In Part 1 of One Afternoon with Reagan Richards, #SharpNotes spoke with the Jersey born and bred performer about the influences that shape her artistry today, her passion for Country Music, her new project as half of Jersey’s first Country Duo; Williams Honor – a project with another established name on the Shore, Gordon Brown – and her much anticipated upcoming Revue show; One Night with Reagan Richards.

 

RELATED: One Afternoon with Reagan Richards Part 1

 

In Part 2 we learn more from Reagan – a member of this business called music.  She gives us a peek inside her working relationship with Gordon Brown.  Some unexpected moments she’s experienced on stage.  And she lets us in on some of the surprises we can expect at One Night with Reagan Richards this Friday, August 7th, at McLoone's Supper Club in Asbury Park.

One Afternoon with Reagan Richards: Part 2

 

by  Jennifer Pricci

Jennifer Pricci:  Do you think it is harder for women to make it in the music industry?

 

Reagan Richards:  You know, I hadn’t thought so until recently.  Lately there’s been a lot of talk about it – especially in country music.  You probably can name on one hand; Carrie, Miranda… just a few of them.  And I never really thought about it.  I was just moving along, doing what I was doing and, well, I was looking at the positive.  And it wasn’t until two months ago where I came to terms with the fact that there really aren’t a lot of women in country music.  So I’d like to think that if you’re good at what you do, you connect with the right people, and have luck… Luck is needed in this business.  There are people everywhere who are talented, and you have to have a little bit of somethin’ on your side to help you out.  

I really try not to focus on the fact that there may not be a lot of females. I’m trying to focus on Williams Honor, we’re a duo.  And I think there is a need for a male/female duo.  There was Sugarland, Steel Magnolia - who were great but broke up.  And there’s Thompson Square, who are also a fabulous DUO. But I think there’s a need for a new duo.  A dynamic duo.  And we’re really putting our money on the fact that Williams Honor is it.  We have to.      

 

JP:  The music industry has evolved so much.  And music is being consumed in a whole new way now.  Whether we’re talking social media or streaming services where you are privy to stream statistics.  These new platforms foster a dialogue between an artist and their fan base.  What do you think the pros and cons are of this?

 

RR:  It is a great thing to be able to put anything, whether it’s art – or a silly story about a millipede invading your bedroom – up on Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram or whatever.  You’re always going to get an instant result.  Somebody is going to respond, react, debate, applaud, whatever.  And don’t we always want that?  We communicate for a reason.

 

Tools like this at our fingertips, literally (makes touchscreen gesture) – well - there’s nothing like it.  Having said that – and I’ve said this a lot to Gordon and others – when I was little I used to look forward, every month, to my Bop magazine.  And my Star Hits magazine.  When I got my hands on a new one, it was exclusive, it was that month’s copy and I’m not getting another until next month.  I’d go to the store; ‘is it out yet, is it out yet?’.  And I’d wait.  And when MTV was on, and the spaceship would go up, and they’d announce the videos that were coming up; I’d sit, and I’d wait.  

 

I feel now – (snaps) – fans can see anything they want at any time they want.  Sensory overload.  And this is true for no matter what level you’re at.  And the idea is that you need to convince people how great you are.  And let them see how great you are.  Obviously we’re very proud of what we’re doing, in fact I think there’s nothing wrong with saying I think we’re great – anybody who doesn’t say that about themselves should probably sit down and think before they go back out there.   So I would say the cons are having too much at your fingertips.   There’s a need to find  where you’re going to fit in – in the new media space – and staying afloat.  

 

JP:  How are you going to cut through the clutter?  Any ideas?  You’ve been doing pretty well thus far – we started talking about this upfront – how you and Gordon have been very successful on social media so far.  But this is part of it now – the old school way of gaining promotion – new media is part of it now and it’s a very crowded and noisy landscape.  How are you planning to break through?

 

RR:  Wheels are always turning.  I am always thinking.  And Gordon is too.  Honestly – and this is going to sound so cliché but I think it’s so true – you have to be yourself first of all.  And what you see, even though you might not be seeing all of me – if I am having a bad day – what you do see is me.  I’m a picture fanatic.  I love pictures. I mean, I love pictures.  I am someone who is visually stimulated. If I see something online I like; I save it… pictures of a cool sky, a cute dog, a great outfit, a band.  I also like to capture moments.  Moments go by like that (snaps).  And I like to be able to look back at a picture – not to say I can’t remember it – but a picture is, for me, a very quick way to remember the setting I was in. 

