There is nothing more compelling to me than a musician who takes their art seriously, without losing a sense of humor about themselves. To become lost in music is a wonderful and magical experience, but to remain grounded in an earthly character is, perhaps, the driving force behind musical charisma.
This amalgamation is epitomized in the local band RI¢HIE, who got their start in the late summer of 2011. Richie Kirkpatrick was working as Jessica Lea Mayfield’s bandleader and guitarist, and had recorded an eight-song album with an uncertainty as to what to name the band behind it. With a flair for animation, he decided on the self-exposing moniker, whose cent sign endorses the spirit of a caricature. “I have a joke among my friends about how funny it is that James Taylor wrote a song about himself called ‘sweet baby james,’ so my name in the band is ‘sweet baby Richie,’” he says.
RI¢HIE began as a three-piece outfit that shared Mayfield’s backing band, including Grant Gustafson on bass and Scott Hartlaub on drums. By the spring of 2012, the group incorporated two new drummers, Jeff Ehlinger and Matt Martin, and recorded Night Game.
The first three songs of the album are light-hearted party anthems, bolstering the soul of late night intoxication with jazzy guitar licks and a booming brass section. There is no pretense to the lyrical content; the themes are strictly centered around the “party of the year,” the freedom in wanting to party with friends, and the sadness, that follows us through year beyond our adolescence, of missing out on reckless and highly anticipated social endeavors. “The real world is nothing like college. It’s a lot more like high school,” Meryl Streep once accurately remarked. This fully embodies the spirit of the first half of Night Games- the perfect album for promoting cartoonish adventures that usher in the parallel lives of our youthful abandon. The second half of the album, while still light in content, picks up on streams of folk and the energy of southern, blues-based rock. In their songs exist pockets of garage and psychedelic sounds, woven together with a sincere pop sensibility. “They Just Fooled The Children Of The Revolution Again” harkens back to the Beatles, portraying with wit the cyclical universality of the underground’s side-stepped position in an evermore confusing society.
Since the release of Night Games, RI¢HIE has added a rotating cast of band members, fleshing out their sound and delivering high-energy and noteworthy performances across the city.
Listen to RI¢HIE here, and catch them 4/19 at Exit/In with Juston Stens and Samantha Harlow.