About

"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

On June 9th-12th I'll be teaching a songwriting class at the California Bluegrass Association Music Camp:

Are you writing bluegrass songs, or would you like to be? Do you think about what it means to write bluegrass music in 2019, and how you could do it even better than you’re doing it now? In this class we’ll create a safe, thoughtful environment in which to answer these questions and develop your skills as a songwriter.

We’ll listen to samples of traditional and contemporary bluegrass music, look at its various styles and forms, and explore how those styles and forms can inform your own songwriting. We'll discuss what makes a bluegrass song good or not so good and what song elements you can use to best convey your ideas. And we’ll share strategies for moving from ideas to complete songs. We’ll also reflect on how contemporary bluegrass songwriters can use traditional forms and speak in a way that is authentic, current, and meaningful.

This class is a fine opportunity to meet other folks at camp who are writing within bluegrass styes and tradition and to engage together in meaningful conversations about what makes for a great bluegrass song! Click HERE to learn more.


I will be joining this year's Puget Sound Guitar Workshop Session 2 from August 3rd-9th to teach two courses for guitar and vocals:

Holding down the Flatpicking Fort - We’ll dig into the basics of the boom-chuck rhythm, and then learn cool, easy walkups and walk-downs among the Noble Cowboy Chords. Add the vastly underrated capo, your solo singing, and you’ll find new ways to contribute to groups and jams.

Singing From Inside The Song - Attentive, thoughtful group and individual coaching to help you sing Folk, Country and Bluegrass with more confidence and pleasure, deepening your experience of putting melody and lyrics together with the voice that you already have!

To learn more about PSGW and register, click HERE.


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

"Flatpicking Fundamentals" shows 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. In "Singing from Inside the Song" I show students how to go from simply singing songs to truly understanding and performing their very meaning, by internalizing lyrics and getting in touch with the voice you have, ready to be used.

Most Sundays, 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!

In addition to classes and jams at The Freight, I host a weekly jam Tuesday nights in Bernal Heights from 7-9pm and teach private lessons in rhythm guitar, singing and songwriting. To inquire about the Tuesday jam or sign up for a lesson, please use the contact form on this website to get in touch.

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.

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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