Richard March goes a bit beyond new Americana strum and twang. A San Francisco native who landed in Sacramento by way of Nashville, March should be considered a true California bard.
As a songwriter/storyteller, March is a modern day throwback to the melodic, progressive country music stars of several decades ago when folks like Mickey Newbury, Kris Kristofferson and Glen Campbell were regularly heard on radio and seen on evening television. Creating the Wallflowers-esque sound heard in his buyoant live shows and on his latest (fourth) album, Levee Road, is March's long time bandmate, bass player and cowriter Tyler Ragle, drummers Kevin "the Father" Priest or Phil Speer, and occasional guest soloists Chris Ivey on pedal steel, Ken Burnett on mandolin, or the Beer Dawgs' Steve Wall on guitar and midi. His live performance skills have garnered him opening positions for Johnny Cash's legendary backing band the Tennessee Three, folk icon Ramblin' Jack Elliott, the popular Steve Forbert, bluesmen Nick Gravenites and John Hammond, Straycat Lee Rocker and western soul cult heroes the Hacienda Brothers.
Where he began sharing stages with favorite contemporaries Matt Nathanson, Box Set and Noe Venable in his San Francisco days, his more recent Sacramento and greater Northern California experiences have included the likes of Jackie Greene, the Bittersweets, Johnny Dilks, Mother Truckers, Julie Roberts, and Mumbo Gumbo.
Richard is a Sacramento Area Music Award (SAMMIE) winner for Outstanding Male Vocalist, received a Best of Sacramento award from Sacramento Magazine for best local Americana artist, and was awarded Best Locally Produced Album in the Sacramento News and Review's 2007 "Best of" issue. Richard is on rotation on NPR's Blue Dog Jams and has been heard on Air America as well as other various outlets in California and Oregon, has made several local television appearances, and is considered to be at the forefront of the Americana scene in the Sacramento area.
Most recently, the song "Libraries" has found a fan in Rosalie Howarth at KFOG in the Bay Area and has been heard on her shows Acoustic Sunrise and Acoustic Sunset and was at the top of her favorite albums of 2007. More info can be found on Richard's site, with songs and press links on the music page or on the myspace, but Ramblin' Jack Elliott may have said it best last August--
"That young man can turn a phrase... he's a good 'un."
Richard March- lead vocals, acoustic/electric guitar, harmonica
Tyler Ragle- harmony vocals, bass (and cowriting)
Kevin Priest- drums
Soloists vary by gig.
Levee Road (2007). Produced by Matt McCord & Richard March
These Dreams (2004). Produced by Richard March & David Houston
Richard March (1999). Produced by Richard March & Ramon Lazo
The Bridge (1996 - as Walkintha Big Dog).
Best of Sacramento - 11.07
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Richard March is known to dance with his fans. "When I play, I don't want people to sit and listen."...Richard March is known to dance with his fans. "When I play, I don't want people to sit and listen." says the local harmonica-playing, guitar-slinging crooner. "I want them up and moving around and enjoying themselves." A little bit country and a little bit rock 'n' roll, March-- who has released four albums, including his latest, Levee Road-- compares his sound to The Wallflowers and Ryan Adams. In addition to performing at other venues, March hosts and plays at Americana Ramble, a bimonthly Thursday night gig downtown at Marilyn's on K featuring local and regional roots musicians. Check it out-- and be sure to wear your dancing shoes.
Trust Your Ears - 05.03.07
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Once upon a time in another California, when everybody’s dad wore flannel shirts and put Brylcreem i...Once upon a time in another California, when everybody’s dad wore flannel shirts and put Brylcreem in their hair, if they still had any, and drove around in pickup trucks with camper shells with truck radios permanently glued to KRAK radio 1140 AM, it was pretty damned hard to avoid Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. At least for those of us melanin-deficient types who grew up in the small towns and bigger-city suburbs in this part of Okiefornia, there was no escaping the music of Buck and Merle, along with Johnny Cash and a bunch of other country acts. And if you tried to switch the dial to a rock or, dog forbid, soul station, you got shut down pretty fast.
Maybe that’s why I still hear Haggard songs in my dreams. It’s a throwback to an earlier California, one that’s rooted a lot more strongly in this state’s Old West identity. And maybe that’s why Richard March’s new CD, Levee Road, resonates so nicely.
Now, most of Levee Road isn’t the kind of hard-twangin’ Cee & Dubya that sent my sainted mum running for the safety of her Robert Goulet records whenever ol’ pop cranked the KRAK on his Jimmy’s AM radio. Not that it’s all urbane, either: It’s just that March’s songwriting comes from the same smart place that Haggard mined in his heyday, the place you found once you got past his badass posturing on “The Fightin’ Side of Me” or the inside joke of “Okie From Muskogee” to hear gems like “Silver Wings” and “Big City.”
