Musician Rick Devin, who spent more than a decade in Summit County, has released a new album
Rick Devin got his first guitar at age 9 as a Christmas gift. It was the first time his fingers had ever strummed strings. He didn’t know it then, but it was the start of a long musical path that would follow him from his Massachusetts home, through the West and eventually around the world and would lead to collaborations with dozens of famous musicians, from country music group The Dixie Chicks to Chris Pitman, of Guns ‘N Roses.
Heading east to west
Devin took one lesson after he got his guitar, but most of his ability is self-taught.
“I have an ear for music, so I can just listen to the radio and play the song right after I hear it,” he said, “so it’s been kind of the same thing with bass guitar, piano. I’ve been able to teach myself over the years.”
In addition to playing guitar and singing, Devin plays piano, keyboards and percussion.
He started off playing covers of popular bands from the ’60s and ’70s and claims music ranging from The Beatles, Elvis Presley and Jonny Cash to the next decade’s Lynyrd Skynyrd, Joe Walsh and The Eagles as his influences.
He started his first band, The 3 D’s, at 10 years old and was involved with his school’s band, for which he played electric guitar.
“My first onstage show was in 1972,” he recalled, playing The Animals’ version of “House of the Rising Sun.” “I had bought a Fender Stratocaster and Fender amp with some money I had earned from a paper route. … It was my first onstage experience, and I loved it. It was incredible.”
Eventually, Devin left the East Coast, working his way west and learning the ways of the modern cowboy. He spent time in British Columbia and the Tahoe area before landing in Colorado.
“My first time I went to Summit County was in the summer of 1979,” Devin said. He climbed Grays and Torreys peaks and camped on Dillon Reservoir. “I fell in love with the area. I didn’t know then I was going to move there.”
The life of a cowboy minstrel
While traveling through the west, Devin spent time working within the ski industry in the winter and as a cowboy in the summer. And always, he performed his music. He picked up a cowboy, country style for many performances, but he could always fall back on his favorites from the ’60s and ’70s.
In 1990, he made the move to Summit County, and four years later, his music gigs filled up his schedule so much that he took them over full time.
Devin’s musical repertoire stretched from his beloved ’60s and ’70s music played at clubs and private events to his Western-style songs for hay and sleigh rides in Breckenridge, Copper, Keystone and Silverthorne. Devin estimates that he performed about 300 shows a year, including more than 600 shows for Copper Mountain’s Sleigh-Ride Dinners.
Devin likes to call himself a “cowboy minstrel,” as his sleigh ride and hayride performances were family-oriented and Western-themed, although he couldn’t quite help himself from dropping in a Beatles song or Jimmy Buffet number from time to time.
Devin became part of a band that called itself The Eagle River Band because his fellow members lived in Glenwood Springs, while he lived in Summit County, requiring them to travel through the Eagle River Valley to get together for practice.
He also participated in Michael Martin Murphey’s annual WestFest from 1996 to 2001. In 2001, Devin teamed up with Murphey to found the Singing Cowboy Ranch in Nathrop. The ranch featured hayride dinners, horseback rides and entertainment around the campfire.
Going old school
Devin’s latest endeavors have been focused on recording his ninth full-length solo album. Titled “Old School 2: Rock Hits of the ’60s and ’70s,” the album follows “Old School: Hits of the ’60s and ’70s,” with a focus on rock ’n’ roll.
“It was definitely the biggest collaborative adventure I’ve ever been on,” he said of his latest CD, which was recorded in nine different recording studios on three separate continents.
The idea came about while chatting over dinner with Guns ‘N Roses keyboardist Chris Pitman.
“We’d never recorded anything together, and we were sitting here one day for Thanksgiving and said, ‘Let’s do it,’” Devin recalled. Also involved with the collaboration were drummer Chet McCracken (Doobie Brothers, Joe Walsh, America, Stevie Nicks), guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (Guns ‘N Roses), guitarist Chris Pinnick (Chicago, Chuck Negron, Herb Alpert) guitarist Philip Donnelly and drummer Stuart Lawrence (Donovan), among others.
“It’s pretty neat to be able to go back full circle, so to speak, and do those songs,” Devin said, of returning to his favorites from the two decades.
Devin hopes the audience will be able to experience these older songs in new ways through his album.
“We’re really excited to be able to introduce these songs that we like from the ’60s and ’70s,” he said. “(The idea was to) re-record it and try to maintain the integrity of the originals. It’s not a new re-make of a song that you knew and now it’s all hip-hop or something. It’s not. It sounds very much like the original. … It’s neat to re-introduce these songs to new generations of listeners today.”
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