Acoustic blues and roots music are riding a resurgent wave of popularity and many musicians have taken up traditional instruments, such as the lap steel guitar. There are, however, remarkably few artists featuring that instrument. Richard Henderson is one of those few. And with his characteristic edgy style based on the traditions of the blues, country and rock and roll, the results are compelling: Richard was named Instrumentalist of the Year by the Durham Region Music Society and First Runner Up in The Toronto Blues Society’s Talent Search. He has earned showcases at the International Blues Summit, the Folk Music Ontario Conference, Ontario Contact and for Mariposa and Winterfolk Festivals. Maverick, the UK’s leading independent roots music magazine, describes “Seventh Day”, Richard’s CD, as “Excellent! On the cutting edge of country and blues”, and featured one of his original songs on a covermount CD.
The acoustic lap steel guitar is an interesting and uncommon instrument. It was developed in Hawaii in the 19th century and is the direct ancestor of both the dobro, played in traditional Americana music, and the pedal steel guitar, so characteristic of American country music. It was also instrumental in the development of the slide guitar blues styles played in the southern United States beginning in the early 20th century. As a result, Richard’s performances, which feature the acoustic lap steel guitar together with any combination of electric guitar, bass and percussion, give a unique perspective on the continuing evolution of acoustic roots music. The distinctive slide of the lap steel weaving through an eclectic mix of blues, roots, and vintage rock and roll is an unusual musical twist that audiences really enjoy. The result, while evocative of blues and folk traditions, is transformational: leading to a vibrant reconstruction of roots music.
Richard performs about 100 shows each year in Ontario and into Quebec at clubs and at festivals such as Mariposa, the Tim Horton’s Southside Shuffle, the Orangeville Blues Festival, the Kincardine Lighthouse Blues Festival, Durham West Blues Fest, the Trius Winery Blues Festival, the Carmel Fine Art and Music Festival, the Hudson Music Festival, Winterfolk Festival, and the Marshville Heritage Festival.