There’s a musical sweet spot that Haggard’s better records always hit, and March often nails that spot on Levee Road. There’s even a bit of overt homage, as March’s song “Libraries,” with its line “they’re closing all the libraries,” references Haggard’s “They’re Tearin’ the Labor Camps Down.” And now that Air America-type radio stations have dropped “Libraries,” with its succinct delineation of what’s gone wrong in America over the last quarter century, into rotation as a bumper, it isn’t hard imagining March getting propelled into some kind of populist bard, like our own homegrown John Mellencamp figure.
Sonically, March hews closer to Mellencamp or to the more country flavored songs of, say, Steely Dan, than he does to the kind of gasoline-marinated country music that barreled out of Bakersfield in the 1960s. Still, he’s more country than any of the benighted stuff coming out of Nashville these days.
March and his band still play the Americana Ramble every Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. at Marilyn’s on K Street. Dig it now, because if Levee Road is any indication, that residency won’t be a forever thing.
Public service: On Thursday night, May 3, the Mat Marucci/Doug Webb Trio Featuring Kerry Kashiwagi will play a record-release party at the Clarion Hotel, 2600 Auburn Boulevard, for its new Cadence Jazz CD, No Lesser Evil. Show starts at 8 p.m., admission is $8 (or $6 for seniors and students), and there’s a jam session afterward.
And over in Davis, there’s a Whole Earth Benefit Show at 8 p.m. on Sunday, May 6, at the newly remodeled Varsity Theatre at 616 2nd Street, featuring Jason Webley and Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band. Donation is $10.
Miles of Music Review - 05.07
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Jackson Griffith, the erstwhile editor of Pulse magazine, wrote "[Richard March] is at the forefront...Jackson Griffith, the erstwhile editor of Pulse magazine, wrote "[Richard March] is at the forefront of Sacramento`s recent explosion of first-rate Americana acts. A homegrown John Hartford, with a firm grasp of American folk, bluegrass, and the iconography of rolling boxcars, and Dylan-esque political jeremiads, March at times sounds like a bluegrass Waylon." March`s voice is full of soul, reminiscent of a younger John Prine. as he lyrically searches for answers to life`s questions. His backing band provides muscular support. This is how folky rock is supposed to cover both kinds of music.
Dancing Down the Americana Road - 04.20.07
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For a guy who puts a lot of time and thought into the songs he writes, Richard March is surprisingly...For a guy who puts a lot of time and thought into the songs he writes, Richard March is surprisingly cool if audiences want to dance -- rather than pay attention -- to his music.
"People don't dance enough," March said in a recent telephone interview. "Two hours of dancing a week can do a lot to help you out."
March, who also hosts the weekly Americana Ramble concerts Wednesdays at Marilyn's, will headline Saturday at The Palms in Winters, accompanied by guitarist Steve Randall, bass player Tyler Ragle and drummer Kevin Priest. They will perform songs from March's latest CD, "Levee Road," as well as tunes from his three previous recordings.
"If I play 13 songs, there might be one song that's not a dance number," he said. Also on the bill Saturday is another local band, a honky-tonk country outfit called Rowdy Kate.
March is a native of the Bay Area, the son of two teachers; his father teaches in Pacifica and his mother in the Hayward school district. March did substitute teaching in San Francisco and in Nashville, Tenn., where he lived for a while before moving to Sacramento about five years ago.
"I spent about six years working in the public school system," he said, "holding onto the music dream but keeping substitute teaching as a fallback."
"Levee Road" is a collection of 13 well-crafted songs in the roots mode. They are realistic, sometimes impressionistic sketches of everyday life and recognizable characters.
One of the best tunes on the new CD is "Damon and Jill," a slice of life that sounds like what the future might have been for John Mellencamp's young lovers Jack and Diane if it were described by Bruce Springsteen.
"Most of my songs come from personal relationships and places," March said. "I have not the best luck in the realm of romantic and long-term relationships. I'm getting better."
Lyrics for Change - 03.15.07
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Richard March is one of few locals who plays a brand of music that’s unabashedly country, à la the B...Richard March is one of few locals who plays a brand of music that’s unabashedly country, à la the Bakersfield sound. His musical background is highly varied. He has played in metal cover bands and a Blues Brothers tribute band. He was a church choir director and has performed in operas and musicals. It’s not exactly a Merle Haggard-esque biography, and even though his pop influences shine through, you could say March’s music tends to—oh, who can resist a bad pun?—march to the beat of a country drummer.
March’s first musical efforts were rooted in pop music, but the country genre seemed a more comfortable fit for his lyrical songwriting style. “The main thing with country is the songs, more often than not, are a narrative, a forthright presentation of the song,” March said in a recent interview. “That’s as opposed to indie or punk, which are wonderful genres, but which tend to focus more on the emotion or the sonic quality of the music as opposed to being a lyrical narrative.”
March has been a huge supporter of the local country and roots music movements, first hosting Nashville Nights at the Blue Lamp and, for the last year, hosting the weekly Americana Ramble at Marilyn’s on K. But although he’s generally identified as being a performer of country music, he doesn’t fit the stereotype of a Toby Keith flag-waver. March tends toward the left side of the political spectrum, and he’s not afraid to make that known through his songs.
