Big Richard is a “neo-acoustic supergroup” who sing “bluegrass with a side of lady rage”. The band is made up of Colorado musicians Bonnie Sims (mandolin), Joy Adams (cello), Emma Rose (bass, guitar) and Eve Panning (fiddle). We asked them to participate in a little Q&A about the band and here’s what they had to say.
What/who inspired you to start playing music?
All of us grew up in musical families and started playing and singing as children.
Who are your musical influences?
We all grew up steeped in different varieties of traditional music: folk, bluegrass, classical, old-time. We have a variety of personal influences ranging from New Grass Revival, I’m With Her, Gillian Welch and Joni Mitchell to Kendrick Lamar, Adrienne Lanker, Crooked Still and Hillary Hahn.
Did you take music lessons or are you self-taught – or a combo?
We all grew up with a mixture of taking formal lessons and learning through playing music with our family and jamming.
How did the band get together?
Eve got a call from a private bluegrass festival in Colorado that realized they had booked an all-male lineup that year and wanted Eve to put together a female group to help rectify that. Eve gave each of us a call and we jumped at the chance to collab as a group. It ended up being so fun that even though we were supposed to have just one gig we couldn’t quit this band, so we booked more, most notably WinterWonderGrass and RockyGrass, and then we couldn’t stop.
Who are you enjoying listening to these days?
We all have pretty different musical tastes but I’m (Bonnie) digging the new Nickel Creek record, Sam Bush’s new John Hartford record, and love listening to my friend’s bands and music: Alysia Kraft, Gasoline Lollipops, Madeline Hawthorne, Megan Burtt, Jake Leg — Colorado does not lack for kick-ass bands.
What do you like most about performing in front of an audience?
This band really connects with the audience through the music but almost equally as powerfully through humor and our personalities. We just have a genuinely good time and the audience can’t resist having a good time with us.
What’s your songwriting style?
We have just started co-writing as a group and tend to need to carve our specific dates/times to jump into a new song together. We still have a good balance of folks bringing songs they worked independently on too.
You can catch Big Richard at the Boulder Theater on April 8th with AJ Lee & Blue Summit. They’ve also just spent a week in the studio making their first Big Richard album. The band released Live at Telluride from a recent set at Telluride Bluegrass. We’re excited to see what happens next with the band.