 

The other night – it was funny – at the Glen Burtnik British Invasion show.  All the girls were getting ready and the only big mirror we had was in a public bathroom.  I said; ‘I want to get a group shot of all of you girls’.  And a couple of them were not happy, but I said; ‘get in here.  You may hate me right now but you will appreciate this tomorrow when it’s a good picture’.  And we all got in the mirror, and I said; ‘ok, Christina, move to that side, and you do this, you do this and “click”’.  Glen Burtnik sent me a text the next day and said; ‘I’m blown away.  You outdid yourself with that picture.  You captured something really cool’.  And that, to me, when I look at that picture, I think about how fun it was in the bathroom.  One girl’s brushing her teeth; another girl is doing her hair.  We captured a moment.  And that’s what pictures are to me.  So when I post something funny, when I post a picture, when I post my dog sounding like a monkey, when I post an “alien video about a millipede,” these are all facets of me.  

 

Gordon and I actually have something in the works that we talked about the other evening.  It’s been something that’s been thrown to us for the past year, and we’re going to put it in motion.  And we sat at dinner the other night – for two hours – just taking notes on this next venture we’re going to do and put out there.  And like I said; we’re always thinking.  It’s one of the reasons we work so well together.

 

So, in terms of “cutting through the clutter,” as long as we’re in the game, it’s all good.   

JP:  What’s your favorite thing about working with Gordon?

 

RR:  He’s great.  And he didn’t tell me to say that (laughs).  But all joking aside, he really is a great person to work with.  He is somebody that you can go to and say; ‘listen… I have this idea but I’m hesitant about it’ or ‘this thing happened’ and – he’s a reactor.  Like if something bad happens to you, he’s there with you.  And if something good happens, he’s there with you for that too.  And that really makes for something fun, and just, easy.  

 

JP:  What would Gordon say it’s like working with you?

 

RR:  Sometimes unpredictable. But in the best of ways.  Sometimes I’ll sit there and say; ‘oh, I have a brilliant idea, we’re going to do this.  Oh, wait, no, we’re going to do this.  Let’s do this’.  And he says; ‘you’re like a 5 year old’.  And I think that’s his response because I get really excited.  And sometimes we’ve got to reel me back in.  So I think he would say there are times I could be like a child; in both good and bad ways (laughs).  The good way because I’m enthusiastic and the bad way because I kind of want my way.  But I also think he would say that it’s rewarding because we can get on stage together, and we can look at each other and know… there’s just this feeling of real support and love for what we’re doing.  So I think that he would say that it’s a treat because we have each other’s’ backs.  And like I said, we know what we’re doing is good. 

 

JP:  Tell me how you finally got to that point where you both said, ‘we’ve got something here, let’s make this official’?

 

RR:  We first met in 2011 after a show I did at The Saint.  And whenever I meet someone who has that Nashville connection I get excited; ‘I lived in Hillsboro Village, where did you live? Did you ever go to Fido?  I went to Browns.  Did you ever go there?’  It was just some back and forth and that was it.  We said good-bye and I never saw him again.  Never communicated with him.  I don’t even think there was a Facebook comment or message.

 

 

Right after Sandy, Marc Ribler put together a benefit concert; Restore the Shore at the Strand Theatre.  He had asked Gordon to be part of the show and he’d asked me as well.  And I guess Gordon remembered; ‘hey, well that’s the girl that does country’.  So he said to Marc  – he didn’t even ask me directly – he asked Marc; ‘can you ask that girl Reagan Richards if she wants to do a country song?’  So Marc texted me and I said; ‘yeah, let’s do a song’.  I picked a Willie Nelson song.  As it turned out the show had to be shortened quite a bit and Marc had to cut the song.  I remember I was so excited we were going to do the song and unfortunately – Marc was so great about it – but the show just had to be shorter.  And I remember going to soundcheck and officially seeing Gordon, and I was like; ‘hey, we’re not going to get to do the song’.  And I think he could see that look in my face where I was disappointed.  And he said; ‘well we’ll play it backstage, and it’ll be great’.  In the end Marc ended putting us both on “The Weight”.  I sang a verse and Gordon sang a verse, and that was the first song we ever performed together.  And the rest is history.

JP:  Or the future.

 

RR:  Or the future, right.

 

JP:  Being Jersey is known for such a signature sound, was there any hesitation introducing a new genre into this particular musical community?

