Colin talks about Lucky, the last movie starring the great Harry Dean Stanton. To conclude the podcast, Colin offers some wisdom from Charles Bukowski about getting your work done.

Intro music: "Samba de Orfeu" from Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus and "Charlie Brown Theme" from A Boy Named Charlie Brown.    

Mar 14, 2018

Jarret Ruminski lives in Canada now, but he is an Ohio native who has long studied the American South. In the fall of 2017, he published his book The Limits of Loyalty: Ordinary People in Civil War Mississippi. Colin and Jarret talk about the Civil War, but also the perils of the history field and what it's like to be a "recovering academic." Also, what would a talk among historians-who-love-music be without a discussion of Drive-By Truckers? It's a conversation about history, surviving the Trump era, and life after grad school. Aspiring Ph.Ds, you have been warned!  

Mar 8, 2018

Jon Bachman stops by again to talk music and history. As always, the conversation begins with a discussion of modal jazz, then makes twisted turns into Virginia folklorist A. K. Davis, southern mystic Edgar Cayce, and, of course, Johnny Cash. Also, Jon talks about the upcoming albums by his son, guitar wizard Daniel Bachman.

In the intro, Colin rambles about the recent blustery weather, the start of baseball season, and why you should never casually google Klaus Kinski.   

Feb 28, 2018

Greg Hansard just finished his first book, German Sailors in Hampton Roads: A World War I Story at the Norfolk Navy Yard, and he talks with Colin about teaching full time after many years of adjunct work and having a 9-5 gig. He also discusses his grandfather's experiences in France in World War II, playing baseball in Germany, and the joys of craft beer. You know, the usual stuff you hear at an Applebee's.

In the intro, Colin talks about getting over yet another cold, his unabashed love for his old Zune, and the uncertainties of owning a Mickey Mouse record player.   

Feb 20, 2018

Historian and confirmed Anglophile Graham Dozier returns to the podcast to talk about his recent visit to London, where Colin lived for a semester back in 1996. Listen as two Civil War guys manage to get through a whole conversation without discussing Richmond monuments! Instead, Colin and Graham discuss why Cromwell died three times, the Mouse Trap's pretty good run, and the pointless mudbath that was World War I. It all begins and ends with the Beatles, of course.

So, hold on tight to your bumper shoot, have a bite of spotted dick, and try not to spill your cuppa Earl Grey. It's the most English episode yet (Patrick Carr excepted)!

Feb 15, 2018

It's part two of Colin's talk with Gettysburg College professor and author Pete Carmichael. Hear more about Pete's work, the Civil War, and today's politics of commemoration.

In the intro, Colin talks about seeing a bunny movie and how it didn't quite make as much of an impact as seeing Nazis melted when he was five.

Feb 7, 2018

Pete Carmichael is one of the busiest Civil War historians working today. He talks with Colin about growing up in Indiana, living in Richmond, and landing in Pennsylvania. He's now a professor of history and the Civil War at Gettysburg College. He has a book coming out in the fall on the "common" soldier of the Civil War. He discusses his latest work, but Colin and Pete cover everything from sports to the Confederate monuments debate. It's a two-part Amerikan Rambler extravaganza!

In the intro, Colin talks about the Super Bowl, the late comedian Bill Hicks, and the odd similarity between one Confederate soldier and Dustin Hoffman.   

Feb 6, 2018

The Rambler be ramlin'. Enjoy this fire pit chat as Colin talks about recent movies, writing projects, TV shows, and the 2018 inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In this episode, Colin hopes to answer timeless questions such as: Why doesn't Link Wray get the credit he deserves? What is Danny McBride doing in an Alien movie? And just what is Yoda's problem, anyway? It's another amazing episode of free content!

Feb 1, 2018

Michael Streissguth is a music writer, teacher, and filmmaker. His latest project is the documentary film he directed, The Nighthawks on the Blue Highway. He and Colin talk about how he got interested in music as a kid growing up in D.C., his books on Johnny Cash, and his collaboration with the Nighthawks. He also discusses his earlier work on Jim Reeves and Eddy Arnold. Lot of music talk here! 

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