Take Five With Richard Collins

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Meet Richard Collins: Richard Collins is a totally unknown street performer who began his career in New Orleans in the mid-1960s and is still performing everyday in Portland, Oregon. He celebrates 50 years of guitar this year, 2009. Recently, he has released 21 albums on Redeye Records.


Dobro guitar.

Teachers and/or influences?

Babe Stovall.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... When I first saw how the women looked at the good guitar players...

Your sound and approach to music: My sound is based on Merle Travis/Chet Atkins style with a lot more feeling on the hard picked notes...

Your teaching approach: Like Herb Ellis said, students should sing or hum the song to themselves while they play it.

Your dream band:

Band members really have to know each other's limitations...would like to work with Woody Allen and Marcus Roberts.

Road story: Your best or worst experience: Showed up for a gig but the place had burned down the night before I was to play...

Favorite venue:

I have had many fine gigs all over the world.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? I like doing Buddy Bolden's "Spider"—it has an appeal somewhere between ragtime, swing, trad jazz and country...hard to find a song that fits in there like that one does...

The first Jazz album I bought was: Bill Black's Combo.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? I am in the midst of the people and I want 'em to feel as good as I do when I am right on...

Did you know...

I play violin as well as trumpet and guitar.

CDs you are listening to now: I like Wynton Marsalis' takes on Louis Armstrong.

Desert Island picks:

Bob Dylan, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan;

Louis Armstrong's Greatest Hits;

Dave van Ronk Sings the Blues;

Rolf Cahn and Eric von Schmidt, Rolf Cahn and Eric von Schmidt;

Jelly Roll Morton, Library of Congress Recordings 1938.

How would you describe the state of jazz today? Overcrowded with mediocre talent; not enough musicians' money in jazz performances.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? Art in public places; CETA grants.

What is in the near future? Personally, I want to play a festival—but I want to be invited.

By Day:

Street musician at Kornblatt's NY Deli.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a: A very successful nobody.

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