Local Recording Artist Develops His Own Sound
By Keith Burbank
“In 1999, I went on an AIDS ride because I was looking for something more fulfilling,” said 18th Street resident Richard DeWilde. “The same year I started taking piano lessons, and this whole world opened up to me,” DeWilde said. “When people hear me play and they ask me how long I have been playing, I tell them four to five years. Some people say they have been playing 20 years, and they do not sound as good as I do. And I think what makes the difference is that I have been developing my own sound.”
DeWilde started off playing the guitar as a junior in high school, influenced by Jimmy Hendrix. “I grew up in Altus, Oklahoma, a small town,” he said. “In Oklahoma, it was country music or hard rock/heavy metal music. My friends were into heavy metal music. That’s what made me pick up the guitar.”
“I met the person who is my piano instructor at a party in Bernal Heights,” DeWilde said. “Allison Lovejoy gives private lessons to about 50 people.” After he’d taken six months of piano lessons, Lovejoy told him he needed to practice to master the instrument, advice DeWilde diligently followed, purchasing his own piano. “I love playing piano,” DeWilde said. The instrument “taps into something that I didn’t know was there before. The piano has a really beautiful tone, and combined with the harmonica, seems to draw something really emotional for me.” Recently, DeWilde has been listening to jazz music, particularly favoring pianist Bill Evans.
DeWilde was born in Georgia, but frequently moved as a child. “My dad was in the Air Force, so we bounced around a bit. Eventually we settled in Oklahoma.” He attended Oklahoma State University (OSU). When a friend from high school – who also attended OSU – moved to Santa Cruz, California, DeWilde decided to follow. In 1992, he moved to San Francisco.
Although DeWilde’s day job is with Los Angeles-based Mercer Consulting, his current focus is on music. “I’ve been playing guitar since 1981,” DeWilde said. “I have been in a few rock bands. In the mid-90s, I played in a band named Porcelain. We had some local success. But the inevitable musical differences came up and we went our separate ways.” While playing with Porcelain, DeWilde met Bill Cooper, who created the band’s advertising fliers. After the breakup, Cooper, who plays bass guitar, joined DeWilde to form Romp, which still occasionally plays together.
According to Michelle Binning, one of DeWilde’s fans, “Rich’s music is inspiring and original. Eclectic and lively, his music has a genuine, sweet, and sincere quality, which describes Rich himself. He is unique. I am eager to see him play live again.”
DeWilde has recorded two albums, Two Chords Shy a Song and Everything Is Beautiful. He’s starting work on a third album this month, with plans to record six new songs on the piano and two new tunes on guitar. With these new singles, plus the songs from his two previous albums, DeWilde believes he’ll have a solid set of music with which to play shows.
DeWilde records mostly solo music, deploying the piano, vocals, and harmonica, or guitar and piano. He records his guitar and piano playing separately, then combines the two sounds electronically. He’s recorded some of his live music, and recently played a show at 50 Mason Social House, one of the City’s newest live music venues, located in the Tenderloin. He’s submitting recordings to other local clubs to secure more gigs. Once he establishes himself as a musician in San Francisco, he’d like to play shows in the East Bay, expanding from there.
More information about DeWilde and places to buy his albums can be found at www.richarddewilde.com.
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