Varied influences heard in Richmond’s sound

Musician Scott Richmond will perform in Yorkton tomorrow.

The Gravelbourg, SK, native says music is something that just seemed to come naturally.

“I think it was something I was born to do, but I never got my start in it until I was 19,” he said. “I always sang for fun growing up, but never publicly. When I was 19, I taught myself to play guitar and began to pursue music seriously. I won several songwriter competitions a couple years later.

“I moved down to Colombia, South America to work for a few years after that and I wrote and performed music while down there, and once I came back to North America, I ended up in North Carolina for a couple of years and then Nashville eventually and recorded my first album there.”

Richmond, who grew up on a farm/ranch, naturally gravitated to country-influenced music.

“I grew up on country music,” he said. “That’s all we had on AM radio.

“Garth Brooks was my hero as a kid, but I also had some Springsteen cassettes that I listened to endlessly. I wouldn’t say I’m a country artist though. I may have some country tendencies at times, but other times I don’t at all. As I got older, I started listening to a lot of Hank Williams and Waylon Jennings, and sort of moved away from mainstream country.

“But my musical influences are so diverse that it’s hard for me to really pinpoint any specific ones. Dylan, Young, and Springsteen are three that come to mind.

“I listen to folk, country, blues, soul, pop, rock and roll, salsa, classical and occasionally some hip hop. I think living down in Colombia really influenced my musical tastes though. I think a lot of people up here tend to take music really seriously. Music you hear in dance clubs isn’t taken seriously or viewed as having any real artistic value. People are a lot less pretentious about music in South America and it made me less pretentious. I feel music can serve many different purposes and there is a time and a place for all of it.”

With such a philosophy Richmond takes a rather broad view of what can inspire his work.

“Life,” he responded to a question on inspiration. “I’m someone who is constantly in amazement that anything exists at all. I’m a pretty emotionally intense person. I feel things very deeply, and I think it’s those emotions that inspire me the most. Especially with my new material. A lot of those songs come from a pretty difficult time in my personal life.”

The first album of course drew from a bigger library of material created over a much longer time frame.

“For the first album, I had a list of about 50 songs out of a couple hundred that I had written over five years or so, and my producer, Gabe Masterson, and I narrowed the list down to 12 and eventually released nine on the first album,” said Richmond.

“For this new album that I am recording now, I wrote about 50 songs this past year and have chosen about a dozen out of those that I’d like to have on the next album.”

Currently Richmond is at work on a new recording, one he expects will release later this year.

“The first album was a pretty amazing experience,” he began. “I recorded it with some of Nashville’s best musicians. People that had worked with some of my musical heroes. Kris Wilkinson, who has played strings for Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young, Kim Morrison who sang with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Colin Linden who played with Bob Dylan.

“The first album is a mix of songs inspired by some pretty eventful and life-changing years travelling through Latin America and much of the Southern U.S.”

The new work is more connected to a particular time in Richmond’s life.

“I think the new music, some of which we will play at this show, is different in that it was all written and inspired by what has been going on in my life over the past year,” he offered. “The new songs are much more personal, but I also feel like I’ve grown as a songwriter.

“When I write songs now, I always write with the live performance in mind. I want to have a live show that really has a big impact on audiences.

“So the way I write songs now always keeps the performance in mind.”

Richmond said whether on disc or on stage, he tries to offer listeners an experience.

“I think I’m both a dynamic performer and songwriter, and I think most people who have heard the album or seen me live would agree,” he said. “The album was named the #1 Country/Roots Album of 2014 in the Winnipeg Free Press and also made it onto many other Top 10 lists. I like to change things up when I perform and write. Highs, lows and the entire gamut of emotions.

“When I perform, I like to engage with the audience. I feel music should be an interactive and participatory art form. A performance happens with an audience, not for an audience. And I think that’s what really sets me and my band apart from a lot other bands. We want to engage everyone that is in the room.”

As for what are his personal favourites, Richmond said that can depend on the day.

“It really depends on my mood,” he said.

“‘Rain on the Rooftop’ and ‘Bettin’ Man’ are a couple crowd favourites for sure. They are a bit more high energy and a lot of fun to perform.

“‘Smooth Talker’ has always been one of my personal favourites though because of the amazing piano and guitar performances on that one by Colin Linden and Matt Heasley.

“‘Two Years Gone’ is another one I really enjoy. It’s my ode to Saskatchewan. I even say Saskatchewan in the song.

“But if I have to pick one, I would say ‘Fades Into Silence’. I feel lyrically it’s the strongest song on the album, and over time its meaning has changed for me and become more and more powerful.”

The current disc will be available at the show, but it is also available online on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and other digital formats.

The Yorkton show is really the start of the summer season for Richmond.

“Our spring/summer performance schedule is just starting to get into gear and Yorkton is one of the first of this spring,” he said. “We will be pretty busy performing all over Saskatchewan over the next couple of months and later this year, once the new album is released, we will be touring across Canada.”

The Yorkton performance is at 7 p.m. May 19, at the Anne Portnuff Theatre. Tickets for the Scott Richmond concert are now on sale on at $15.75 including GST. Tickets at the door will be $21 including GST.

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