Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tuneful Interviews: Dylan Richardson

Dog whisperer, avocado avoider, good-humored and intelligent--join me today for a quiz visit with my brother, Dylan Richardson, a multi-instrumentalist, musical accompanist, and tune composer. 

At seventeen years old, Dylan has been playing guitar for twelve years. He started with conventional guitar lessons from the age of six until he was thirteen years old. Besides summer camps and a few Skype lessons with Zac Leger (Irish music mentor), he has been largely self taught in Irish guitar accompaniment as well as banjo, bouzouki, and mandolin. He has won 1st place in the under 13 accompaniment competition at the Maryland State Fleadh, and in August of 2011 he qualified to compete in the All-Ireland Fleadh under 15 accompaniment competition. In addition to backing up melody players, he enjoys composing tunes for them. 

Credit: Matt Ferrara Photography
The main focus of this interview is Dylan's work accompanying melody instruments. In my opinion, Dylan is a fantastic accompaniment talent and my favorite guitarist with whom to perform. He is also the main accompanist on my soon to be released debut CD.

What's it like being an accompanist?

Nobody really recognizes you, unless they have a similar appreciation and knowledge of accompaniment. You don't want to be the center of attention at all. The accompanist mainly pulls the melody together by adding down beats and more complex rhythm.

What's the most important thing about being an accompanist?

To know when not to play and what not to play. Also, to know what not to add. Rhythm is a big part of being an accompanist. If you add too much it can crowd the melody, if you add too little, it doesn't quite enhance the melody and can change the listeners perception of the tune. It's a lot to think about at first, but once you get the feel for it, it becomes easier. Many accompanists only really want to hear themselves and what they are doing, they don't really take enhancing the tune into consideration.

What was your favorite gig to play and why?

A recent gig we played at The Burren was my favorite. We opened for Kevin Crawford and Cillian Vallely. It was a good atmosphere to play in. The crowd really appreciated traditional Irish music. The sound technician was phenomenal in capturing the true sound of each instrument. And the hospitality from The Burren was incredible in making us feel welcome during our first visit to Boston.

What inspired you to play the guitar?

I don't remember really. I think I just liked the way it sounded. 

 What other accompanists do you enjoy listening to?

John Doyle and Eamon O'Leary as solo or duo accompanists are two of my absolute favorite players because of their ability to work together with two completely different styles. I love the way they enhance each other's playing and accompany other musicians.

Who has most influenced your style of playing and why?

John Doyle because I have learned great tips from him such as, how to keep the tempo going, how to work with varying rhythmic patterns, and to work out nice accompanying variations whilst keeping an imitative rhythmic percussion.

How can you vary the rhythm?

Difference in downbeats, accents in the up strokes, triplets, quadruplets, and change in the overall picking pattern within the tune, are some of the variations I use.

Currently, Dylan and I keep a busy schedule of gigs, but his plans for the future include a possible career in sound engineering, growing as a professional guitar accompanist, and pursuing his love of photography. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Christmas Tea

One Tuesday this past December, I had a wonderful joy-filled Christmas Tea with Miss. Kathy. We had some fun with the mischievous elves - Desmond and Sebastian, and took a few pictures. For more Christmas Tea fun, be sure to check out Miss. Kathy at The Writers Reverie.

"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year." 
- Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Desmond and Sebastian planning mischief, perhaps?

Sebastian with the party.

Copperfield on the hunt for cheese and apples.
It looks as if Sebastian and Desmond have already stolen some for him!

Miss. Kathy and I prepared some wonderful cookies for our tea!

Here's a recipe for the cookies I made!

Spritz Cookies

3 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 1/2 Cups Butter, softened
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Egg
2 Tablespoons Milk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Teaspoon Almond Extract
Sprinkles, etc.

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees

- Mix dry ingredients. 

- In separate bowl, use electric mixer to beat butter and sugar fluffy and light.

- To the butter and sugar mixture, add in egg, milk, and extracts.

- Slowly add dry ingredients and beat till well mixed.

- Put in cookie press with the shape disks of your choice (does not need to be chilled).

- Press individual cookies onto an un-greased cookie sheet.

- Decorate with sprinkles, etc. as desired.

- Bake 10-12 minutes until light golden brown.

- Let cool on rack after 2 minutes cooling on sheet.


It's time to put away all of the Christmas decorations now that we've begun the new year. However, spritz cookies are good for enjoying anytime, especially with a nice cup of tea.

Sharing Christmas Tea this week with:
Let’s Talk Vintage with Jill at Bella Rosa Antiques
Kathy’s Return to Loveliness at Delightsome Life
Sandi’s Tea Time Tuesday at Rose Chintz Cottage

An Irish Christmas at Symphony Space in New York City

A few days before Christmas, I had the pleasure of joining Mick Moloney and his band in two nights of An Irish Christmas.

When I arrived at Symphony Space in New York City on Friday, I found Mick, who was playing tunes with Billy McComiskey. After greeting them, I joined in on a song. Eventually, it was time for sound check where we rehearsed a few sets, too. Then, we waited, talking to members of the band until it was time for the show. A few photographers joined us and did a photo-shoot for next year's concert.

My mom and I listened to the first half with the audience. It was very interesting to hear the many different Irish Christmas songs. My favorite song was one Liz Hanley sung called, Christmas in the Trenches. Afterward, I listened backstage until I was called out for the last three sets.

The crowd was very large and welcoming. I joined the band for The Wren Song, The January Man, and finished with a set of reels. I loved being on stage with Mick and the band. They are all a joy to perform with.

The next day, Mick arranged a set for me to play with Athena and Liz, who both play fiddle. I listened to the show from backstage and again, joined the band for the last few sets in the second half. In the set with Athena and Liz, I started with a solo and played The Fisherman's Island, a reel by Ed Reavy. Then, the girls joined in and played The Shoemaker's Daughter, another reel by Ed Reavy. We finished with The Wren Song, The January Man, and the set of three reels.

It was great fun to play with the band and I am very excited to join them next year.