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From St. Croix, Virgin Islands: Bobby Richards

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JJ Rocks article # 4: From St. Croix, Virgin Islands:
Bobby Richards

Go up to any seasoned musician on St. Croix and ask Whos the best drummer on St. Croix and most likely the answer will be Bobby Richards. Not known for picking up any little gig at some backwater bar, Bobby Richards always seems to be surrounded by real musicians. Not with hobby players who are just out to make a buck while attempting to be part of the music scene with only three chords to offer. Bobby is the real deal and hes what a lot of drummers wish they could be.

Ive had the opportunity to play with him in several totally different kinds of bands. Weve done progressive rock, blues, reggae, and jazz bands together. His timing is flawless, but what I like the most is his tone. He treats his drums like a fine instrument instead of a set of cans to bang on like some drummers do. And he always carries himself in a very professional manner as if he were playing at a five star hotel/casino, no matter where he plays. Thats just his nature.

But more on the musical side, to be in an improvisation mode while playing with bobby is almost, in a way, a telepathic experience. Now I know that not all of our readers would understand that, but the musicians who experience a lot of connections with other players while soloing will definitely know what I mean. Sometimes I felt like he was reading my mind as I came up with phases on my guitar. Its as if he would know what I was going to play before I played it! Thats rare in most cases. With bobby its expected. Hes also one of the only drummers that I have played with in St. Croix that doesnt make me spend half the gig turning around and giving cues. The only reason that I turned around on stage with Bobby in the band was to watch him play! So lets take a look at the life of a great St. Croix drummer.

Bobby Richards is a self-taught, Virgin Islands government-honored musician-drummer/percussionist, vocalist, composer, recording/performing artist, producer, audio recording engineer, and music/drum teacher. He comes from a musical family and started playing the drums at the age of five. He has performed with Jon Lucien, Najee, Jimmy Hamilton, Jimmy Owens, and the Mighty Sparrow, to name a few. Bobby is heavily influenced by Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, Earth, Wind & Fire, Kassav, and drummers Elvin Jones, Billy Cobham, and Omar Hakim, as well as the elements of Frederiksted. He has composed, produced, and released a solo album "This Life Anew" and a single "It's Kwanzaa Again".

As a young teenager, Bobby and his brothers Ricky and Tony and close friends started the very popular "Soul Busters". They opened for and have accompanied numerous accomplished stateside and Caribbean acts. Later they became "Quiet Fire" and released the critically acclaimed LP "Tropical Depression" and a few others. These two-time STX Festival road march kings performed twice in Columbia, S.A. as ambassadors of the Virgin Islands.

Bobby just recently hand-built a state-of-the-art recording studio and is composing a movie soundtrack, two solo CDs, a Kwanzaa-concept album, and is presently teaching an 8-year old female drummer who will surely turn heads. He has also formed "FOSSIL", a new group whose goal is to revise and revive the Virgin Islands/Caribbean music scene. Through this group he will introduce new concepts in rhythms and drumming. Bobby has also been the drummer with numerous groups here at Sunset Jazz. To say the least, his resume, honors and awards are too extensive for this column.

  So if you want to hear a truly great drummer here in St. Croix, just try to find out where Bobby Richards is playing and get a seat up close as possible so you can watch him work his magic.

JJ Rocks - The Spotlight Zone