Don Richmond has been making music in his homeland of Colorado and New Mexico for more than 50 years. Influenced by the wide-open spaces and isolation of the San Luis Valley, he has made a living by becoming skilled at and creating a variety of musical ventures, including performing, producing, and songwriting.
Don has been a founding member of bands like Tumbleweed and Hired Hands, and currently performs with the Rifters, a New Mexico based band playing Southwestern Americana. Tumbleweed released four albums in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Hired Hands released three in the 1990s, and the Rifters are currently working on their seventh. Additionally, Don has recorded seven solo CDs, two with his brothers Ed and Jim (The Richmond Brothers), and two with his friend and business partner David Clemmer (Richmond/Clemmer).
As owner of Howlin' Dog Recording and partner in Howlin' Dog Records, he has recorded and produced or co-produced hundreds of albums for local, regional, and national artists. Along the way, Don has become fluent in guitar (acoustic and electric), banjo, mandolin, fiddle, dobro, and pedal steel, as well as sometimes grabbing the trumpet, accordion, pennywhistle, hammered or mountain dulcimer, percussion, or keyboards for that particular color on a recording project. Blair Jackson wrote in Acoustic Guitar (May/June, 2022), “Despite that long list of instruments, all of the arrangements are supremely tasteful and even spare – as if the space in the arrangements mirrors the vistas the songs describe. All the parts are designed to be in service to the songs…”
Don is also an accomplished songwriter and regularly co-teaches songwriting workshops with his friends Eliza Gilkyson and John Gorka. Don also wrote a self-help book for musicians, published in 2004, titled “Getting Your Music Past the Fear”, and became a trained workshop leader during the 1990s with the Colorado Council on the Arts Artist in Residence program.
In 2014 Don received an honorary doctorate from Adams State University in his hometown of Alamosa, Colorado, and in 2015 was awarded the Governor's Award for Creative Leadership in the State of Colorado. Don has also been a board member of numerous non-profit organizations such as Society Hall, Crestone Performances, Alamosa Live Music Association, and the Valley Community Fund.
Through all these many years of so many activities in music and the arts, Don has been dedicated to exploring the essence of what makes music do what it does, and what causes it to create and engender the connections among both the musicians and the audiences that it does. “Why does music do what it does? Why does it make us feel the things that it does? Why does it help us feel connected to life and all that makes life worth living, and how can we do that more, and better? Those are the things that keep me doing music,” says Richmond. “I've been working on these things for more than 50 years now, and I know that I'll never reach the end of the trail of exploration and expansion that music provides, and ain't that grand?” he adds.
Although retired from full-time recording, Don continues to produce select projects and perform both as a solo artist and with his primary band, the Rifters, as well as occasionally with his old band Tumbleweed. He is a sought-after accompanist for artists with whom he has done recordings and other regional and national acts traveling through the area.