The River Ratz

The River Ratz, a four-piece Acoustic Americana Band hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina, says they were born in Bluegrass, and bred in Rock ‘n Roll. With deep roots in Bluegrass music, they perform a wide variety of musical styles which includes not only bluegrass music, but also country, rock, Cajun, Irish, blues and folk.

Husband and wife, Steve and Margie Ratzlaff formed The River Ratz in 2014 along with their son Matthew on upright bass, with the bands name being a take in their last name. Soon after, Scott Lankford joined the band and then his wife followed him when Matthew left the band to join the Marines.

The two couples are accomplished multi-instrumentalists and frequently swap instruments on stage. Although their instruments mainly consist of guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle and upright bass, Margie said, “You never know what you might hear at a River Ratz show – harmonicas, flutes, washboards, kazoos and even cow bells often appear.”

Margie has been playing the piano since she was five years old, and played the clarinet in high school where she met Steve, who played percussion. Steve also played guitar. “In college Steve had an old banjo sitting around,” Margie recalled. “I learned to play it a little bit, and we began to play together some.”

They got married, and raised a family, but the music was never forgotten. “20 years later we picked it back up,” Margie said. “Our son Matt picked up the bass and the three of us started – just playing for fun. Steve got approached to play for a little gig though – and we said, ‘yes! We have a band,” Margie laughed. “And that’s how we got started.”

Their mission is to entertain audiences of all ages with tuneful acoustic music, strongly rooted in Bluegrass and Appalachian traditions. It’s their deep love of music and dedication to the craft that shines through in every show.

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