 

RR:  No.  I know I didn’t think twice about it and I don’t think Gordon hesitated either.  What’s great, especially about Gordon too, is we tell stories.  And I think no matter where you’re coming from and no matter what the sound is; if you’re telling a story and doing it well then anything can happen.  

 

When you see the people who come to our shows – and I think there are some people who have come to every single one of them – they’re singing our songs back to us.  And that’s just so great.  And I don’t think they’re thinking; ‘I’m listening to country right now’.  They’re just listening to music.  They’re listening to two people tell a story they connect with.  Country music versus the Jersey sound; it doesn’t seem to matter.  They just know they like what they hear.  And we’re so grateful for that.

JP:  What is it about Country Music that you love the most?

 

RR:  The singers.  The emotion.  It goes back again to feeling what they were singing.  I can’t get enough, and I can’t say enough – I mean, if anyone wants a really good and quick history of Female Country Singers – listen to the Patsy Cline box set.  If you listen to that, and you don’t feel anything, I really don’t know what to say.  It’s just – it makes you feel good, it makes you feel pain, it makes you just feel.  You can sing along to, most importantly, relate to it. 

 

For example, I mentioned briefly that Gordon and I come from – kind of – different styles of writing.  I have a really heavy background in old country.  And not to say that he doesn’t – but he’s really on board with the modern, he really appreciates the modern.  So when we wrote this record, I would pull from some of the traditional.  There is a song on our upcoming record; “What Did You Get Yourself Into,” that is very reminiscent of Dolly Parton – which I didn’t even realize until Gordon said; ‘you sound like Dolly on this’. 

 

When we performed it in Nashville, at a Writer’s Night last year, there was a publisher in the audience and I noticed they were watching closely.  I felt their eyes on us.  And I could see, they were pulling out their phones, I could see they were recording.  As it turns out it was, Larry Sheridan and Robin Ruddy – they have Parlor Music in Nashville, an amazing  studio and they’re just fabulous writers.  They said to me, and I thought it was such a compliment; ‘what are the lines in “What Did You Get Yourself Into” about the baby spitting up the peas?’.  Then they asked me if I was a mother.  I said no.  They replied;  ‘you’d never know it.  You sang that song from that place’.  That was a great compliment to me because that told me I’m not just singing a song.  I’m telling a story.  And I’m telling a story that connects.

 

JP:   You touched on something there… I’m thinking early The Who.  And I’m thinking about Townshend writing “Tommy” from a child’s perspective, as if to tell a story to a child.  And Daltry getting up there with this Motown “slash” rock ’n’ roll delivery.  As a songwriter, singer and performer would it absolutely drive you crazy, if you wrote a song, and you didn’t have what it takes to get up there and perform it?  Get up there and tell the story in the way you want it told?  Would it drive you crazy if you wrote this song, this story, but didn’t have control over its delivery?

 

RR:  It probably would.  Yes.  If I wrote a song, I would be sure I had it “together enough” to perform it the best I could.  Get the most out of it.  I get a real high off of presentation.

 

JP:  Well, even with the best preparation unexpected things can happen up there.  How do you handle that?

 

RR:  Most recently it was at The Paramount show.  We wrote a song called “Daddy’s Arms” with Joe Grushecky.  And I think when we wrote it, and Gordon was very well aware at the fact it was heavy – and I guess I did too, but I somehow disconnected myself from it.  I just wanted to write a great song.  Plus, with Grushecky on it, you damn well want it to be a great song.  So I was in it, but I guess I wasn’t really “in it.”  

 

The song is about what happens between a girl and her Dad.  He dies in the end.   We performed it, for the first time, in Red Bank, at a private show.  It was the very first time we did it and there were a lot of elements that were maybe making me - I’d say - disconnect from it.  It was a really warm night in a small room with no A/C.  Since it was the first time I was very focused on remembering the music and lyrics.  There was just so much going on around me, and us.  The next time we performed it was at The Saint.  Joe Grushecky invited us to perform the song with him at his show.  As we sang, and we got to the part where the song talks about a Father lying in a steel bed with a cloth around his head, I felt myself going down.  And I thought; ‘I can’t. I can’t.  We have Joe Grushecky here, we have never performed this song with him.  There are all these people in here – a sold out crowd – get it together. Get it together.’  I remember saying to Gordon afterwards; ‘of all times for me to connect with that song, there it is!’ He’s like; ‘it’s ok.  It’s ok’.  

