February 11, 1938 – May 31, 2015 Remembering David Michael Richey

Remembering David Michael Richey (February 11, 1938 – May 31, 2015), better known as Slim Richey, was an American jazz guitarist, fiddle player, bandleader, and publisher who was known for his long white beard and eclectic guitar style that crossed genres from jazz to swing to country. Slim’s self-proclaimed moniker, “The most dangerous guitar player in Texas” was displayed on the Paramount Theatre Marquee in Austin, Texas, on June 1, 2015, in remembrance to his contribution to Texas music.
Richey ran a number of record labels, most memorable being Ridge Runner Records. Specializing primarily in acoustic music from Texas and Oklahoma, the label produced some groundbreaking projects which are still cherished and studied today. Among those were early records from Sam Bush and Alan Munde (solo and as a team), Country Gazette, Roland White, Buck White, Marty Stuart, Joe Carr, Bill Lister, and others.
In 1977 Slim Richey recorded “Jazz Grass”, an album of mostly bluegrass musicians forsaking their mountain roots to play more harmonically-sophisticated jazz. Richey was featured on guitar. Alan Munde, Bill Keith, and Gerald Jones played banjo; Richard Greene, Ricky Skaggs, and Sam Bush were on fiddle; Joe Carr and Kerby Stewart played mandolin; and Dan Huckabee was on dobro. Tracks included interpretations of jazz standards Stompin’ At The Savoy and Night In Tunisia next to Richey’s originals.
Richey moved to Driftwood, near Austin in 1992 and was a fixture of the local music scene for over 20 years. He often performed at Old Settler’s Music Festival and the Kerrville Folk Festival. He also played at the Django Reinhardt Festival in Fort Worth, Texas, with Slim Richey’s Stray Gypsies. He was known for encouraging Austin’s young musicians, including Kat Edmonson, who was 22 when she met Richey in 2005.
In 2012 he was left unconscious after being hit by an SUV hit-and-run driver.
In 2013 his band Jitterbug Vipers released Phoebes Dream, an album of original tunes written in style of the 1940s jazz swing era, and featuring lyrical references to the 1940’s Hipster jazz scene which historically includes references to marijuana, a legal drug during prohibition.
In 2014 Richey and the Jitterbug Vipers were featured on Michael Feinstein’s NPR show Song Travels.
Richey won Best Electric Guitarist at the 2014 Austin Music Awards.
Richey died of lymphoma on May 31, 2015, in Dripping Springs near Austin, Texas. On Monday June 1, 2015 venues Richey had played, including the Paramount Theatre in Austin and The Kessler in Dallas, displayed remembrances on their Marquees.

About the author

I enjoy researching Bluegrass, Bluegrass Gospel, and Country birthdays, anniversaries and interesting trivia dates. I am a piano/organ performance major who has taught privately and served as church accompanist since 1968 in North Carolina and Central Kentucky. Although classically trained, I appreciate all genres of music. My mother, who was also a church musician and taught public school music grades K-12, knew that Bluegrass music was the purest American music. She always introduced her students to this fine genre and began my musical studies with her at age 2. Bach to Berachah Valley, Mozart to Jimmy Martin, Sibelius to Stanley Brothers, the list goes on, I hope you find some moments of enjoyment and learn a few interesting facts along the way.
I am thankful for the many resources we have at our fingertips including Google. FaceBook and BluegrassBios by Wayne Rice. It was he who inspired me to tackle the task of trying to pass on knowledge about Bluegrass music. Thanks Wayne~!
Lou Ellen Wilkie

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