Band of the Week: Lost Bob and the Ozone Ramblers

Concert Preview

Meet the Band: "Lost Bob" Tobik (guitar and claw-hammer banjo), Dick Judson (banjo, guitar and mandolin), Robb Kaplan (bass and harmonica), "Catfish" John (mandolin, fiddle and guitar) and Randy Solomon (dobro) 

Back in the Heyday: From 1978 until the late '80s, the band played every Monday night to standing room only crowds at Minnillo's Greenhouse. The owners, John, Paul and Tommy Minnillo had taken over the Little Italy restaurant and bar from their father. "They were our patrons and the biggest supporters of Lost Bob," says Solomon. "It was a coincidence that John and "Lost" Bob knew each other. When [owner] John Minnillo came out of restaurant school in Cornell, his internship was in Lexington where the house band was [the renowned bluegrass act] J.D. Crowe and the New South. When John found out that Bob was putting together a bluegrass band, he had us play acoustic and everyone enjoyed it." On the spot, he said he would open on Mondays for Monday Night Bluegrass at the Greenhouse.

Don't Call it a Comeback:  In the early '90s, the band took a break. But over the years they would periodically get together to reminisce and play their old Lost Bob tunes.  The current incarnation reunites front man  "Lost Bob" Tobik on guitar and claw-hammer banjo, resident humorist and award-winning banjoist Dick Judson on 5-string banjo, guitar and mandolin, Robb Kaplan on bass and harmonica, multi-instrumentalist "Catfish" John on mandolin and Randy Solomon on dobro. "It's the same group that we had for the vast majority of the time," says Solomon. "Lost Bob, who is Bob Tobik, is the public defender of Cuyahoga County.  So when we played in '70s, '80s and '90s, we had a large fanbase of people from the courthouse. The thing about the band is that everybody who comes to see us has fun. It's about having a good time.

Why You Should Hear Them: The band plays a good slew of bluegrass standards. "We also do a lot of Seldom Seen material, which is a longstanding great band of veterans from other bands," says Solomon. Songs such as "Ramblin' Fever" feature terrific harmony vocals. A mid-song banjo solo shows off the band's musicianship. "We do Bill Monroe and J.D. Crowe and the New South. We do the Country Gentlemen. The concert coming up will feature surprise appearances by people who either sat in with us or played with us at some time.

Where You Can Hear Them:

Where You Can See Them: Lost Bob and the Ozone Ramblers perform at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 23, at the Beachland Ballroom.

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About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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