Bonnie Sims and her compatriots were highjacked into forming a band. “A promoter for a rock festival in Taos called our cellist at the last minute and asked her to put together an all-female act,” she said. “They had just said to themselves ‘Oh, shit, these are all dude bands!’ They were afraid they’d be called out for hiring only guys.”
So the band called out the promoters in a different way: they rejected the festival’s name for them, The Women of Bluegrass, and called themselves Big Richard. “We wanted to very deliberately turn the tables and lampoon all of those female-objectifier names of dude groups like Bare Naked Ladies and Cherry Poppin’ Daddies.” The band also works humorous references to the name into their act, which is for adults only.
Sims (mandolin, guitar), Joy Adams (cello), Eve Panning (fiddle) and Emma Rose (upright bass, guitar) characterize their music as “Old-time Thrash”; Sims says “It’s fun for stoners.” Their close harmonies and subject matter, however, head straight for bluegrass. Well, maybe not straight there. “We’re stepping out of that box,” said Sims. “[For example], we have a cello instead of a guitar. We sometimes call ourselves ‘new acoustic.'” They also call themselves “the founding fathers” of Big Richard.
Whatever they call themselves, you’ll be addicted soon. “The songs are driven by our friendship and humor and we let the audience into those parts of ourselves. We want them to be uplifted and having fun,” she said.
The audience will also be impressed. These Colorado musicians have played with the best: Adams, their cellist, has an impressive bio, having been recorded on the Emmy-award-winning soundtrack to Godless on Netflix, as well as on the Grammy- and Emmy-award-winning soundtrack to The Queen’s Gambit. She has performed with Bruce Hornsby, Barry Manilow, Bobby McFerrin, Chic Corea, Kenny Loggins, Gloria Estefan and many others. Fiddle-player Panning began as a classical artist at age six and was part of her family’s band, FiddleFire, playing guest gigs with symphony orchestras; she also teaches music. Bassist and songwriter Emma Rose has her own band, Sound of Honey, and plays regularly with Daniel Rodriguez and Whippoorwill. Sims herself has had much success with other bands formed with her husband, Taylor (Bonnie & Taylor Sims Band, Everybody Loves An Outlaw, Bonnie & The Clydes).
According to the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Institute report in March on music creators, last year female music artists went from 22.5 percent to 20.2 percent; female songwriters from 14.4 percent to 12.9 percent; and female producers dropped from 5 percent to 2 percent.
May 14, 7:30 pm, Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery. Tickets cost $20 in advance, $25 day of show (including all service charges). They are also available by phone through Hold My Ticket at 505-886-1251. Tumbleroot is a mostly-standing-room venue.
May 15, 4 pm, Taos Center for the Arts. Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 the day of the show. tcataos.org/onstage/