"If you're accustomed to thinking, as I sometimes am, that nothing new can ever stand up to the best things that were done in the past, it is exhilarating to encounter present-day work that is comfortably on a par with the classics we love. Richard Brandenburg's work is that good, and I hope you'll seek out his CD and live performances." - John Miller

Richard’s interests in traditional country music began in St Charles, MO in 1970, when musicians in a local acoustic country band encouraged him to learn guitar and start singing.

In 1977, Richard’s introduction to the Bay Area bluegrass jamming community drew him into a wider circle of musicians and spurred his interest in performing and songwriting. Over the years, he has performed on the stages of the Strawberry Music Festival, Berkeley’s traditional music venue the Freight and Salvage, and San Francisco’s famed Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.

In 2010 Richard recorded Flickering Dreams, an album of traditionally based original songs which features Kathy Kallick on guitar and vocal harmony, John Reischman on mandolin, Tony Marcus on fiddle, and Matt Dudman on bass. Three songs from that album have been recorded by other artists. Flickering Dreams can be purchased on CD Baby or streamed on Apple Music. Richard is nearing completion of another album of original material.

As a harmony singer, he has sung on a wide variety of recording projects. He has also produced other artists’ albums. Richard leads a weekly bluegrass and country music jam at the Freight and Salvage and also teaches vocal technique, rhythm guitar and country repertoire there. Richard has also taught classes and workshops at California Coast Music Camp, Walker Creek Music Camp, the California Bluegrass Association Music Camp, and Puget Sound Guitar Workshop.

In 2018, Richard released Weepers, Sleepers & Keepers Volume 1, a songbook of 25 of his favorite songs he's brought to stages, jams and classes over the years. The book includes lyrics, chords and a recording of Richard performing each song.

Classes & Jams

I am currently teaching two regular classes at The Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, CA as part of their ongoing class schedule.

In Expanding Your Country/Bluegrass Repertoire, we examine some of the roots and branches of the great tree that grows from the Carter family and the Hollywood cowboys through Hank, early bluegrass, Nashville, and Bakersfield. Have fun exploring the possibilities of expressing yourself with this great music! We’ll familiarize ourselves with the way the songs go, and get a sense of where they’ve come from. Links will be provided so that you can hear the earliest versions how the songs have evolved, and the ways the songs are currently played.

In Flatpicking Fundamentals, I'll be showing you the basics of country/folk guitar rhythm playing and how to get the best tone with a flatpick. If you'd like to break out of general strumming into a simple, effective flat-picking style that supports your vocals and sounds good in groups and jams, this is a great place to begin. Prerequisite is being comfortable playing the first position "cowboy" chords.

Two Sundays a month, I lead a regular jam at The Freight & Salvage covering slow bluegrass and country songs. If you've wanted to try jamming but are looking for a safe space to get your feet wet, come out from 1pm-4pm and join us! Check The Freight & Salvage website each month for dates.

In addition to classes and jams at The Freight, I host two weekly jam workshops in Bernal Heights and teach private lessons in rhythm guitar, singing and songwriting. To inquire about jam workshops or sign up for a lesson, please use the contact form on this website to get in touch.

Past Events

Previously, I have taught a class in Bluegrass Songcraft class at California Bluegrass Association Music Camp, where we listened to samples of traditional and contemporary bluegrass music, looked at its various styles and forms, and explored how those styles and forms can inform contemporary bluegrass songwriters in use traditional forms to speak in a way that is authentic, current, and meaningful.

At Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, I've taught my flatpicking guitar class as "Holding Down the Flatpicking Fort" , where we dug into the basics of the boom-chuck rhythm, and learned cool, easy walkups and walk-downs among the Noble Cowboy Chords. Then we added the vastly underrated capo and explored great ways to contribute to groups and jams.

I've also taught my class called Singing From Inside The Song - a popular vernacular vocal workshop in singing Folk, Country and Bluegrass songs with more confidence and pleasure, deepening your experience of putting melody and lyrics together with the voice that you already have and how to better inhabit the singer's role.

At California Coast Music Camp, (2013) I've also taught these classes as "Country Repertoire" and "Rhythm and Backup Fluency", as well as a songwriting workshop called "Opening Up Your Songwriting". (2012)

Listen & Learn

Weepers, Sleepers & Keepers Volume 1 is out now! This is a collection of 25 songs which both captivate listeners and are simply a joy to sing. The songbook includes lyrics, chords, and a CD and link to a digital download with a recording of each song. In each recording, I am playing rhythm guitar with bass runs and simple fills to accompany my own vocals. I have kept the arrangements minimal, without kick-offs or instrumental breaks, simply to present the song as a song so that you can learn it.

Traditionally, folk songs were learned by ear without the filter of notation or tablature, and I consider learning by ear still the best way to form a relationship with these simple songs. Something different happens when people are open to learning this way, something social, something relational, something more elementally human. It’s a deeper kind of learning where the song becomes your own.

If you'd like to get a copy of Weepers, Sleepers & Keepers Volume 1, send an e-mail for ordering information.


Check back soon!

Let's Socialize

You can follow me online on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with the latest performances, classes or jam opportunities.

Join me June 9th-12 for the 2019 California Bluegrass Association Music Camp and let's take a deep dive into writing bluegrass songs. If you're currently writing or would like to be, this class will be an inspiring look at what's worked throughout history and what can work for you too.

I will teaching at Puget Sound Guitar Workshop this year from August 3rd - 9th, with concentrations in singing and flatpicking rhythm technique.

I am available for venue performances or house concerts around the San Francisco Bay Area, or beyond. Please inquire if you're organizing an event and would like me to perform.

Send an Email



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