Rick is an accomplished guitarist and vocalist, but he is probably best known as an autoharp player. He taught himself to play the guitar in 1973, listening to John Denver and Leo Kottke records. He took up the autoharp in 1977 after seeing Bryan Bowers play at the Blue River Café, a local Folk Club in Milwaukee.
Not knowing any other autoharp players at the time, Rick began tweaking his 12-bar Oscar Schmidt to try emulating the sound he was hearing on Bryan’s records, eventually arriving at a rudimentary diatonic layout with doubled strings. Everything changed in 1999 when Rick attended a workshop with Bryan Bowers at the Warrenville Folk Festival, outside Chicago. That meeting resulted in an obsession with the autoharp, and opened the door to the greater world of autoharp players through the Autoharp Quarterly magazine, luthier George Orthey, and the Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering.
Rick attended his first MLAG in 2005, absorbing workshops and sitting in on jams with other musicians for the first time since college days. He entered the MLAG contest as a way of challenging himself to improve as a player. Four years later he was the Mountain Laurel Autoharp Champion, and runner-up in the International Autoharp Championship at Winfield.
Rick describes his diatonic autoharps as the “turbo-charged sports cars of the autoharp world,” and uses a free-flowing, five-fingered picking style to deliver expressive melodies with interwoven harmonies. He is currently on the board of directors for the Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering and chairman of the Make Our Own (MOO) Music Gathering. He and his wife Erina live in Franklin, Wisconsin.