“I think in the last couple of albums maybe one or two songs have been political,” March said. “There was probably more on the first album, where I was writing about the evangelical people who can support a military effort at the same time, the hypocrisy of that.”
His new album, Levee Road, has a song called “Libraries” that has been used as the bumper music occasionally on Air America for the Randi Rhodes and Al Franken shows. In the tune, March sarcastically protests the neocon mindset that doesn’t care if the country cuts back essential services as long as obeisance is paid to the almighty altar of cutting taxes.
“They’re rolling all the taxes back / Tearing up the high school tracks / They’re building shopping malls / Where all the kids can play / They’re closing all the libraries / You got TV, don’t complain.”
March is not a lockstep liberal, nor does he try to preach in his songs. He says he never sets out to write something overtly political, but if the narrative speaks along those lines, he goes with his muse. He stays up on issues by reading the newspaper every day and listening to National Public Radio so he can make his own informed choices.
During the SN&R interview, March shared his thoughts on the early Democratic presidential hopefuls. “Dennis Kucinich has a platform that is bulletproof, but I think that [Barack] Obama, due to his charisma and speaking ability—I like what he has to say about the war, education and health care—he’s my pick if I had to vote right now. And Hillary Clinton doesn’t have a chance! You can print that!” March said with a laugh.
As for his own aspirations, March—along with bandmates Tyler Ragle (bass), Steve Randall (guitar) and Kevin Priest (drums)—hopes to start playing out of town more to build an audience beyond Sacramento. And, of course, he’ll stay abreast of politics, knowing that after the presidential election there’s going to be a race for governor in 2010.
“I would vote for [Superintendent of Public Instruction] Jack O’Connell,” March said. “I know a lot of teachers and he seems well liked. I actually played at a Phil Angelides rally [during the last election]. Talk about your exercises in futility!” he joked.
More than likely, finding a wider audience for his music will be less frustrating for March.
Richard March cover story - 07.06
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This Damn House- Featuring this month’s Handy Help Mate Richard March & starring as Tool Grrl: Melan...This Damn House- Featuring this month’s Handy Help Mate Richard March & starring as Tool Grrl: Melanie Bown
Seems like ages since I’ve done an installment of This Damn House. It certainly hasn’t been because of a lack of things to repair. It has, however, been because I haven’t repaired any of them. That is until just recently. Things have been falling apart all around me. My last major repair job was done with Nevada Backwards a couple of years ago when we rebuild my backdoor stairs. We did a pretty good job, but I never got around to sealing or painting the lumber, and now it’s starting to look a little scary. I probably will have to rebuild those stairs, but I figure not for another couple of years.
When it comes to home repair any good handyman will tell you it’s good to take on the task with an even better handyman. In fact, with luck, you can just sit back and pretend to marvel at your “helper’s” technique… “Oh… so that’s how you shingle a whole roof.… I see…..” This Damn House strives for that perfect symbiotic relationship… I need something done… here is someone who can do it. However more times than not, the actual This Damn House dynamic is closer to: I need something done… My God, What have you done?
Like I said, things have been breaking like crazy lately, and I’ve had to fix ‘em. Why me? Why not some musicians vying for an A&K cover? Well, normally I wouldn’t think twice about exploiting the local talent for tasks as menial as changing a doorknob, however I only do it for the story… and with each of my recently broken items, they were stories I’d already done. Yes, the backyard fence that Shortie helped me repair had all but collapsed. It’s not like I want to write about that again. My hot water shower knob that was first broken and then “repaired” by Welt broke yet again and had been in need of replacement for years, but seriously who wants to relive that saga? The doorknob that Call Me Ishmael helped me replace a couple of years ago is acting up, but that tale’s been told.
Now one might question the point of even doing This Damn House. Why make bands come to my house and work for no pay on projects that will ultimately fail? What? Are you kidding? If you don’t see the big life lesson here, I’m not gonna spell it out. Let’s just say it’s a great way to kill an afternoon, and the potential to possibly kill ourselves certainly spices up the story a tad.
For this installment of This Damn House, I had decided to take on the gate on the fence that surrounds our front yard. The bottom hinge is broken. The gate drags on the concrete when you try to open or close it. Actually the whole thing is about ready to fall off completely. However, I should point out that I don’t really need to go through the gate to get to my front door. Not like my downstairs neighbor, Eric (who also happens to be in the band Saucer.) He has to go through the gate several times a day. When he comes… SKRONK scrapes the gate… when he goes… SKRONK again. When his mail is delivered SKRONK…. SKRONK… and so on.
Fixing that gate was at the top of my list. I had even called on the assistance of Sactown country crooner Richard March and set a gate repair in motion. He was on his way to my house. I’d also called my trusty side-kick, Tool Grrl, who was all too eager to participate. But while I sat there waiting for them in my un-air-conditioned living room—which had to be nearly 90 degrees and it wasn’t even noon yet—I realized that Saucer-boy was gonna have to live with his SKRONKY ate until his band does a This Damn House themselves. Ya see, in the world of Home Improvement, actually improving the home is a plus. And seriously… when I it comes to no-more-SKRONK vs. no-longer-feeling-like-a-sweaty-foot-all-day… Well, I’d change my name to SKRONK if I thought it’d cool my house down. Ah, but cooling my house actually required nothing more than the arrival of Richard and Tool Grrl, both of whom I’m sure would be very happy to do something as easy as install an air conditioner rather than rebuild a gate. And anyway, what a pay-off. At the end of our task we’d either get to walk quietly through a gate, OR sit in my pleasantly cooled living room. You tell me which has the better AHHHH factor.
