Richard Leschen

Richard Leschen


Leschen’s use of language, metaphors and imagery is very much in the mould of Dylan, but he is no imitator and is quite original in his stringing of words together creating wonderful images in the mind of the listener. His guitar playing is impeccable. - Rude Sunde, Maritime Crew


It's been hard times and it's been good times for Richard Leschen. Born in the southern United States and an immigrant to New Zealand, he has lived on the struggling side of the economic fence, has faced bizarre social and environmental situations, has seen much of the world's poorest and richest countries, and travelled to remote rainforests and isolated subantarctic islands. No wonder there is depth and imagery in Leschen's lyrics. He blames Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, Bob Dylan, Peter Rowan, and a whole swath of American folk songsters for his descriptive style of writing.

Leschen composes in various styles combining the rich Americana heritage with contemporary themes and world music. His early lyrical influence was John Denver, but as a teenager he turned to writers such as Russel Smith (Amazing Rhythm Aces), Willie Nelson, and David Allan Coe. Meanwhile he would listen to bluegrass radio, that in his neck of the woods often preceded Ken Nordine's Word Jazz. At about the same time, Leschen was introduced to the Grateful Dead (and main lyricist Robert Hunter) by his cousin Joe and the Dead and their approach to music formed the core to his musical style. Tim O'Brien's Red on Blonde album introduced him to Bob Dylan, and this is where his song writing really began.

Leschen plays guitar, mandolin and bouzouki and his style of guitar-picking involves syncopated rhythms supported by bass and melody lines, harkening to bluegrass and Carter Family influences. No one, really, plays guitar like Leschen and his James McMurtry-like voice suites the mode and tenor of his compositions. The lyrical content combined with improvisation is reminescent of the Grateful Dead, although performed with one instrument, the acoustic guitar. Japanese call it country music.

His first album release Heavy Waters features an ensemble of local New Zealand musicians and the second album, Black Horses, is solo acoustic guitar and mouth. Both releases are a mix of alt-country, rock, folk, Tex-Mex, and bluegrass, some tracks featuring extended jams.


Black Horses

Written By: Richard Leschen

Black Horses © R. Leschen

*I saw an angel held by a blazing light (2x),
Above the earth away on heavenly flight.

Did you see black horses filing into town (2x),
Pullin’ white wagons with coffins in every one.

Did you see the tears fall from the mothers who prayed in the crowd (2x),
Can you imagine your child among the soldiers that were lost or found.

Do you think it’ll end or continue to flourish or fail (2x),
For me it’s all over for you pray that peace will prevail.*

I saw an angel held by a blazing light (2x),
Above the earth away on heavenly flight.

Above the earth I believe we’re taking flight.
Above the earth I believe, above the earth I believe,
Above the earth I believe, we’re taking flight (3x).

The Double Cross

Written By: Richard Leschen

Twice upon western skies I turned to see the sun,
Split between the golden land and the rumble of the drum.

My eyes they rest on empty souls, who see only at night,
They speak to me in several tongues and tell me to take flight.

*I’m tired of being stretched and tied, I forgot who wrote the plot,
The cedar gates are scorched and burned, Are you girls goin’ south?

Rattle snakes and petticoats wash that wagon down,
Remove all those rusty spots and tear that fucker down.

I’ll meet you at the double cross where the cattle rest their hooves,
You’ll see me ‘neath the green-lit light mixing magic with whiskey wolves.*

Pandoras forces are tearing out of their broke down palisades,
Pushed back to the edge of no where men should stake their claim.
I’m leavin the familiar for some outback Spanish place,
Where the ages are forgotten and the old retain their face.

Immerse me in the desert dust, cover up my soul,
I don’t know who won or lost, don’t care who wears my clothes.

Bleed some tears for the indolent and rise for men a peace,
I’m easing my old pony now, I’m saddle-packed and free.*

Wild Roses and Satin

Written By: Richard Leschen

Wild Roses and Satin © R. Leschen

Wild roses and satin, coalesce in a dream, wild roses and satin release me from pain,
From the great White River up to Walnut Ridge, wild roses and satin, I’m lost in a dream.

Four strokes and a whistle, I merge with the sound, from the Mainstreet Mission, where the folks gather round,
The texture’s ideal, for reachin’ the sky, doors open for business, to all passers-by.

The empty street market where the late Andrew Jackson still stands,
Advancin’ a nation, honorin’ the strugglin’ man.

The old caretaker, with the tears on his face, he looks through the window, to a forgotten place,
The grey-stained gazebo is all that remains, of roses and satin, and a love in the rain.

Front Street is wasted, its store fronts have faded and died,
Looking for tender, the vendors surrender and sigh.

The mourning dove whispers, then begins his refrain, the Eight AM train, forgets us again,
Broadside and broken, half-tried and broke down, wild roses and satin, take a long look around.

Wild roses and satin it’s a long long way down.

Man with no Country

Written By: Richard Leschen

The Man With No Country© R. Leschen

I kneeled down beside your cold skin of stone, my eyes had wandered to our old country home,
I see radio lights and rain-colored dreams, the man with no country is down on his knees.

I was walking on clouds with the greatest of ease, my shoulders in chains and my thoughts on a leash,
The neighbours don’t know they don’t bother to ask, if the man with no country has a dream or a past.

