The Rifters formed in 2002 in the fertile and creative music scene of Taos, New Mexico from members of two popular bands already active in the area. Jim Bradley and Don Richmond of Hired Hands, and Rod Taylor and Steve Garry of the Rounders, who had all known one another for years playing in the acoustic dance-oriented Americana music scene of Northern New Mexico, decided to join forces to form The Rifters.
And just what sort of music do The Rifters play? From the liner notes to their self-titled first CD, released in July of 2004 on Howlin' Dog Records:
"It's music that comes from where we come from - both from the high desert and mountain landscape of our home and from the background and experiences of our lives - sort of a laid-back high-energy gentle giant old blue-buffalo-grama-grassy, cowboy, folky, shake-a-leg with a smile sort of thing. A rift is a split or a gap, sort of the like the Rio Grande Rift that we all live on or around. But this music is more about bridging gaps. For us the music is what ties all the different times and places together. We hope you enjoy it."
The Rifters are:
Rod Taylor on guitar, mandolin, and vocals. Rod lives in Cimarron, New Mexico and is also head of cattle operations at Philmont Ranch. In other words, he doesn't just look like a cowboy. Although Rod is well known for playing traditional cowboy music at cowboy poetry gatherings, his musical influences run from The Beatles to The Allman Brothers to old blues to Willis Alan Ramsey and back again. Rod's rich lead vocals provide one of the most immediately recognizable elements of The Rifters' distinctive sound.
Steve Garry on lead guitar and vocals. Both Steve and Rod grew up in the influential music scene of Lubbock, Texas that produced such artists as Buddy Holly, Joe Ely, Butch Hancock, and The Flatlanders and have known each other since junior high in the '60s. Steve's powerful lead guitar work and his soulful Texas-troubadour singing and songwriting were honed in many touring bands performing throughout the southern part of the country. Steve makes his home in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.
Jim Bradley on bass and vocals. Jim is a long-time Taos resident and is a native New Mexican, born in Las Cruces. Jim's powerful rhythmic and percussive playing provide the pulse for The Rifters' energetic acoustic rhythms. He has played his Fender bass from Alaska to Manhattan and many places in between, from the mountain bars to the big festival stages with touring national acts. Jim holds down many of the high harmony vocals in the Rifters' rich vocal arrangements.
Don Richmond on guitar, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, pedal steel guitar, harmonica and vocals. Don was a founding member of the near-legendary Colorado band Tumbleweed (1973 - 1990) and the Colorado-New Mexico band Hired Hands (1992). Don lives in Alamosa, Colorado and also owns and operates Howlin' Dog Recording, one of the most respected acoustic-oriented recording studios in the region, and has appeared on dozens of recordings by many of the region's top artists, as well as numerous projects under his own name and with his former bands. Don's multi-instrumental skills help provide the variety and excitement audiences enjoy in a Rifters' performance. He also covers lead and harmony vocals.
The Rifters are at home at a barn dance with the hay and the horses, in a mountain town bar or honky-tonk, or on a festival or concert stage. Their choice of moving and powerful material, both original and by others, their impeccable musicianship, and their strong three and four part vocal arrangements combine to make The Rifters a crowd-pleasing musical experience.
P.O. Box 825
Alamosa, CO 81101