Why Richard Laviolette Rules by David Lander (2017)
Richard Laviolette and his music are a gift. What’s that saying? “A song can change the world”? That clearly a bit ambitious for anyone but, man, Richard has a handful that come pretty damn close.
While he is one of the very best songwriters we have, rather than schmoozing with someone in “the biz”, you’re more likely to find Richard knitting or kicking ass at crokinole with loved ones. His time and energy are focused and his values are clear as he surrounds himself with friends, family and artists that put emphasis on love, kindness and fighting for what is right.
Richard’s love and kindness shines brightly in his music but his music also packs a punch (or many punches, for that matter). Punches from small, but powerful, fists — one fist that punches oppressors, bigots, homophobes and sexists right in the face; one that raises itself in the air in solidarity with those who are marginalized; one that squeezes in self-reflection, calling each listener to look at their own shortcomings in failing to be patient, kind and honest while exploring ways in which to be more mindful. This music packs many fists.
Richard and his music clearly means a lot to a lot of people for a lot of different reasons. I’ve seen a capacity eBar singing then then-unreleased “Dear Liza (Bucket Song)” at the top of their lungs — more than half of whom didn’t even know the song before he started to play it. I’ve seen him inspire a room full of Newfoundlanders record a group cover of “Qq“ in an attempt to entice him to come out to play there for the first time. I’ve seen a Sappyfest crowd, stunned, jaw-dropped and silent, as the Oil Spills closed out their Saturday night set at the Legion at 2:30 in the morning. I saw him and his rock band, The Hollow Hooves, play at the Family Thrift Store during the spaces final days — a show that left me feeling as though I had just seen the biggest band in the world, the only band that mattered in that moment. And, while it has yet to happen, he’s going to close out Day 1 of Kazoo! Fest 2017 at the eBar. That’ll be another moment to add to this abridged list of the gifts that Richard and his music continue to give us.
See you there.
David Lander is a member of the Kazoo! Fest programming committee among other things.