 

 

The week of The Paramount show was the Anniversary of my Dad’s death.  It was such a long, drawn out week.  A week ending with Father’s Day.  So the week of the show Gordon and I were rehearsing the song in his kitchen and I just cried and cried.  And he said; ‘it’s ok.  Get it out.’  So we got to that song during the show at the Paramount – and it’s usually only that part, it’s only that part – but when we started, I felt it right away.  And I thought; ‘I don’t know how I’m going to get through this’.   Not to mention my Mom is in the front row.  My sister is in the front row.  My cousin is in the front row.  I knew it was happening.  And it did.  And it was one of those moments that, again, we’re human, it happens, but that was a raw moment.  It was a moment I had no control over.  I tried to get it together but I felt the rest of the song was a mess after that.  Listen, everybody has a parent, or a relative, or a friend, or a child – somebody who’s passed away.  And it hit me.  It just happened to hit me during the show with over a couple hundred people watching.

 

JP:  You’re failing to mention that you got through it and you received a standing ovation.  And I don’t think it was only because you got through it.  I think it’s because it was performed beautifully.  Do you find a cathartic release after something like that?  Is there any kind of therapeutic “pro”? 

 

RR:  Absolutely.  I am one of those people that the song “No Umbrella” is perfect for.  Because I always want  – for lack of a better word – to feel pain.  I invite it.  I’ll sit and watch home videos – of my Dad.  And there are people who will say; ‘I don’t want to see that’.  But I will go and look in the closet at his old clothes.  Some may say that’s not a healthy thing to do, but for me, it works.  So getting through that song, singing it, having that moment… yeah, it’s definitely therapeutic.

JP:  We’ve spoken about writing and performing from a place of pain.  We’ve spoken about your influences that come from such an emotive place.  But I imagine sometimes being on stage is just plain fun.

 

RR:  Absolutely.  And One Night with Reagan Richards is going to be one of those times.  It will be a night where you can really let your hair down. This is full on, full on.  I mean, if we could do pyrotechnics we would.  Balls to the wall.  Material that’s going to be like; ‘You doing that?’.  

 

And the band!  The band is so excited about it because these are some songs that as kids they loved listening to.  And now they’re going to get to play them out.  It’s going to be amazing to have all the guys from Highway 9 back together for an appearance; Peter Sherer, Rob Tanico, David Halpern, Kevin Ansell – and of course, my partner, Gordon Brown.  And we have Ralph Notaro on guitar.  Arne Wendt on keys.  And my girl Emily Grove on backing vocals.  We also have a guitarist, who goes by the name of Snap, who will be joining us on a lot of songs.  Plus, you know I work with an incredible group of talented people, so there are going to be some surprise guests.

JP:  We’ve spoken about writing and performing from a place of pain.  We’ve spoken about your influences that come from such an emotive place.  But I imagine sometimes being on stage is just plain fun.

 

RR:  Absolutely.  And One Night with Reagan Richards is going to be one of those times.  It will be a night where you can really let your hair down. This is full on, full on.  I mean, if we could do pyrotechnics we would.  Balls to the wall.  Material that’s going to be like; ‘You doing that?’.  

 

And the band!  The band is so excited about it because these are some songs that as kids they loved listening to.  And now they’re going to get to play them out.  It’s going to be amazing to have all the guys from Highway 9 back together for an appearance; Peter Sherer, Rob Tanico, David Halpern, Kevin Ansell – and of course, my partner, Gordon Brown.  And we have Ralph Notaro on guitar.  Arne Wendt on keys.  And my girl Emily Grove on backing vocals.  We also have a guitarist, who goes by the name of Snap, who will be joining us on a lot of songs.  Plus, you know I work with an incredible group of talented people, so there are going to be some surprise guests.

It’s going to be a night of high energy.  I mean, songs from so many beyond your Country staples – KISS, Nirvana, Madonna, Aerosmith...  What is great about Aerosmith is – sure Steven Tyler, an amazing frontman, and the flamboyance – but really, what is great, is the two of them together.  Tyler and Perry.  And that’s why Gordon and I really channel them when we do the Aerosmith stuff. We’re going old school too.  I feel like Steven and he’s Joe at that moment.  

 

JP:  It’s interesting that you’re talking about channeling again.  Becoming the vehicle for another artist’s work.  Some of the bands you’ve mentioned – I mean Cobain’s rough and raspy vocal style – how do you achieve that?

