One of Durango’s longest running music traditions is being immortalized. With Room 223 at The Strater Hotel now dedicated to the Blue Moon Ramblers, the band’s 35-year history with the hotel will forever be remembered. You’re watching the Local News Network, brought to you by Kroeger’s, ACE Hardware, and The Payroll Department. I’m Connor Shreve. The Blue Moon Ramblers have served as the Strater Hotel’s weekly house band, playing the Diamond Bell Saloon Sunday nights since the late 1980s. Rambler’s co-founder and banjo player, George Usinowicz, credits nearly 50 musicians who have stepped in at various times over the years to keep the band going.
Whether they came in and sat in for, you know, one song or many or for a set or for one night or for multiple nights or for years, and each one of them was extremely important in order to, you know, keep us going and get to where we are.
Usinowicz founded the band with fiddle player Red Greer, filling a slot that opened after Strater Management decided to give its regular honky-tonk piano players a night off. The rest is history, so to speak. And that history is why it made sense to dedicate a room to the band.
You know, The Strater is in the business of recognizing history. We are continuing to be relevant to our community in that way, and we are really proud to have had this opportunity, especially with this particular group today.
Strater Hotel General Manager, Tori Ossola, says the band is the first musical act to have a room dedicated, joining notable community members, celebrities, and others who share a history with the hotel or area. The Blue Moon Rambler’s history is a long one, but still, after more than three decades, Usinowicz says his appreciation for the gig and the music is only growing.
I don’t want to say it’s a religious experience, but it is something that I honor, I respect. I just feel that I’m walking into not quite a temple, but I’m walking into an environment where, man, I’m going to be playing with friends. They’re going to be listening to my banjo, which takes a lot of jokes. It’s something that has not gotten old. If anything, I would say in response to your question, it’s grown. I mean, I’m thankful. I have so much gratitude.
That gratitude is a two-way street.
What kid doesn’t want to go home and say to their parents, “You’re not going to believe what I’ve just heard tonight, who I’ve met tonight.” And I’m not a kid, per se, but I certainly am honored to tell my friends and family near and far about who I know and who I get to hang out with on Sunday nights. And so I’m really excited about this.
Usinowicz credits the Strater’s status as one of the top heritage hotels in the country with helping the band spread its brand of Americana music to a vast array of visitors.
And having guest lists of people from all over the world. I mean, this is an international place. And it is thrilling as a musician, as an entertainer, to look at on your audience and have people come up to you from Holland or from Japan or Germany, and they just start talking. And thank you very much for giving us a slice.
Usinowicz says The Strater also gave musicians a slice. He remembers a time in Durango when local acts were just looking to get off the sidewalk. And as the band plans to continue its weekly gigs at the Diamond Bell, Usinowicz hopes partnerships like the one between the Blue Moon Ramblers and The Strater Hotel proved to be a bell weather for local music. For more information about this and other stories, visit durangolocal.news. Thank you for watching this edition of The Local News Network. I’m Connor Shreve.