I once had my freedom and once had my strength, held my head way up high to see over the fence,
Along the 5th shore through the rubble and sand, walks a man with no country with his pain in his hands.

I started to breath at the coming of spring, like harpsichord strings you can hear every key,
Caregiver please hold me and never let go, this man with no country is weary and old.

In the black of my mind I see heavens delights, the twin bells are ringing in the quartz-colored night,
I remember my love and what you gave me, the man with no country is beginning to see.

Big Chief and Little Jones

Written By: Richard Leschen

Big Chief and Little Jones (copyright R. Leschen)

Beyond the mist-bound mountain tops to the sun-baked cattle creeks,
We bounded for glory like priests in faded jeans,
We searched for satisfaction and for something in between,
Sheets of gold coast memories and incoherent dreams.

Up south near Los Alamos the Big Chief cleared his eyes,
He sought through the heavens and he summoned from the skies,
A spell from ancient fathers an ice-age remedy,
Protect us from thy enemy who were forming in the east.

Thanks for the leg but we need a helping hand,
We called on all our spirits at least that was a plan,
Our slingshots and bowstrings are no match for guns and fire,
Any future plans depend on who we con or hire.

Jones and I with sentiment both said we’d contribute,
We’ll hitch the horses to the shed just tell us the best route.
We’ll hide among the rocks and stones and the clustered cactus trees,
The first sign of the henchmen we’ll come running like the breeze.

The All Kings Court and Eagle Lords blew into town,
Big Chief Little Jones and me were huddled in the crowd,
At 9:00 we fired our lot the streets were turned to blood,
‘Neath the shadow of the barber shop was Big Chief wiped out cold.

Jones was hit and I merely missed a rocket to my side,
The gunners had outnumbered us two-fold maybe five,
We aimed out passed Old Peters shop to a panoramic scene,
Once again our knees got skinned get the horses and run free.

At times we laugh but mostly cry when we contemplate and watch,
That some men act like puppets and they seem so out of touch,
I care less for careless actions and devils in disguise,
So we withdrew our pistols and made for separate skies.

We kept close to the desert road in the night our bodies froze,
Slipped into a time machine our minds linked by dreams.
He kissed the dust the old Chief lost his spirit’s wild and free,
His box of blackened ashes consigned to history.

White White West

Written By: Richard Leschen

White, White, West © R. Leschen

Out from the west on white horses they rode; High in the saddle on an internet road,
Carrying a message from a higher command; With orders to shoot anyone they can.

The message received with a tear in his eye; The captain stood ready and he sang and he cried,
Out with the whips and the guns held high, Lets capture the thief who knows he must die.

*He looks in the mirror and there’s sparks in the room; The walls are melting from impending doom,
He turns to his friend with eyes a glow; Chris, its time we must go.

The media blurts the words of the day; Those with bottle-rockets must do as we say,
Drink gin fizz and accept what it is, Take what we’ve got, don’t blow it away.

Outside the windows of the tenement square; The children are playing and there’s guns everywhere,
And down at his desk his best plans they rest; The stock is ticking you must do your best.

*Relax my friend I smell death this time; You did your part I did mine,
Gallant against the darker state; Maybe you’re born too late.

The cavalry came in a nick of time; We must save the artist from drawing the lines,
The captain and the prince faced eye to eye; It was obvious to all whose turn was to die.

The battle was bloody and oh the stench; Corporate corpses saluted the trench,
The body of the outlaw laid into the ground, Wrapped in plastic in a tie-dyed shroud.

*Oh my friends its death this time; Everybody goes despite their crime,
The gallant against the darker state; Maybe we’re born too late.

And back to the west the white army road; With dirt on their faces and the money they stole,
And up on the plains the white crosses frame; The graves of the cowboys who died in vain.


His first album release, Heavy Waters, was written during 2004-2005 and highlights a range of writing and musical styles (alt-country, rock, folk, Tex-Mex, and bluegrass) and includes solo work and full-band tracks. The second album, Black Horses was just released and features Leschen stripped to acoustic guitar and voice: more mature than the debut disc, Black Horses is a compendium of lyrical worlds layered onto fine solo guitar work.

Set List

Most sets are an average of 50 minutes, and may range from 5-7 songs depending on length of improvisation, whether it is a full-length concert with 2 sets, or rules of the venue. Generally covers are sparse, but may include some by favorite songwriters (e.g., R. Hunter & J. Garcia, B. Dylan, P. Rowan) or bluegrass standards. Recent sets are below:

Solo (45 Minutes):
The Double Cross
(Outlasting) the Golden Age
Bone Seeds
Bed Monkey

Solo (45 Minutes):
St Joseph's Curse
The Double Cross
Man with No Country
New Sun Rising
(Outlasting) The Golden Age
Big Chief and Little Jones

Band (2 sets at 60 minutes each):
Cold Rain and Snow
Double Cross
The Circle
Bone Seeds
Fathers Every Part
Dusty Roads and Endless Highways
Catfish John (McDill, Reynolds)
Big Chief & Little Jones
White Dove (Carter Stanley)
Pig in a Pen (Bill Monroe)
Papa Lufa and His Havana Band
The Old Shaker
Captain & Sister Sybil
Bobo: My Dog