Richard Buckner
Richard Buckner
Label: Merge Records
Genre: Rock / Folk
Online: Artist Website


This husky-voiced country-folk singer/songwriter is very much in the mold of the Lubbock, TX, school of mavericks, including Butch Hancock, Terry Allen, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Richard Buckner is actually based in San Francisco, but the Lubbock connection is no accident. His debut album, Bloomed, was recorded in Lubbock, for one thing, with producer Lloyd Maines, who has also worked with Hancock, Allen, Joe Ely, and Uncle Tupelo. Maines himself plays several instruments on the record, and Buckner's band is fleshed out with several other Texas musicians, including Hancock (who adds a harmonica cameo) and accordion player Ponty Bone.

Buckner's principal following, however, is not with the country audience, but the alternative rock one. Like Allen and Hancock, the guitarist's work is based in rootsy country traditions, but his lyrics are far too personal and ambitious for those who think of country music as virtually synonymous with Nashville. So, like those Lubbock musicians, he tends to appeal to open-minded rock fans, or adventurous general music fans, more than country ones. The alternative rock thread has been strengthened by Buckner's leadership of a San Francisco country-rock band, the Doubters (who do not appear on his album), and a support slot on a Son Volt tour in early 1996.

Appearing on a small Texas independent label, his album won good critical notices, and his signing to a major company for 1997's acclaimed Devotion + Doubt seemed to signal that both rock and country listeners would be much more widely exposed to him in the future. Since followed in 1998 and The Hill, an interpretation of Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology, was issued two years later. Recorded at his home studio in Canada, 2002's Impasse was next, and was his first CD of all original music in over four years. The next year, Buckner returned with a self-titled release, a divine set of songs that was limited to 2,000 pressings and previously available only as a tour item.