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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.

Instrument(s):

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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