Music : Richie Stearns to play KCT with David Gura
Richie Stearns makes beautiful music. Stearns will play at the Katharine Cornell Theatre this Saturday at 7:30 - the latest addition to a formidable list of world-class musicians that KCT Concerts has brought to the Island. His tools include fiddle, guitar, tenor guitar, banjo, keyboards, and a plaintive voice. He is known as a banjo virtuoso. His musical stylings range from The Holy Modal Rounders to Woody Guthrie, from the Reaves White County Ramblers, to Bill Monroe to Hank Williams and Bela Fleck. Mr. Fleck once wrote, "Richie is a wonderful musician. I love his mantra-groove spooky-banjo style."
Mr. Stearns has focused on his music since he was 14, in junior high school, playing string band and jug band music. Influenced by just about anything that can be heard and understood as music, he is steeped in the American traditions of old-time music, Appalachian folk, bluegrass, blues, jazz, rock, and country. He has led numerous bands, including The Horse Flies, and Donna the Buffalo. He has played with many others and toured with Natalie Merchant and 10,000 Maniacs. He is a musician's musician.
He performs songs from a multitude of genres, often mixing and matching techniques and styles, always serving the song. His instrumental virtuosity never overshadows his songs. Each piece is an artistic whole.
"Anyone who has played with Richie Stearns will tell you how kind and joyful and honest he is, as a musician and human being. His love for music is infectious," wrote David Gura, an associate editor of Talk of the Nation on National Public Radio, and a fiddler who will accompany Stearns Saturday evening. Banjo guru Tony Trischka said, as quoted on Stearns's website, that Stearns is "a transcendentally clawhammering force of nature. Richie's music is ladled from deep wells of spirit."
Stearns lives in Ithaca, N.Y., where he teaches banjo and fiddle between gigs.
Concert: Richie Stearns, 7:30 pm, Saturday, April 3, Katharine Cornell Theatre, Vineyard Haven. Sponsored by KCT Concerts. $20; $15 in advance at Aboveground Records, Alley's General Store, Island Entertainment, The Scottish Bakehouse, Oak Bluffs General Store. 508-693-6237; kctconcerts.com.