Richard arrived first and was quite pleased with the new task. In fact he immediately started in on the proper BTUs for different sized rooms.
“You’re gonna want about 5000 BTUs for 150-250 square feet,” he says.
Huh? How does he know that just off the top of his head… and what the hell is a BTU?
Just who is this Richard March?
In the relative scheme of things, Richard March is a newcomer to the Sacramento area. He moved here a few years ago from San Francisco and quickly gained attention as a country music artist with a knack for great melodies and keen, insightful songwriting. Although many of his songs’ topics are rooted in that country music slice-of-life vein, Richard is also a pretty outspoken guy when it comes to social issues and politics, and that stuff’ll come out in his songs too. All of these attributes have led Richard to becoming very central in a growing Sacramento country music scene. So central, in fact, that he has taken to hosting a couple of different events in Sacramento celebrating the country and Americana bands in the region. Nashville Nights was a country themed showcase he was presenting over at The Blue Lamp for a while, but now he’s broadened his scope (and the size of the room) with a new night he oversees, The Americana Ramble, every Wednesday at the new Marilyn’s. Drop in on the Americana Ramble and you might hear mandolins and banjos or maybe some good roots rock-n-roll. And you’re definitely going to hear Richard and his superb band. On guitar is one of Sacramento’s finest guitarists, Steve Randall. He’s been one of my faves for years, from his days with Natalie Cortez and The Ultraviolets to his current stint in GB & the Carousers, where even guitar virtuoso GB (formerly of Magnolia Thunderfinger) has to concede with a grin to Steve’s seemingly effortless honky-tonk picking. On drums with Richard is Kevin Priest, who aside from being a great drummer, also shares many of Richard’s political views and he loves it when the band gets to play a Phil Angelides’ function or at events like the Sacramento Valley AIDS Walk. On bass is Tyler Ragle, without whom, Richard may not have even stayed in Sacramento.
“Tyler is just the heart and soul of my Sacramento musical experience,” says Richard. “He brings raw joy to every performance. No matter where we are, he is always having a great time on stage.”
These days Richard has been renting a room in West Sacramento from a friend of his. It’s on a sizable lot and the garage works perfectly as a practice space for the band. Perfectly except that it’s as hot as Hades in there and as such Richard has been out pricing air conditioners to make his practices a little cooler.
I guess I couldn’t have asked for a better guy to have in my camp to help air condition my house. I kinda figured Richard to be This Damn House material all along. (Although, I'm not sure he even knows what BTUs are.) H wanted to do a Chewing the Fat column with me. That the one where I take musicians out for meaty meals and we talk about how much we love meat. Richard had some plan that he was going to get me to eat lamb or liver or some other questionable meat… only I’m not sure there are questionable meats. So where’s the story in that? Anyway, Richard is a no-nonsense able-bodied kinda fellow, and he looks like he’d be pretty proficient with any tools that might come his way. Although, I do notice he has a band-aid wrapped around his finger.
“What happened to your finger?” I ask him.
“I sliced it open,” he says nonchalantly.
Ulp… somehow, seeing injuries never affects me, but hearing about them always makes me queasy. Sliced it open?
“How’d you do that?” I ask, fearing the answer. A table saw? A jagged strip of sheet metal? An unseen shard of broken glass submerged in cold clear water that slices clean and undetected while a whispery ribbon of red slowly streaks from the gash like a…
“I was cutting a pizza and I caught my finger with the pizza slicer,” he explains.
A pizza slicer? This is the guy who’s helping me install a heavy appliance? Man… when’s Tool Grrl getting here?
“Kevin is a vegan,” says Richard explaining his injury further, “so I was making a vegan pizza for the band. And then I cut myself trying to slice through it. I bled like crazy, I thought I was going to have to get stitches.”
“So,” I say, “if Kevin is a vegan, did he still eat the pizza even though you may have bled all over it?”
“Yeh,” says Richard considering the paradox, “He didn’t seem to have a problem with it.”
Tool Grrl arrives carrying a power saw still in its original box. She’s actually brought the saw so she could return it to The Home Depot, but believe me, even when she gets the new saw, I guarantee this is exactly how she will store and transport it… in its original box. Tool Grrl is a very precise and orderly person. Almost to the point of obsessive. Don’t even get me started on her clean hands compulsion.
Now Tool Grrl is actually kind of tiny, and it makes the saw she’s carrying look comically huge, so I ask her to sit on the saw box so I can take a picture of her from behind. “Should I show my butt crack?” she asks laughing.
Oh Tool Grrl, you are the greatest of all Tool Grrls ever.
