Check most any local musicians calendar that’s performing consistently and chances are they’re playing about four to five times a month in the ever expanding Portland market. If they’re touring on a regular basis, that number may jump up to ten or twelve shows a month. Review singer/songwriter/guitarist Robert Richter’s calendar and you’ll find him performing on the average of twenty shows a month from spring through the winter-every year.
‘What I tend to find is that a lot of musicians don’t really want to do, or know how to do, all of the work that's involved in booking and promoting shows. There sometimes seems to be a mentality among artists that if you just write great songs then the gigs will just appear, and that’s just now how it is-it’s hard work.’
One of the main reasons that Robert works so often is that he is involved in several creative projects with unique and talented musicians from diverse backgrounds.
‘I’ve got my own solo shows, of course, and then I have a duo project that I rotate three great fiddlers in; 2011 National Fiddle Champion Aarun Carter, Rachel Bowen and Matt Hundley. Another project is a Celtic duo called Castletown that I perform with Rachel, with Aarun sometimes filling in. And then I have the Billy Novas, which consists of me, Marianne Flemming and Rachel on fiddle. The Novas are a lot of fun. Marianne is a big jazz fan-awhile back we were listening to jazz records from the likes of Sergio Mendes-that type of swinging jazz sound anyway, and we started putting songs together. Then one day we were turned on listening to some old Frankie Laine records…western swing and different country influences. As we mixed up the influences and instrumentation we really loved the sound that we had! Then, there’s the Anna-Lisa band, which has a modern country sound and is a lot of fun to play. She’s a fantastic singer and performer and has opened for many national acts all over the country. The focus in that band is her vocals because she is unbelievably good!’
‘What a lot of musicians don’t realize, especially the musicians that are new to playing live, is that there are times of the year when you really have to get busy with promotions-the farmer doesn’t just walk into his field and harvest-he has to plant first and it’s the same way for musicians. It’s planting season in November, December and January for the next year’s shows. But probably the most important and key element is the building of relationships. Artists need to understand that booking agents for venues and festivals are inundated with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of emails and applications every day from performers wanting to play. And, just like any business, they (the venues) appreciate professionalism and timeliness-responding to an email within a day instead of a week, showing up an hour ahead of time for a show instead of five minutes beforehand-and above all else, being nice and easy to work with! Once you’re able to establish a good working relationship, you’ll find that the venues will start calling you to see if you’re available!’
You can catch the Billy Nova’s on Wednesday, March 27 at 9:00pm at the LaurelThirst Public House.