Big Richard formed specifically to be the token all-female band at McAwesomefest in Colorado in May of 2021. Lucky for fans of bluegrass, authentic vocals and a little something different, what started as a token quickly alchemized into gold.
“When we finally got together, the musical chemistry was through the roof,” Dr. Joy Adams, the band’s cellist tells BandWagon. “We were having too much fun. What started out as kind of a joke quickly turned into a passion project,” she says. “We couldn’t quit it. This band is like a drug.”
Adams plays with the likes of Nathaniel Rateliff, but has found a remarkable camaraderie in Bonnie Sims on mandolin, Emma Rose on bass and guitar, and Eve Panning on fiddle. Each of the players have impressive resumes (Daniel Rodriguez, Everybody Loves an Outlaw, Whippoorwill) making Big Richard a true Colorado supergroup.
“It is SO FUN,” Adams says. “We’re always laughing until we cry, and there’s no competition. It’s just genuine, supportive fun. I’ve been lucky to play with all kinds of really cool people, but I always feel like I’m stretching – filling a role expected of me as a female musician. I’ve come to like that role, but with Big Richard, who I actually am as a human being and artist is lifted up and amplified by the whole band. My voice is accepted and celebrated just the way it is.”
The joy, so to speak, and authenticity is palpable in the quartet’s live videos; four women gathered around a single microphone in the “off the floor” bluegrass tradition.
“I feel like I can play whatever role I want,” Adams says of Big Richard. “I can be masculine, I can be feminine, I can send it, or be understated. That kind of freedom is indescribable.”
What we hear in Big Richard is the best version of Simms, Rose, Panning and Adams. “It’s 100% us,” Adams says. “We’re not trying to fill any role or be anything in particular beyond a whole lot of fun.”