This article is a contribution from Kevin Richardson, guitarist with The Larry Stephenson Band. He shares a few words about he has achieved his dream of becoming a professional bluegrass performer.
Born in Pinehurst, NC in 1979, I missed some of the best bluegrass ever played. I’m speaking of Flatt and Scruggs. As a guitar player, one of my heroes passed away that same year, Lester Flatt. I started my bluegrass career at the age of 5 playing banjo, and then switched to mandolin.
It was at the age of 7 I discovered the instrument that changed my life – the flat top guitar. At this time I discovered Tony Rice and knew that I wanted to be a lead player. As with most young players, I overlooked the singing because I was so consumed by the flashy licks that caught my attention.
I soon found out about many other guitar players including Del McCoury and Jimmy Martin, which stunned me with their rhythm but even more so with their singing. But like most of us guitar players in that time, Tony Rice was the way to go -a so-called triple threat: lead, rhythm, and singing.
I respected and still do those guys who stunned us with their strong rhythm and vocals. They didn’t need the flashy licks, when a well placed G-Run would knock your socks off! However, I stuck with the Rice style again because it was very attractive to me. At about the age of 11 I discovered Clarence White….a flat picker I had overlooked, but while playing at fiddlers conventions, many people reminded me there would not be a Tony Rice without Clarence. After a lot of study, I agreed. They were two great pickers, Tony was influenced by Clarence and then developed his own style. I, in turn, combined both of their styles to create my own style which is still heavily Rice-influenced.
One of my goals was to always play in the professional realm. My opportunity came when I met up with Lou Reid of the Seldom Scene, which I might add is another guitar influence of mine. It was with Lou that, while still having a White/Rice style, I learned how to develop my own talent, most importantly learning to sing. I thank Lou for his patience with the young teen me at the time. I spent close to 7 years with the great Lou Reid Band which showcased many great guitar players over the years.
Another love of mine is writing….after recording my first solo CD…I was honored to be nominated for Song Writer of the year in 2012 at SPBGMA, along with many other great writers.
In September of this year I was honored to play in the Tony Rice Tribute at the Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival. Going back to my childhood, I represented Clarence White and Tony Rice and their impact on the music that has given me so many great opportunities to live out my dreams, and that night will forever be a highlight of my career.
After years of hard work I’m currently playing with the award-winning Larry Stephenson Band out of Nashville TN. The Larry Stephenson Band is fresh off a new CD titled Weep Little Willow, which is my 3rd project with Larry. I am honored to share the stage with Larry, Matt Wright, and the great Kenny Ingram as we share this music I love called bluegrass.
At the age of 37 now, my future is wide open, I hope to soon record my 2nd solo album with some of my heroes, and more original tunes.
My advice to the young pickers…..”Embrace every moment in your journey and remember the ones that paved the way for us.”