After taking 10 or 20 pictures of Tool Grrl and her…. Saw… it was time for us to embark on our quest for the best AC we could find.
Just what makes an air conditioner the best? Well, first and foremost for me, is the energy efficiency. I actually have an air conditioner in my living room. The Beast. Seriously, it looks like it weights about 300 pounds and it’s been there so long that I suspect it may even be coal-powered. We haven’t run it in years because it sounds like a 50 year old Buick and is probably less fuel-efficient than one. I’ve never done the math, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn it was cheaper for me to get air conditioning sleeping in my car with the engine running. New air conditioners are so much smaller, and quieter, and above all, more energy efficient… In fact, the only reason I hadn’t bought one sooner was because I couldn’t get the Beast out of my window on my own.
Ah but today I have help.
Ultimately I want to go Costco. Costco is my anti Wal-Mart. What a place. They take great care of their employees AND they have unbeatable prices. Plus, I had been out there just a few days before and they had quite an array of air conditioners, all fantastically priced. Tool Grrl, however had brought her saw because she thought we were going to the Home Depot and she needed to exchange it. Why? Well, first because they had forgotten to take the security tag off of it and also because of the carrying case had a slight dent. Like I said, Tool Grrl can be pretty particular.
“Do you have your receipt?” I asked her.
“No, but I bought it there,” she says simply. Considering the security tag is still on it, without a receipt they may think she’s trying to pull a fast one. This whole situation has the potential to get ridiculously out of hand. God knows what kind of bad turn this could take for Tool Grrl.
“Let’s go and see what happens!” I exclaim, and we’re off to Home Depot.
Our short drive there gives us some time to learn a little more about Richard march... The Musician… The Handyman.
Richard wasn’t always a country singer. In fact country is just another music that he happens to enjoy. His musical tastes are much broader, for better or for worse, than one might imagine.
“I had a high school band,” he laughs, “called The Intruders. We did classic rock, Iron Maiden, Sabbath, Stones... We did the one song, what was it?” Richard then begins singing Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” in a high falsetto, “You take my life and I take yours too…” I can safely say I could have never pictured Richard March ever singing an Iron Maiden song, and now having seen it, I’m not sure I believe it.
After The Intruders Richard was in a band called walkingthbigdog which he described as a kind of “power pop Billy Joel.” Yikes!
“About ’94,” says Richard, “I was studying voice and I really do love musical theater. I had just graduated college with a BA in music.”
“So you were actually in musical productions?” I ask him.
“Oh yeh,” he says excited, “I was in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I was in the chorus of HMS Pinafore, Hello Dolly, Oklahoma…”
“Wow,” I’m a huge fan of musical theater myself, and again, I just never pictured Richard in that environment. “Were you doing dance sequences and everything?”
“Oh, everything. The splits,” he says, but shakes his head, “I can’t do that anymore.”
Richard tells me that in all the years he’s lived in Sacramento he’s particularly excited this year because he’s just bought season tickets to the Music Circus.
“Oh, I love the Music Circus,” I tell him. “But I couldn’t afford it this year. I have to buy tickets for all three of us [myself, my wife and son] and it gets pricey.”
“I just bought tickets for one,” says Richard. “It put me right in the front row.”
“No way!” I gush. “That’s so cool!”
Meanwhile, Tool Grrl is sitting silently in the back seat probably wondering about how much of this task she’s going to be doing on her own.
When we arrive at The Home Depot, Tool Grrl goes to exchange her saw while Richard and I check out air conditioners. Or what’s left of them. This is the Tuesday following the first heat wave weekend of the season. One of the workers at Home Depot describers the depletion of air conditioners over the last few days almost as dramatically as Al Gore narrating a slide show of recent glaciers…
“There were air conditioners from here to there,” he says extending his hand from where we’re standing out towards the end of an aisle over 100 feet long,” and they were stacked up, “he continues while raising his hand towards the high warehouse ceiling of The Home Depot, “and now this is what’s left.” We’re standing in front of a few floor models. It’s almost too much to comprehend. What can be done to reverse this horrible situation? Can our world ever be the same?
“We’ll be getting in more this week,” he says. “This always happens after the first big heat wave.”
Whew! Well thank god for that. Al Gore’s glaciers, however, and life on this planet as we know it, are pretty much screwed, but that’s another story. Of course this story is pretty much screwed too, if we don’t find better AC deals. Let’s go to Costco! Richard suggests Fry’s. We are pretty close to it, so I guess we could jump over and take a look. Anyway, more drive time is more getting to know Richard time… or at least that’s how I’m writing it.
Tool Grrl has a new saw. Identical to her old saw, but no bothersome dent on the case. I’m sure her saw will get a lot of use. Not from our project today. God no. But Tool Grrl bought her own house last year and she’s been working on a lot of home improvement projects herself. Since Richard is renting a room, he hasn’t really done a lot of home repair lately at all, but surely throughout the years, he must’ve done some.
