Local musician Terry Rickard is kind of like Durango’s jukebox.
If you’ve bellied up to the bar in any Durango watering holes over the last 25 years, you’ve likely seen Rickard with his acoustic guitar, performing one of hundreds of tunes he knows from the great rock ’n’ roll songbook. You may have heard him covering Eric Clapton or Bob Marley, or perhaps something more obscure like Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street.” Perhaps you’ve seen his band The Chills, a country outfit he formed solely to book more gigs for the country music crowd. No matter what venue or what band, Rickard has been a constant and reliable presence in Durango’s music scene, the kind of dude who always keeps an ear to piped in supermarket music or film soundtracks to add to his vast musical catalog.
Rickard can be seen at numerous local venues this summer, performing Tuesday nights in the Diamond Belle Saloon, Wednesday nights in The Office Spiritorium or other nights at Derailed Pour House, 11th Street Station or at venues in Pagosa Springs.
Like a jukebox, the repertoire is always growing.
“I was just watching a film remake of ‘The Mod Squad,’ the worst movie ever made except for ‘Wonder Woman 1984,’” Rickard said. “They had a version of an old Blind Faith tune on there, and I said, ‘Man, that’s a great version of that.’ So I learned it and started playing it this last week.”
Rickard’s career in music dates back to when he was a kid. It’s a familiar story: Rickard’s older brother was learning guitar, so he wanted to learn guitar.
“I think the first song he showed me was ‘Louie Louie,’” Rickard said.
Rickard spent his high school and college years playing electric guitar in garage bands around New England before one of his regular venues decided to go acoustic. So did he. Forward to 1978, and Rickard went to Southern California to avoid another New England winter, and that trip turned into a 14-year stay, and also set him up for being the solo performer he is today.
“I got to California I didn’t know anybody; I brought the acoustic and started playing open mic nights and that’s how I got into playing solo gigs,” he said.
In 1992, Rickard was priced out of Southern California because he saw no reason to live in SoCal if he couldn’t live by the beach, so he ended up in Durango. With a degree in golf course management, he landed a job at Dalton Ranch that he held for three years, which is the time it took for him to get set up musically. He’s been performing solo ever since.
While he’s primarily performed solo, he has kept some band activity. There’s the aforementioned Chills, a band he says is “kind of still together.” There’s was also his old rock band Studio 3. While he digs on the whole band vibe, what he doesn’t dig on is the politics of being a band leader, boss and, essentially, a business owner.
“I love playing in bands, there’s so much more energy. You’re interacting with guys, and I’ve had the opportunity to play with some really great guys,” Rickard said. “But doing the solo thing, there’s none of the arguments. Nobody ever walks off stage or gets pissed off.”
So Rickard will stick with the solo gig, crooning familiar songs and digging up musical blasts from the past, a human jukebox with a rock ’n’ roll radio playlist in his head.
“It’s like any other job; you have good nights, you have bad nights,” he said. “But when it’s good it’s just great, if you’ve got the right crowd and they’re liking what you do and you’re liking them, it’s great.”
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at [email protected]