[Interview] Kim Richey

Singer-songwriter from the Dayton suburb of Kettering

Singer-songwriter from the Dayton suburb of Kettering.

The year was 1995. Emmylou Harris released “Wrecking Ball” and Steve Earle was finishing “I Feel Alright,” which came out early in ’96. In retrospect, it was when the loosely defined alt-country music movement began to grow beyond the aficionado stage.

It was also in ’95 when Kim Richey, a singer-songwriter from the Dayton suburb of Kettering, put out her self-titled major label debut album. It didn’t attract a fraction of the attention that Harris and Earle drew, but it was the first step in the meandering journey that brings Richey to the Southgate House Thursday night where she will share the stage with Chuck Prophet.

Richey is on the road playing songs from “Wreck Your Wheels,” her sixth collection of original tunes that have always been closer to a folky pop sound than its country cousin. It’s kismet that she will play with Prophet, one of her many friends that she has collaborated with over the years.

“It’s just that one show (in Newport); we were scheduled in the same place in the same town and we said let’s combine the show,” Richey says.

“We’ve never played on tour together. Ryan Adams and Chuck and I went out on a songwriters thing years ago, but we’ve never really done a proper show together so I think it will be fun.”

Fun is what Richey searches for when making music. The people that she has written with over the years is a who’s who of hipster (she would argue about that word) icons from Mindy Smith and Joan Osborne to Will Kimbrough and Mark Olson. They all have one thing in common

“Everyone asks about the co-writing which is a term that I don’t like,” Richey says. “It’s cooperation and that’s what I love about it. That’s how I met Chuck and became friends with Chuck. A lot of my really close friends I met by writing songs with them

“Writing with people that you don’t know and don’t have a relationship with is really hard for me.”

Apparently, what isn’t hard is her savant-like ability to pick perfect partners. The Richey-Prophet cooperative is responsible for “If You Don’t Mind” from 1999’s “Glimmer,” heartbreakingly beautiful mid-tempo number about the fatigue of love, and “Break You Down,” an unreleased song that she included on “The Collection,” a retrospective released in 2004.

“Wreck Your Wheels” doesn’t travel far from the Richey template of personal songs with hum-along melodies performed by standout musicians with her voice soaring at the top. Multi-instrumentalist Neilson Hubbard produced the album and joins Richey on stage with Dan Mitchell.

“We can’t afford to bring the whole band on the road, so what we have is Neilson and … Dan Mitchell. Everyone is playing more than one thing … and our brains are just about to explode after we rehearse for a couple of hours,” Richey says.

“We played here (Nashville) the other night and it sounded really good. It was our first time outside of rehearsal and we made quite a bit of noise for three people.”

Sounds like a perfect collaboration.

Kim Richey performs “Chase Wild Horses”.



Each week, Bob Hust and Bill Thompson feature the best songs – old and new – from artists they have loved for many years and others they have just discovered. The best songs transport people to a time and place. That’s the foundation of BS&B.

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