A native of Huntersville, NC, Rick
began playing banjo seriously at the age of 15 after starting out on the guitar
two years earlier. Being in North Carolina Rick was given the opportunity to be
in the heart of ‘banjo-player land’. He spent time with some of the best
musicians in the area like Bob Shue (banjo player/instrument builder), Dewey
Farmer (mandolin player), Lester Deaton (bass player), Jimmy Bowen (guitar at
that time), and countless others.
In 1980, a year after he graduated
from high school, he joined “Bluegrass Fever”, a Charlotte, NC based group
that went on to win the band competition at Six Flags Over Georgia. They
released one album on the Lamon label entitled “After Dark” an instrumental
that Rick wrote. Next was “The
Grass Strings” from Albemarle, NC. This band introduced Rick to ‘working on
the road’ sort of. They frequented the larger festivals and college circuit
In the late 80’s
Rick made a lateral move into Country Music for a period of about 10 years. He
worked professionally performing on keyboards, guitar and banjo with several
east coast club circuit groups before being asked to join the Old Dominion Opry
in Williamsburg, VA in 1991. This job allowed Rick the ability to perform music
everyday and be home every night – which thrilled his wife and two young sons
to no end. He went through 2 different stints with ‘The Opry’ due to
management changes and finally became their performing Musical Director, writer
and Assistant General Manager until leaving in 1997.
Rick returned to his first love,
Bluegrass, in 1999 when he joined forces with Boston based ‘Southern Rail’.
He has earned quite a few frequent flyer miles as a result of being a member of
this touring group that performs around 50-80 shows a year. Southern Rail’s
gospel recording ‘Glory Train’ was nominated for IBMA’s ‘Gospel
Recording of the Year’ and their latest cd, ‘Coal Tattoo’ has received
excellent reviews from major music publications and trade magazines.
In January of 2005 Rick joined former Country Gentleman, Nashville based "Jimmy Bowen & Santa Fe". Rick had Jimmy had known each other more years ago then either of them care to count and happened across each other at the Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival in Gettysburg, PA in August of 2004. Several months and a few zillion phone calls later Rick was 'commuting' back and forth to Nashville. JB&SF latest release is "Stone Fences". Audio samples can be heard on Santa Fe's website.
Rick has always
enjoyed helping to keep the music alive by teaching the banjo whenever his
schedule permits. He is a staff member at Acutab’s Roanoke Bluegrass Weekend
every November in Roanoke, VA. His
background in the printing industry came in handy when he assisted with the
cover art and photography for the “Team Flathead – The Huber Banjos
Sessions” recording in 2003. This recording was nominated as
IBMA’s ‘Instrumental Recording of the Year’ for 2004. Rick’s personal
banjo was even used on the recording played by both Sammy Shelor and Ron
Rick considers himself lucky in that
his family supports his musical career. He knows that it’s been rough at
times, but they always seem to do just fine. His dad, Jud Briggs was
instrumental in instilling both the values of family and of music into Rick’s
adolescent hardhead. Though his dad never had the chance to perform for a
living, he certainly passed the desire to do so on to Rick.
Whether in a high school ensemble playing sax, playing keys in a country-rock band, or doing what he does best, pickin’ the five, Rick’s love and dedication for music will be the driving force that keeps him performing as long as the good Lord says it’s ok.
2010 Rick Briggs All Rights Reserved