This Sunday, Aug. 28 at 6 p.m., the Cinema Bar will play host to Aubrey Richmond, an impressive and emotive musician with a massive variety of influences, who has worked with the likes of Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses) and Shooter Jennings. She spoke with the News about her past present and future, and what we can expect from this show…
When did you start writing and performing, and when did it get serious?
I discovered my love of writing starting with prose, back when I was about 12, then started writing some poetry in high school and college, where I majored in English Literature. There were a few feeble song attempts, but it was challenging because in my brain music and writing seemed to inhabit completely separate spaces (right vs. left) and I struggled to connect them in a way that made sense. I started playing violin at age 5, piano at 7. There were some recitals, and I competed on the old time fiddle contest circuit for about four years, but the real performing began with show choir in high school. I guess you could say I went through many different musical “phases” of my life before they finally started to intersect. I loved the beautiful music we made in orchestra, but it wasn’t the right fit; I loved singing in college choir and performing with the Young Americans, but never felt as dramatic, confident or outgoing as everyone else. In Spring of 2005 I met a couple at a friend’s graduation party and they asked if I would join their original country project. Over the summer I commuted two hours to L.A. every couple weeks or so to play with them. Come November I had moved to L.A., and from there music just took on a life of its own. Playing with live bands fit. That’s when music performance started to feel like me. As in the rest of life, it felt like a game of musical Goldilocks. Just keep trying everything until you find the one that’s “just right.”
Describe your sound…
As far as my sound goes, I’d say my sense of musicality, melody, harmony were influenced by the music I listened to growing up, as well as what I’ve been exposed to since becoming a full-time musician. However my playing style in particular (a blend of my early classical training followed by ear training and fiddle music) has been mostly influenced by the bands and musicians I’ve played with since coming to L.A., and is more informed by other instruments than my own. My style evolved from listening to all the other players in the room. I never liked being the soloist that much. Sonically I think in terms of layers, texture, and space. In any situation, I listen for what’s not there, then ask, what could I play there, and should I? I tend to come back to “less as more” as a guiding principle for most areas of life, especially music. I’ve been fortunate to have amazing music mentors over the years, and the main through-line from them has been, whatever you play or don’t play, it needs to “serve the song.” As singer/songwriters, I suppose our influences are essentially the music we like to listen to, the songs and voices that resonate with us. Growing up that was Alison Krauss and Union Station, Ricky Skaggs and Emmylou Harris, as well as classic country like Merle Haggard and Patsy Cline, plus lots of classical and The Beach Boys. My parents brought home the CDs and had control of the radio dial. As an adult those influences stuck with me, but other layers were added as I played with different groups and through that discovered more artists, bands and songwriters I loved, like Bonnie Raitt, Tom Petty, Pink Floyd, Stephen Bruton, to name some highlights.
What are your career highlights so far…
Having the good fortune of playing with Shooter Jennings since 2014 has not only been a major career highlight for me, but led to even more of them, like playing on Duff McKagan’s solo record (GnR original member/bassist), and then going on a national and then international tour with him in 2019 as both his opening and backing band with Shooter. That was just incredible. Then we opened for GnR twice. Performing live with John Elefante of Kansas, Mickey Thomas of Jefferson Starship, Dave Matthews, Tanya Tucker, and some others have also been very memorable experiences. Signing my first record deal with my band Mustangs of the West back in 2018 on Bluélan records is another one; then getting to work with the legendary producer Mark Howard on our first record, as well as the experience of meeting, writing with, and now having recorded songs by some of my favorite songwriters like Randy Sharp. It’s weird how those experiences just pile up in the archive and after awhile just start to feel normal. I have to remind myself of how unique those experiences were at the time, because I think as humans we’re all looking for the next high, the next peak to summit.
Do you have any recorded music available?
Up until recently most of my recording has been for other artists and projects. I’ve played fiddle and sang background vocals on many records, but I’ve also sang lead vocals and done some writing with bands I’ve been in over the years. In 2017 I joined a band called Mustangs of the West, a 5-piece all female country band composed of three original members of an earlier incarnation of the group called the Mustangs, plus the new drummer and myself. We released a beautiful album on Bluelan records in March of 2020 called “Time,” and have another (double) album coming out this fall called Sea of Heartbreak. One of the early projects for me dates back to 2012; a 4-piece all-female Americana string band called Sugar in the Gourd. Not only did we never officially retire, but we’re all very close and still play the occasional show! From 2014-2016 I was a member of a group called Calico the Band, a female trio, and we recorded two albums together. During my time with Shooter I’ve played on his records, as well as many albums for the artists he’s produced, such as White Buffalo, Hellbound Glory, Kelsey Waldon, Yelawolf, and Marilyn Manson to name a few. Most recently I started playing with a great group called the Kindred Souls, and recorded a cover record with them that will also be out this Fall. All of this music can or will be available online as it’s released.
Have you performed at the Cinema Bar before?
I’ve definitely performed at the Cinema Bar before, but it’s been a LONG TIME, with the exception of last month when I went to listen and sit in with Tom’s band and see what all the commotion was about. In the past I was mainly just sitting in or playing with friends as the fiddler, so it will be fun getting to do my own set with Tom who hosts these monthly Sunday music nights!
What can we expect from the set this time?
The set is going to be a mix of some originals paired with songs by my favorite artists and writers – ones that best lend themselves to the stripped-down interpretation of a duo, and thus, some duets with Tom as well! I’m thinking about recording some of the songs, so performing them live like this helps me to hone in on arrangements and see how they settle. It’s a great way of auditioning songs for your own record.
What else do you have coming up?
I’ve already done a fair amount of touring this year, so it’s nice to have a break and be in town for awhile. After this I have some local gigs with different friends and bands I play with; private events and such. Starting in September I’ll be doing some more shows with producer/songwriter Peter Asher (formerly of Peter and Gordon) for his show “Memoirs,” (see his website for dates), and I also expect to be doing some more shows with the Mustangs this fall to coincide with the release of the record, dates TBA. You can check the website for updates on this: www.mustangsofthewest.com. To see where I’m playing and updates on my own music, the best place to follow that is on FB and IG https://www.facebook.com/aubreyrichmond, IG handle: @aubrey_richmond.
For more information about the concert, go to thecinemabar.com.