Don Richmond is a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumental performer who has been playing professionally for more than tforty years, mostly in the Colorado and New Mexico region. Don is currently performing solo and in ensembles, playing both his wide range of original songs and a large repertoire of other quality material in a variety of styles, primarily in the country, bluegrass and folk areas.
Don was raised in an extremely musical environment. His parents were both professional vocalists in the pre-WWII Chicago music scene, performing on radio, with touring groups, and as featured soloists with symphony orchestras. After beginning their family, Don's father became a well-respected vocal professor and his mother, after getting their five children in school, became an elementary school teacher. Don began playing trumpet in the elementary school band but soon discovered his older brother's guitar and started up his own band. He later added banjo, pedal steel, fiddle, mandolin, dobro, and harmonica to his list of instruments.
The early part of Don's musical career was spent as a member and later leader of the well known southern Colorado band Tumbleweed. Tumbleweed recorded four albums and a single over the years 1978 - 1989 and earned a reputation as one of the hottest and most consistent acts in the region. Tumbleweed won the Marlboro Country Music Round-up as the best country act in Colorado in 1988 and scored well in the national finals in Nashville. Don wrote thirteen of the songs on Tumbleweed's four albums of mostly original material.
He released his first solo album Mirage in 1989 on Howlin' Dog Records, playing eight different instruments as well as covering the vocals on the collection of eleven original songs. Don also wrote the song Land of Little Rain, which was produced in a community effort as a fund raising tape to benefit a citizen group fighting water exportation out of his area. Don teamed up with several of the region's best players for his second solo release, titled Story, released on both cassette and CD, also on Howlin' Dog Records. Story features songs of love and family and personal search, using simple and elegant mostly acoustic arrangements. Don’s third solo recording, titled A Lot in Common, came out in May of 1995. While still based in the acoustic string sound he loves, A Lot in Common ranges further stylistically than Story, with a bit more rock and blues influence apparent. The themes in A Lot in Common also range further out into the world, exploring more social issues. Don’s next solo CD was released in December of 1998. Titled Instrument, it is a totally instrumental project, showcasing Don’s love for the sound of acoustic instruments and his knack for creating listenable, catchy melodies. Don’s next solo release, No Man’s Land (April 2002) is centered around a group of “landscape” songs as he describes them, again reflecting his love of and connection to his home and surroundings in the high southwest. His most recent CD release is Like Lazarus (2010), the title of which refers to Don's return to health after a diagnosis of stage IV colon cancer in 2007. Don has been cancer-free since finishing treatment in the spring of 2008.
Don has recently been performing regularly with the New Mexico—based band The Rifters, who have become regulars at many of the region’s festivals and top clubs, playing their own particular brand of “Southwest Americana” for a wide range of enthusiastic audiences. The Rifters released their first CD in 2004, with a mix of strong original tunes and covers of songs from the bands eclectic repertoire, followed by The Great River in 2012 and Live at the Sagebrush in 2013. The Rifters grew out of a couple of former New Mexico bands—The Rounders and Don’s former band Hired Hands. Hired Hands was for many years one of the most popular acoustic bands in the area, and released three CDs— their first (self-titled) CD in 1994, followed by (December 1998) their extremely popular Stuff That Works, and their final release (June 2001), Hands of Time.
When not performing, Don spends much of his time working in the recording studio (Howlin’ Dog Recording) he started in his home town of Alamosa, Colorado. Serving as engineer, sometimes producer and sometimes studio musician, Don has been a part of many of the region’s recent CD releases by such artists as Michael Hearne, Mike Addington, The Mitguards, Don Conoscenti, Bill Hearne, Ash Raines, Chipper Thompson, Burning Joan, Mary Duwe, Elliot Rogers, Jimmy Stadler, Michael Hearne, and South by Southwest.
Don has had songs published by two different Nashville publishing houses and a Canadian publishing house, has won awards in several national and international songwriting contests, and is a regular contributor to the nationally syndicated radio program The Art of the Song, providing audio essays on enhancing creativity. He was commissioned to produce the background music for a PBS (public television) documentary about a Texas naturalist and author, titled Roy Bedichek’s Vanishing Frontier, broadcast nationally in 2002. Don also created the score and background music for the powerful Civil Rights documentary We Did It All Ourselves, a film about the voting rights struggles in Tennessee in the late 1950’s.
Don is an Artist in Residence in the Colorado Council on the Arts program to place performing artists in the schools, and is an approved Aesthetic Institute (another C.C.A. program) instructor and workshop leader on music and creativity. He has also recently completed a book for musicians on performance psychology and success, titled Getting Your Music Past the Fear. He has recently been collaborating with playwright Seyril Schochen on two different Broadway-style musicals. Don also produced and recorded two fundraising CDs of Christmas and holiday music (in 1997 & 1999) for Valley Community Fund (a local charity fundraising organization) each of which features twenty different San Luis Valley artists performing both traditional and original songs. Don was recognized for his contributions to his home town of Alamosa, Colorado when Alamosa’s new portable stage was dedicated to him at the town’s July 4th celebration in 2002.
Don's smooth, powerful vocal style, his impressive command of the guitar and his other instruments, his moving and creative original songs, and his fine selection of other writers’ material combine to provide a varied and pleasing musical experience for all who hear him perform. His years of experience playing everything from a sold out 10,000 seat arena to the rowdy bars in the little mountain towns give him a relaxed and confident stage presence that seems to provide an immediate bond with the audience, and a good time for all.
Don has appeared on stage with such national acts as The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Michael Martin Murphy, Guy Clark, George Strait, The Judds, Dan Seals, Willie Nelson, and The O'Kanes.
"Don Richmond's singing and songwriting pack a disarming punch, going down like good bourbon in Rocky Mountain spring water. Like his song says, his is a story worth telling."
Justin Mitchell, The Rocky Mountain News
"Richmond's voice has both character and warmth." "***"
Tom Popson, Chicago Tribune
"There have been a lot of golden nights along the Colorado - New Mexico border in the last fifteen years, and Don Richmond has put the shine on more than his share. A Colorado Peter Rowan..."
John Swinney, KTAO, Taos, New Mexico
"Check out this musician of many instruments and talents... This piece of work provides good acoustic listening. The mixing and recording quality are top-notch."
John Bricker, Power Pickin' (Colorado Bluegrass Association newsletter)
"A musician's musician. ...during this song a child right behind me stopped sitting quietly and started singing along right out loud. She didn't know the music or the words - only that she WANTED to sing with Don Richmond. I recommend you begin collecting Richmond's music, which on Story and Mirage covers folk, bluegrass, just plain pickin', popular, country, jazz, and blues forms. He's just beginning. In another decade I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the San Luis Valley's musical gem composed an oratorio, concerto, opera, and hymnal and meanwhile continued to pen the songs that endure as classics: Cathedral, Me and Chico, A Story Worth the Telling. There are many more."
John Hill, The Valley Courier