 

RR:  God, Kurt.   Kurt’s voice was just, he would crack, but it sounded great.  His emotion, his pain was tattooed on him.  I mean, Kurt is a study.  I’ve listened to their records and one of my favorites is “Unplugged, Live in New York.”  I’d listen to it back-and-forth and back-and-forth.  When you listen to

 

him sing, and it goes back again to the emotion, he wasn’t a great singer. He wasn’t.  But that’s what made it great.  And so you sit and you think; ‘what was it about him that made people make him a superstar?’.  It was Kurt being Kurt. That’s what made him a superstar. 

 

So when I sing Kurt, again – talk about moments – I think about that Unplugged show, and how he died shortly after.  I think about what he must have been feeling.  I really think a lot about him.  When I was singing his song while rehearsing, my mind just went to him sitting in that chair with that sweater on.  And his demeanor.  That wasn’t put on.  That was raw emotion.  And I guess you’ll have to come August 7th to see how I channel Kurt, and work to achieve all of the idiosyncrasies that made him great.  Performing Nirvana at this show will really be a highlight for me.    

 

JP:  So we’ve spoken a lot about the past, we’re talking now about One Night with Reagan Richards, and you’ve told us more about Williams Honor – and the exciting things in your future as a duo.  Where do you spend most of your time?  In the past, in the future, or in the present?

 

RR:  Well, I couldn’t be sitting here today if it weren’t for my past.  And I think the past is what really drives me. Whether it’s me saying; ‘I really learned from that mistake’ or; ‘wow, I’m really glad I did that’, that’s helped me get on stage and do what I do.  Pulling from the past is where I get a lot of what I do. 

 

The present, you have to live in the present – you have to grab hold – or life will just pass you by.  But the future, well, I’m doing this for now and I’m doing this for later.  I mean, longevity truly is a test of good music.  I relish what I’m doing – and Gordon and I are both putting out something that people can enjoy now – and hopefully – forever.  And when I’m 90, I’d like to be pulling out that guitar – just like Les – and still be singing.  Still exercise that passion for what I do.  

 

So I think what’s truly needed is a healthy balance of all three.  

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gordon-brown

 

One Night with Reagan Richards is taking place Friday, August 7th at 8:00pm (doors 6pm) at Tim McLoone’s Supper Club at 1200 Ocean Avenue in Asbury Park.  Tickets are available for purchase at the McLoone’s Supper Club website or by calling the Event Office at (732) 774-1155.  For more information you can also visit the Official Facebook Event Page.  

 

 

The Williams Honor debut album is set for release on September 1, 2015.  You can buy the album online at the Williams Honor Online Store, at area retailers and online at Amazon.com and iTunes.  More information will be available at the Williams Honor Official Website and the Williams Honor Facebook Page.

 

 

RELATED: One Afternoon with Reagan Richards Part 1

RELATED: Connecting and Reconnecting with Gordon Brown

 

 About the Author

 

Jennifer Pricci, a Jersey Shore music enthusiast, has been a contributing writer covering area musicians for many Jersey-based music and entertainment publications; including Night & Day, Chorus & Verse and New Jersey Stage.  Her work has also appeared in the Asbury Park Press and New York Daily News.  A self-admitted name-dropper, Jennifer’s articles tend to cover those she holds in high esteem -- with a goal of paying homage to local talent in addition to enticing and educating readers.  For this reason you’ll rarely find a negative review written by Jennifer; as her passions tend to undermine her smarts.  Which she knows has both pros and cons.

 

On the performance side, Jennifer has appeared as part of a barbershop quartet at Carnegie Hall, The Alamodome in San Antonio, the Superdome in New Orleans. The Times Union Center (formerly Pepsi Arena) in Albany  and more.    

 

Jennifer Pricci is a Marketing Professional with 15 years of broad-based experience combining both brand and agency side successes; perhaps most notably driving the campaign that secured sponsorship for ClearChannel’s iHeartRadio Theater Presented By P.C. Richard & Son in New York City.  In 1999 Jennifer founded her own marketing agency; PHANTOM POWER, a fully integrated marketing firm serving the needs of local musicians and small and mid-sized businesses throughout the Tri-State.

 

#SharpNotes is a PHANTOM POWER Marketing online publication.

 

For more information about Jennifer Pricci and PHANTOM POWER Marketing visit www.phantompowermarketing.com