“These days, I think removing mistletoe from trees is my main chore,” he says. “But you wanna talk construction stories? I grew up with my father, building on a house. I spent my adolescent years putting up sheetrock. And my dad has a real keen eye for detail, so one summer we were putting it up and we’re cutting seams that are about an eighth of an inch…”
[For my rockin’ readers who don’t happen to be sheetrock’ readers, a one-eighth of an inch seam is incredibly precise.]
“Id bust a corner on the sheetrock, and my dad would be ‘GODAMMIT’” laughs Richard. “So then the next summer, we needed to do the ceiling, so we had these guys come in and what took us six months to do, they did in about three days. They were cutting three-quarter inch seams [which is very sloppy, non-sheet rocking readers] and filling them in with plaster and taping. And I’m going, ‘Are you kidding me? This is how we coulda done it’”
Dads come up with the best tasks. One such task involved Richard removing nails from boards.
“He was giving me a penny a nail,” laughs Richard. “You’d make maybe three dollars for an afternoon of work. But there was always something. We tore up decks. Broke up concrete with a sledge hammer. That was a fun job. When you’re 14, there is no better job than to tear up something.”
Fry’s has a better selection of ACs than Home Depot and Richard certainly has a lot of questions for the floor person helping us, but I still want to go by Costco before I buy. So after a few minutes we leave Fry’s and head off to Costco, but not before Tool Grrl found and bought herself an Ipod. So for those of you keeping score… we still don’t’ haven an air conditioner, but Tool Grrl has a new saw and a new Ipod.
When we get to Costco, thy too appear to have been cleaned out by the recent heat wave. They don’t have nearly the selection they’d had a few days earlier. However, what they do have is a $159 AC, with an EER (that’s energy efficiency rating as I’ve learned) that is higher than any we’ve seen today. Also it has the right about of BTUs for the size of my room… Although I still don’t know what BTUs are, I’ve taken to imagining them as ice cubes. This AC will only put 5000 ice cubes in your living room, which just is not enough to cool a room of that size… now this baby, it’ll put 12000 ice cubes in your living room… That’s enough not only to cool the room, but there’s even a little left over to ice some lemonade or tea…
Mmmm…. BTU’d Tea….
And if there was any question about this AC, it even comes with a $50 manufacturer’s rebate. Woooo!
We didn’t even spend five minutes in Costco. We bought that AC and split. Let’s go install an air conditioner!
While we were gone the temperature in my house had risen from toasty to broily… I know this part of the day. Blistery and scorchy aren’t far behind. We need to get movin’.
First things first. We must remove The Beast. Now, the window The Beast sits in is about 18 feet off the ground outside. It appears too big to have been put through the window from the inside of the house and yet I can’t imagine how anyone could have put it up there from the outside. How in the world do we remove this thing?
“Um, I’m pretty sure the air conditioner is just inside a shell,” says Tool Grrl. “That part you can bring in through the window and then the shell can be removed.”
Wow I don’t think I would ever have figured that out. I would have been outside on a wooden ladder while Richard pushed 300 pounds of certain death on top of me.
Sure enough, as soon as we removed the front plate off of the Beast we were able to slide the air conditioner in through my window, leaving a metal frame secured to the sill. Now even though this thing is in two parts, the part we hauled through the window was by no means manageable. Richard and I were huffing and puffing while trying to place the still quite heavy innards of The Beast on the floor. There is no way I could have moved that thing by myself.
Moments later we have detached the frame from the house and sent it smashing into the yard below. The Beast is dead! Time for beer.
I go grab one of my Grandma’s Hamm’s. I’m not going to explain my Grandma’s Hamm’s again. But aside from being my Grandma’s beer, it was also, of course, my Grandpa’s beer and he drank it whenever he worked in his backyard workshop… which was always. And even though I’ve been drinking my Grandma’s beer for a couple of years now, this is the first time I’ve drank it and had such a vivid flashback of my Grandpa and the smell of Hamm’s on his breath… The Hamm’s that I could now taste on mine. Wow. Very intense.
My Hamm’s triggers a memory for Richard as well.
“I went on a camping trip with my scout aster and his wife and son who was a friend of mine,” says Richard. “And the dad says, ‘You guys want a beer?’ and his wife goes, ‘Dick!’ and he says, ‘Well it’s hot!’ and we had a Hamm’s, and things were just a little funnier for about a half hour.”
I open up the box to my new energy efficient, 12000 ice cubes, smaller, lighter, cleaner AC. Mmmmm… it even smells good in the box. I start spreading parts around much to Tool Grrl’s frustration. I’m grabbing doohickeys and what-nots and saying, “What do you think these do?”
“That’s the Window Sash,” says too Grrl reading the instructions. “First you need to get scissors and cut the adhesive foam strip to apply to the window sill.”
“Scissors? Who needs scissors?” I say laughing as I tear the foam to fit the sill. Obviously that was the Hamm’s talking.
The instructions seem to be very clear and concise and yet Richard and I are still a little thrown by them.
Remove air conditioner from box and place on a flat surface. Remove the top rail from the bottom of the packaging as shown.
Ok, that seems pretty straight ahead. So where’s this top rail? We flip through all of our parts bags. Nothing. We look at the diagram. Nothing looks like the top rail.
