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DelFest Sessions: Big Richard

Jun 26, 2024


Our DelFest Sessions continue with the second edition in our series from the McCoury-hosted festival, held over Memorial Day Weekend 2024. We were fortunate to have BGS contributors and videographers I Know We Should on hand at the event in Cumberland, Maryland to capture intimate, riverside performances with some of the impressive acts on the DelFest lineup. This time, we’re featuring Colorado-based string band, Big Richard.

We’ve followed this genre-blending bluegrass group for more than a few years now, so we were delighted to sync up with Joy Adams, Eve Panning, Hazel Royer, and Bonnie Sims on the banks of the north branch of the Potomac River, where Maryland and West Virginia meet at the site that’s been home to DelFest since it began in 2008. The band’s first song is “The Missing Stair,” an inspiring number co-written by Sims with artists and songwriters Melody Walker and Phoebe Hunt.

With a wide open groove, plenty of soul and passion, and an encouraging, challenging message, the lyrics process traumas, whether familial or generational, spoken or unspoken. There’s pain, reckoning, and ultimately a tidy dose of redemption, all punctuated by gorgeous solos – especially by Adams on bluegrass- and old-time-inflected cello – and soaring collective vocals. This is a chorus for all of us to sing along, that’s for sure.

For their second selection, it’s a perfect song for the transition from spring to summer, “Back Porch Dove,” which was written by Adams and finds the cellist swapping her cello and bow for a growly and honeyed mandocello. A song about love, tension, conflict, and violent release, you can almost feel the heat and humidity settling in on the back porch or just imagine the background of cooing doves, all text-painted artfully by Adams and Big Richard.

“The sweetest song I have ever found/ Were the back porch dove crying to his love/ That the sun won’t come around again…” Adams sings, a certainly sweet song itself with a bitter tinge of finality as the river flows gently by. Big Richard are certainly on the move and on the rise, and deservedly so. With songs as striking as these and points of view truly original among their contemporaries, it will be exciting to continue to watch what they’ll accomplish and what’ll they record and release next. Is a full-length studio album in the works, for instance? We know we aren’t the only ones excited for that inevitable milestone from this group.

Stay tuned as we continue our DelFest Sessions series in the coming weeks with even more exclusive live performances shot on site at the festival.

Video Credit: Brad Wagner, I Know We Should
Drone Footage: Christopher Weist
Audio Credit: Juan Soria, I Know We Should

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DelFest Sessions: Big Richard
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