Adams State University to award honorary doctorate to Don Richmond

(12-04-2013)

"There's no path to mark our passing, except for what we leave behind."
- No Borders, by Don Richmond

If those lyrics are prophetic, then Don Richmond's legacy will attest to his talent, creativity, and generosity. In recognition and appreciation of his work as "the strongest driving force for live music in this area," Adams State University is awarding Richmond an Honorary Doctorate in Music at its upcoming fall commencement ceremony.

The ceremony begins at 10 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 14, in Plachy Hall. Adams State will award 145 degrees, including 107 bachelor's degrees and 38 associate degrees. Adams State Trustee Charles H. Scoggin, M.D. will give the commencement address.

Don Richmond (left) and his band, the Rifters, perform at a benefit for the Rio Grande Headwaters Trust (RIGHT.)

Richmond was nominated for the honor by Emeritus Professor of Chemistry, Dr. Kay O. Watkins, and Adams State alumnus Dr. David E. Clemmer, who is the Robert and Marjorie Mann Chair, Professor of Chemistry, and Assoc. Dean for Natural and Mathematical Sciences for the College of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington.

"Because of Don, people in the San Luis Valley and Northern New Mexico have access to much more high quality live music than otherwise would be possible," they wrote. "What has kept him in the San Luis Valley is his desire to record the music of this area."

Richmond has captured the sounds of others and himself on more than 100 albums that have been recorded at his studio, Howlin' Dog Records. He and his wife, Dr. Teri McCartney, ASU professor of counselor education, were founding members of the Alamosa Live Music Association (ALMA.) They also created the San Luis Valley Cancer Relief Society. Don treasures community, and has played benefits for and served on the boards of local non-profit organizations.

Richmond  has been making his living playing and producing music in the Colorado - New Mexico area since 1970. He is a multi-instrumental musician and singer-songwriter, performing on guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, pedal steel guitar, dobro, harmonica, accordion, and trumpet. For 17 years, Richmond was a member of the Colorado band Tumbleweed, which achieved a strong and devoted following around the region. Richmond went on to play with the Rock Bottom Band, Hired Hands, and his current group, the Rifters. Additionally, he performs as a solo act and has recorded six solo CDs.

He also composed and recorded musical soundtracks for three documentary films seen nationally and internationally. He has been Artist in Residence and Aesthetic Institute Instructor with the Colorado Council on the Arts. His book, Getting Your Music Past the Fear, deals with the psychology of creativity and performance.

"Don is a masterful teacher," said Clemmer, who studied and recorded with Richmond, and values his example on how to life an artful life. "As Don's client, I have gained considerable insight about him . . . I have come to understand how truly rare he is. Brilliant may be an understatement. . . . He simply can play anything, 'at least enough to record,' as he describes it. Other musicians describe it as a gift - near virtuosity on many instruments."

Richmond's friends and admirers recently created a scholarship for Adams State music majors in his name through a $10,000 endowment. This is the second scholarship to benefit ASU music students in the name of a Richmond musician. McCartney initiated the Richmond Scholarship for Vocal Music Students in memory of Don's father, Ed Richmond, who was a 20-year vocal instructor at Adams State. The Music Department subsequently named its new recording studio in honor of the elder Richmond.

By Julie Waechter