Tool Grrl re-reads the instructions. “Remove air conditioner from box and place on flat surface. Remove top rail from bottom of packaging as shown.”
Oh… Remove air conditioner from box… And place on flat surface… So we should do that I guess.
“The top rail is going to be under the air conditioner,” says Tool Grrl.
Sure enough, there it is.
“Top rail!” declares Richard with a bit of Eureka in his tone.
Tool Grrl shakes her head.
“Screw the top rail to the top of the air conditioner,” reads Tool Grrl. It becomes apparent we’re going to need a Philip’s screwdriver for this task. I go looking for one while Tool Grrl says “I can finger tighten these…”
“Is that technical terminology?” asks Richard.
“It’s how Tool Grrl talks dirty,” I laugh.
“Oh wait,” says Tool Grrl, “I have my tool kit down in my car.
Of course she does. She runs out to grab her tools and while she’s out I actually manage to find a Phillips screwdriver and I cinch all the screws as quickly as I can before she returns. I tell her I finger tightened them all, but she doesn’t buy it. Tool Grrl knows finger tightening, and this, she attests, is no finger tightening.
For the most part this is a very simple task, but somehow I keep messing it up. I always catch my mistake, but never before Tool Grrl’s exasperated sigh. Sure, I put the sash in backwards, but then I saw that and switched it. After that, I tried applying foam insulation in the wrong place, but she caught that mistake before I did.
I’m starting to feel like Goofus to her Gallant. Gallant reads the instructions and is soon cooling his house during non-peak hours. Goofus doesn’t and somehow manages to turn his air conditioner into a WMD that blows a crater into the ground that was once midtown Sacramento. Whoopsey!
“Ok,” I say to Tool Grrl. “I know I’m not referring to the instructions as much as I should, but c’mon, what’s the worst that could happen?”
“It could fall out of your window,” she says…
Ok, well sure, I guess that would be the worst.
But with Tool Grrl’s guidance, Richard and I manage to get the new air conditioner in place rather quickly. Now to plug it in… to this… outlet… that looks like something you plug your washing machine into… in Scandinavia. What then? I hadn’t noticed when we unplugged The Beast that it was plugged into a 220v outlet. There are no other outlets on this wall. Even Tool Grrl missed this one.
All I could do was run an extension from one outlet over to the AC. Tool Grrl wasn’t sure we should hook the AC up to an extension but we couldn’t find anything in the instructions that said we couldn’t.
We turned it on and instant coolness blew out at us. Ahhhhhhhh….
With the task accomplished, Tool Grrl had to leave. Man, there is no way we could have done this without her. Well, not properly… or even safely. And whose butt crack would I have taken a picture of? Richard’s? I think we can all see and appreciate the invaluable service Tool Grrl provided today.
Richard and I saw her off, and then decided to sit on my front steps while the house cooled.
It’s been good to get to spend some time with Richard. He’s a good guy. I’ve liked him since I met him and I’ve been a fan of his music from the moment I heard him play. Literally, I had booked him on the Friday Night Concerts three years ago without ever having heard him. I went entirely off the recommendation of Kevin Seconds who assured me I would dig it. So Richard gets on stage for sound check and by the second song, I’m on the phone to Marty DeAnda (Jackie Green’s manager) telling him, ‘Hey man, you gotta come out and see this guy.” Marty became an instant fan too. I had him play the Sacramento Valley AIDS Walk a couple of years ago and everybody liked him so much the organizers had me bring him back the next year. That had never happened in the ten years I’d been booking the AIDS Walk. This year he is headlining his own night at the Friday Night Concerts for the first time. He’ll also be releasing a four-song teaser that day to promote the August release for his next full length CD.
He plays me an unfinished track from the album. It’s of his song “Libraries.” In it he sings “They’re closing all the libraries. You’ve got TV, don’t complain.” It’s a great song and while we’re listening Richard is saying things like, “We’re gonna add a little banjo here…”
This song would definitely qualify as one of Richard’s protest songs. Yes, Richard maybe outspoken, but he’s also very thoughtful…. And polite. ‘Yes maams’ and ‘yes sirs’ abound in Richard speak and Richard’s smart enough to know there’s time and a place for political debate or confrontation.
“I don’t play ‘Libraries’ or ‘God and Country’ [another of his protest songs] at every show,” he says. “Some audiences you can tell aren’t gonna be happy to hear them. I think when people are there to see me, I don’t want to make the stage a bully pulpit unless I know it’s what they came for. If I’m Bruce Springsteen and I’m playing the Shoreline, I may pepper my show a little politically, or let my political songs speak for themselves, but if I’m playing the Local 980, then I’m gonna speak about issues the whole time I’m there.”
It’s this kind of sensible approach that has allowed Richard to play everything from county fairs and gigs at his church to the aforementioned political functions.
We walk back into my house to a welcoming cool. Granted this wasn’t a hard job, but it was a job well done.
“So of all those summers you spent sheet rocking and pulling nails, did any of that translate into your music?” That may be one of the cheesiest questions I’ve ever asked.
