Kevin Richards

Kevin T. Richards is a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist specializing in Roots music that includes pre-war blues, Appalachian styles, early rock and traditional jazz. He plays an array of instruments, including electric and acoustic guitar, fiddle, banjo and mandolin. Recognized by the Ohio Arts Council, Kevin is a master artist in the Piedmont guitar styles. He has entertained audiences across the United States for over forty years.

Kevin has performed at the National Folk Fest, MerleFest, Brooklyn Folk Festival and for Augusta Heritage Week. He has performed at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame many times at its annual American Master Series; and at the Rock Hall conferences focusing on the music of Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson, Lead Belly, and Jimmie Rodgers.  Kevin was hired by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 to create outreach education programs to work with thousands of students in schools. He helped create and oversee the Blues in the School and Roots to Rock programs which were showcased in a documentary film called “Keeping the Music Alive.” He has also performed at the Robert Ebert Film Festival.

Kevin is the leader of the string band “SpYder Stompers and Sugar Pie”,  an acoustic quartet that was included in the Ohio Arts Council’s Ohio Artists on Tour directory. He is the lead guitarist for the Gypsy jazz band, Hot Djang!, specializing in the music of Django Reinhardt.  He also plays Freddie Green style guitar with the Night Owls, an 11-piece orchestra and works with George Foley and his Rhythm, with both groups focusing on the styles of Fats Waller, Duke Ellington and early 20th century jazz.

He has shared the stage with Grammy Award winner and Blues Hall of Fame member John Hammond, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Jorma Kaukonen, National Heritage Fellowship recipient Howard Armstrong, and Blues Hall of Fame member Robert Lockwood Jr.

As a Clinician, he has conducted acoustic guitar workshops at the MerleFest. He was on staff multiple summers and taught blues guitar at Augusta Heritage Week in Elkins WV. Others workshops include the ongoing annual Lake Erie Folk Festival, the Kent State Folk Festival; and the National Folk Festival.

Kevin founded the Fairmount School of Music in 1989 with a focus on bringing private music instruction to the community. The music school partnered in 2020 and today is called Musicologie Cleveland Heights. In 1999, he founded the nonprofit organization, Roots of American Music (ROAM), with a vision to provide outreach to the community in order to bring roots music programming and education to diverse audiences including underserved youth and adults with disabilities. He served as Executive director for 22 years.

Kevin directed “First Voice, Ohio,” a documentary film that showcased various roots musicians from across the state of Ohio. The 2011 documentary was aired statewide by PBS.

He has released three CDs: The First-String Band (1995), One Night at the Spider (1997), and SpYder Stompers (2014), all of which feature pre-war acoustic blues as well as traditional string band music. His newest CD, Rested When the Role is Called, will be released in the fall of 2022.

Kevin has competed at the national fingerstyle guitar championship at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield Kansas.  Locally, he was a First-Place winner in the Burton, Ohio guitar competition at the Raccoon County Music Festival, and was the recipient of the Northern Ohio Live community music award for his community planning for the 2000 Folk Alliance Conference.

A lifelong Cleveland Heights resident, Kevin began his formal music training with various guitar teachers, and was a music major at Cleveland State University. He began his music career as a music instructor at Dick Lurie Guitar Studios in Cleveland Heights and taught for 9 years.

Kevin T Richards
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