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It's impossible to fathom that his debut for upstart ALTCO Recordings, Anywhere
But Home, is the first time he's walked up to the plate. There's
certainly some major league level musicians backing him - including players who
have served stints with Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, and X - but
Richards' performances are what drive the record. Read full review
Wild American Radio Graffiti on the Soul:
Kern Richards' Anywhere But Home
Raised in a household where story songs - by the likes
of the Clancy Brothers, Johnny Cash and Cal Smith - were the order of
the day, Richards found himself being pulled toward music that said something - and picking up a pen to write his own songs. As for his picking style,
well... Read full review
HIS MUSIC DOES THE TALKING
Kern Richards finds his
way in a country-influenced style
Feature article, Long Beach Press-Telegram
Article, Long Beach Press-Telegram:
SINGER/GUITARIST'S PICK? LONG BEACH
— Ryan Ritchie,
Special to the Long Beach Press-Telegram
Kern Richards plays Long
Beach so often it would be easy to think he lives here. That's fine by him. "I
used to live in downtown Long Beach, and I intentionally play there a lot," says
Richards, who plays the Pike Restaurant & Bar Saturday. "I prefer Long Beach over
any other area in Southern California. That's where the most musical stuff is
going on. Supposedly everyone wants to play out in Hollywood and L.A., but as
far as Hollywood goes, I could never stand the place."
The guitarist/songwriter first showed an interest with the six-string instrument at the
age of 3 and later joined an Orange County punk band named Pig Children during
his formative years. But it wasn't until Richards discovered folk icon Ramblin'
Jack Elliott that he put all his efforts into a solo career. After leaving Pig
Children, Richards spent some time away from the stage constructing material
and says watching Elliott did more than simply inspire him. "I spent a long time
during that period when I was thinking and writing following him (Elliott) around,"
Richards says. "One time I followed him up to this folk festival - he didn't know
me, I just went - and watching him was how I figured out how to finger pick."
Richards rotates between playing solo and with a backing band and says
his show Saturday at the Pike will feature bassist Mike Heinle. The singer/songwriter
is currently at work on his third full-length disc, but says this weekend's show
won't feature any new material. Although the singer is influenced by topical songs
by the likes of folk hero Woody Guthrie, Richards applies a different lyrical
technique that he describes as "based on loneliness."
Much of his lyrical
content deals with accounts of life's hardships, but Richards is quick to point
out that not every word that comes out of his Tom Waits-esque voice is a first-person
recollection. "I'm not really writing about myself," Richards says. "It's more
feeling oriented. It's stuff that could possibly happen to anybody. People take
it literally and miss the whole point...I guess it's normal for people to relate
everything you say in a song to themselves."
with Elliott came full circle when the pair ran into each other before one of
Elliott's shows in Covina in 2005. Richards showed up to the gig three hours early
and ran into Elliott, which turned into the duo sharing dinner and, later that
evening, the stage. Richards, who at the time kept his gear in his car because
he was playing so often, was prepared when Elliott invited him to perform an impromptu
show and says since then the pair has formed a friendly bond. "While we were eating,"
Richards says, "he asked me if I wanted to open the show for him. It was pretty
surreal eating dinner with him at a Mexican restaurant. It sort of happened in
slow motion. I started playing with him occasionally after that, and at one of
our shows, he heckled me."
"Kern Richards sings about the important things in life... Richards is a storyteller." My all-time
favorite old-school tattoo features a Betty Boop-looking babe perched atop a martini
glass underlined by the phrase "Man's Ruin." I have no idea if singer-songwriter Kern Richards
has such a tattoo, but after listening to his eponymous debut EP, I have no doubt he'd agree with
the sentiment. If lyrical content is any sort of gauge, Richards, former rythym guitarist for the
obscure and now defunct Orange County punk band Pig Children, has obviously spent way too
much time hanging out in bars thinking about women.
"At 100 pounds, man she could sink a tanker / She ain't heavy, she's an anchor," he sings in a husky
baritone on the humorously titled "She Ain't Heavy." In later verses, he rhymes anchor with
"spank her," "rancor" and "chancre," providing valuable clues to said woman's pedigree.
Richards is a storyteller, and the four songs on the EP all concern loneliness, boozing or female
trouble—sometimes all three at once. But it's not as depressing as it appears: Richards' acoustic
guitar picking is chirpy and pleasant, and while the words are bleak, they're often delivered with
tongue firmly in cheek. Once the man comes to town, he stays.
— R.V. Scheide, North Bay Bohemian
Anywhere But Home - Album Review - by Jason Mater Robinson
"Where Tom Waits' drawl and Leonard Cohen's lullaby echoes overlap... Thank God for folks
like Kern Richards who tell it like it is... heartfelt, under-belly Americana." Read full review
Terrell's Tune-Up - Album review, Santa Fe New Mexican
Anywhere But Home by Kern Richards
"This is a collection of tough-minded roots-rock tunes by a
from Southern California with a deep, ragged,
world-weary voice who sings
from the gut and writes from dark regions of
his soul..." Read full review ____________________________________________________________
WINE, WOMEN AND SONG