Guitarist Matt Richards has caused his share of 'reverse identity crises' when listeners attempt to explain his music in a sound byte. He effortlessly bridges musical styles with his genre-stretching solo acoustic work, his not-so-traditional straight-ahead jazz group and his uniquely focused instrumental duos. In his words: “It's always about the
Born and raised in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, Matt grew up in the culturally fertile cross-currents of the late 1960s. His musical pathway opens in the mix of folk, rock and psychedelic music that defined that decade and eventually guides him into the hyperactive jazz-fusion of the 1970s. Initially a self-taught player, Matt began earnestly
developing the technically advanced musical abilities necessary to be part of that highly-energized genre. (During his tenure with the progressive rock group New Light, Matt was dubbed ‘the most originally creative guitarist on the regional scene’ by the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin.) As his musicianship developed, he discovered straight-ahead jazz and classical music and began relying more on the acoustic guitar. He assimilated Spanish, Latin American and various world influences while developing his unique fingerstyle approach to solo guitar.
He has been featured as a solo artist on a variety of televised programs, including Miles of Music and Puerto Rican Panorama and performed on-screen in the independent film Smoke And Mirrors. He has performed at the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Frankford Arts Festival, the NAMM Winter and Summer shows, the Montreal Guitar Show, the Naturist Society’s Eastern and Midwestern Gatherings, Daniel Pearl Music Days and SUNOCO Welcome America celebrations. Matt has performed in duets with guitarists Larry Coryell, Tony Hughes, Jim Goodin and Emiliano Pardo, flutist Katherine Barbato and bassist Bill Zola. He is also a founding member of the acoustic guitar trio Language of 3.
Matt has worked with a range of established artists, including Mike Clark, Starr Cullars, Joey DeFrancesco, Café del Silva, Kenwood Dennard, Essra Mohawk, Herbie Nix, Steve Oliver, Marlon Simon, Adrian Valosin, Elio Villafranca, and Bobby Zankel. He has played in support for artists such as Peppino D'Agostino, Paco Pena, Richie Havens and Dave Mason. Vocalist Paul Middleton and songwriter/vocalist Nate Hawk feature Matt’s electric playing on their commercial releases.
The Matt Richards Group features Matt on guitars and fretless glissentar, Adrian Valosin/ Kenwood Dennard/ Jeff Cosgrove on drums and Steve Beskrone/ Bill Zola on bass. (Members perform based on availability.)
A current faculty member at Cheltenham Art & Music Center and the Ambler Music Academy, Matt has served as Head of Faculty at the FrankfordStyle School for Creative Arts and Music Program Director for Zanaras Music Stores. He and all Group members frequently conduct clinics and master classes in conjunction with performances.
Since 2000, Matt has released five solo CDs: In This Single Moment, Dayside, One In Mind, Trio and As You Are, all on his FingerMusic label. A limited-release recording with drummer Adrian Valosin and bassist Chris Lough, Restaurant Music, is currently available only at performances.