Richard March
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Richard March


Band Americana Country


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"Dancing Down the Americana Road - 04.20.07"

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." - Jim Carnes, Sacramento Bee

"Trust Your Ears - 05.03.07"

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.

- Jackson Griffith, Sacramento News & Review

"Lyrics for Change - 03.15.07"

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.
- Cary Rodda, Sacramento News & Review

"Miles of Music Review - 05.07"

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.
- Jeff Weiss

"Best of Sacramento - 11.07"

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. - Sacramento Magazine

"Richard March cover story - 07.06"

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 com - Jerry Perry, Alive & Kicking

"Richard March: Urban Cowboy - 03.06"

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!" - Laura Martin, Sacramento Magazine

"Trust Your Ears - 06.29.06"

"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."
- Jackson Griffith, Sacramento News & Review


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).



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."