“Well,” says Richard, considering it seriously, “my dad was always telling me not to do a half-assed job, so I think that is something I bring into my music… or the nights that I host at Marilyn’s. What I put into that represents me.”
That seems like a fine way to end the story. I thank Richard for his help and I see him to the door, which I close very quickly behind him to keep my cool air from escaping. After a few minutes in my office, I walk back into the cool living room and relax on the couch.
It’s then that I realize what a perfect This Damn House this has been. No, really. By the very standards… the very precedents… set in previous This Damn Houses, this one went completely by the book. I need help with some home improvement task. Musician comes and helps. Musician leaves. I still need help.
Sure my house is cooling wonderfully, and for a while everyone in my family will be happy with my accomplishment, but eventually, and I suspect it is going to be really soon, my wife is going to ask me why The Beast is still sitting in the middle of the living room floor.
Perfect. Just perfect.
Trust Your Ears - 06.29.06
[+ Show ]
"Dame Satan followed Richard March and band, which open the Ramble every week and close it after one..."Dame Satan followed Richard March and band, which open the Ramble every week and close it after one or two guest acts play. March, a Waylon-like presence on acoustic guitar, is backed by Steve Randall, one of this town’s finer guitar players, along with bassist Tyler Ragle and drummer Kevin Priest. The energy level changed from locomotion to balloon power after Dame Satan took the stage."
Richard March: Urban Cowboy - 03.06
[+ Show ]
Urban cowboy: What do you get when you mix a funky country twang with a thumpin' beat, then weave a ...Urban cowboy: What do you get when you mix a funky country twang with a thumpin' beat, then weave a dreamy mandolin in and out of Dylan-esque storytelling? You get singer/songwriter Richard March, who hit the Sacramento music scene with his band nearly four years ago after roaming the San Francisco clubs and a short stint in Nashville.
Americana Idol: Check out "The Americana Ramble" music series hosted by March and his band every Wednesday night at Marilyn's on K featuring bluegrass, folk and blues.
On the road again: For now March's boots are parked right here in the River City. "As long as [you] tour, it doesn't matter where you live as long as you get yourself on the road."
His boots weren't made just for walking: "I took ballroom in college," admits March, who-- when he's not belting out tunes onstage at local venues such as Luna's Cafe, Fox & Goose and the Blue Lamp-- can be found hoofing it up on the dance floor at midtown clubs. "I love dancing; it influences the style of music that I do. In Austin, the floor would be full of people doing the two-step. There's not as much of that happening here. They all do the California Hippy Shake!"
Sets are original songs with an occasional interpretation of a favorite, and can range from 20 minutes to 90 for up to four hours of music.
Originals in the mix include-
God & Country, Cindy, Golden Gate, Strikeout
Simple Song, Katie, Brother, On a Night, Comfort Zone, Heather, Wintertime, I Got Yer #, Helicopter, San Francisco, Step By Step, Rome, All I Ever Wanted, Long Gone, Christina, Nebraska, Better Believe, Justin, These Dreams, Goodbye, Levee Road, Libraries, Just Another Highway, High on a Mountain, Shine, Eastern Girl, Second Hand Store, People You Meet, Damon and Jill, Sweet Surrender, Twinkling Bird, Same Streets, Leaving, Come A Long Way, Slow Down, Solid Ground, Let the Winter Come, When You Come Around (cowrite), Forever Down the Road (cowrite), Starin’ Eyes, Jackie and Kristine, Michael, Stones Behind (cowrite), Don’t Know the Half, Renee
Favorites to cover include:
Excuse Me (Buck Owens)
Kicking Each Other’s (Buck Owens)
Heartaches By the Number (Buck Owens)
Love’s Gonna Live Here (Buck Owens)
Streets of Bakersfield (Buck Owens)
Grandpa (John Prine)
Unwed Fathers (John Prine)
Billy the Bum (John Prine)
Johnny 99 (Bruce Springsteen)
All That Heaven (Bruce Springsteen)
Sunshine (Johnathan Edwards)
Angelina (Johnathan Edwards)
Come On (Chuck Berry)
Thirty Days (Chuck Berry)
Senor (Bob Dylan)
Icy Blue Heart (John Hiatt)
Buffalo River Home (John Hiatt)
Duncan (Paul Simon)
Too Cool to Be Forgotten (Lucinda Williams)
King’s Highway (Tom Petty)
Do Re Mi (Woody Guthrie)
Kern River (Merle Haggard)
Workingman’s Blues (Merle Haggard)
Jerusalem (Steve Earle)
Peaceful Easy Feeling (The Eagles)
When Will I Be Loved (Everly Brothers)
Kind Woman (Buffalo Springfield)
My Heroes Have Always (Willie Nelson)
And it Stoned Me (Van Morrison)
What Goes On (The Beatles)
I’ve Just Seen a Face (The Beatles)
Romeo’s Tune (Steve Forbert)
Hallelujah (Ryan Adams)
Last Time (Rolling Stones)
There are no upcoming dates at this time.