"As the first
generation greats in bluegrass music slowly but surely
Dick Kimmel - "The Ambassador of Bluegrass" has been entertaining audiences for more than a half century. He has opened for Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys in Monroe's homestate, Kentucky. (At that concert Bill Monroe actually came out from backstage to listen to Dick's unique version of Monroe's "On and On") Dick has performed with such top artists as Del McCoury, Alan Munde, Becky Buller, and Hazel Dickens. He has performed and recorded with his own bands, Dick Kimmel & Co, Mountain Grass, and The Wild Turkey Stringband and has been featured on more than 2-dozen recordings, include 3 Dick Kimmel solo CDs.
The music of Dick Kimmel is firmly rooted within traditional bluegrass and old-time stringband music, a genre where he excels as a performer as well as an historian, teacher, and promoter of this music. Dick regularly carries his music throughout North America and Europe as a solo performer, with his band Dick Kimmel & Co, and as part of various musical collaborations including duo performances with both Adam Granger and Jerilyn Kjellberg.
In 2008 Dick was inducted into America's Old-Time Country and Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.
In 2010 Dick was inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame.
In 2012 Dick was inducted into the Mid-America Music Hall of Fame.
Dick was nominated for 2014 Bluegrass Entertainer of the Year by the Society for the Preservation of the Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA).
Performances with an educational component are a Kimmel specialty. His program, "Dick Kimmel's Hisotry of Bluegrass Music," has been presented at music festivals and special occasions for more than 40 years. Recently, Dick combined his music with his career as an award-winning wildlife biologist for programs featuring animal biology and animal songs. For Thanksgiving month, November 2014, at the urging of Minnesota libraries, Kimmel presented a series of family-oriented programs, "Talkin' Turkey Songs," combining turkey lore and the art of turkey calling with turkey and Thanksgiving songs. (Dick Kimmel, Ph.D. in Wildlife Biology, had a Wildlife Career spanning more than 4 decades before returning to life as a full-time musician.)
Dick Kimmel has been associated with traditional bluegrass and old-time country music for more than 50 years as a performer, recording artist, workshop instructor, teacher, historian, writer, and songwriter. Dick is a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist usually playing mandolin, clawhammer banjo, and guitar. He began playing music in the mid-1950's, singing traditional country duets with his brother, Charles. In 1962 Dick formed his first bluegrass band, a Chicago-area group of high school friends called "The Bluegrass Ramblers." During that period, Dick was part of the rock revolution when the instrumental music of group like the Ventures shifted to vocal bands rules by the Beatles - Dick performed for rock 'hops' for WLS-radio with his band, "The Tremolos." A decade later Dick, playing guitar and banjo, was touring throughout the United States with the West Virginia-based band, "Keen, Kimmel & Co." While living in West Virginia during the1960's through the early 80's, Dick performed and recorded with many leading bluegrass and old-time musicians. Many bands and musicians Dick recorded with during this period are included on his 1996 Copper Creek solo release, "Dick Kimmel - 25 Year Collection" (Copper Creek Records CD-0143).
Recordings by Dick Kimmel have consistently received excellent recognition from major bluegrass and old-time music magazines and radio stations in North America, Japan, and Europe. During the 1970's, Dick's recording of "West Virginia My Home" remained on West Virginia radio charts for more than 3 months earning Number 1 status. This recording was played before West Virginia University Mountaineer sporting events. Dick's original "Ride On By" also hit Number 1 in West Virginia. His more than two-dozen recordings over the past 50 years include 7 bluegrass/old-time CDs for Copper Creek Records and cuts on compilation recordings released in the United States and Europe. Dick's solo CDs include "Dick Kimmel ‑ 25 Year Collection" (Copper Creek Records CD‑0143), "Dick Kimmel ‑ Wild Turkey Rag" (Copper Creek Records CD‑0115) , and his clawhammer banjo release, "Dick Kimmel ‑ Fishin' Creek Blues" (Copper Creek Records CD‑0173). Dick wrote a book containing the music found on his banjo CD for Mel Bay Publications. His most recent (2012) release, "Dick Kimmel & Co - Dreamin'" (DKC Records) received excellent reviews.
Articles written about Dick Kimmel, his music, and his bands have appeared in many international music magazines. Bluegrass Unlimited (August 2005) noted, "Dick Kimmel is a well-known and long-respected multi-instrumentalist and bandleader on both the bluegrass and old-time music scene." The June 2001 Banjo Newsletter featured a cover story on Dick Kimmel and his clawhammer banjo playing. Following a 1993 solo concert by Dick Kimmel at Scotland's Guildtown Bluegrass Festival, the Scottish bluegrass promoter wrote, "Your performance was the highlight of the main concert and the audience was totally captivated and enthralled by your great selection of songs and instrumentals. Your program gave us a wonderful combination of soulful singing combined with multi-instrumental talent with a thoughtful blend of traditional and original bluegrass interspersed with marvelous old time material."
Dick was proclaimed "West Virginia Ambassador of Good Will" by the West Virginia Legislature in 1978; earning the title for his "tireless promotion of the music of this state through performances, recordings, lectures, workshops, and coordination of bluegrass events." This title was expanded to "The Ambassador of Bluegrass," in a 1994 feature article for Bluegrass Unlimited, because of his varied involvements with bluegrass music on an international level. For 15 years Dick served as the Chair for the International Bluegrass Music Association's (IBMA) International Committee.
Besides being a performer, Dick has written hundreds of articles and reviews for publications in North America, Europe, and Japan. On stage, Dick's emcee work paints a picture of bluegrass music and it's colorful history from information he gained as a bluegrass historian and writer. His presentations, like "Dick Kimmel's History of Bluegrass Music," have been featured for festivals and programs throughout North America and Europe since the 1970's.
Dick Kimmel's recent performances include the SPBGMA Bluegrass Awards Show (Nashville, TN) in both 2014 and 2015, The Miles City (MT) Bluegrass Festival, Martin Luther College, Bethany Lutheran College, The Garden City (MN) Bluegrass Festival, The Lakes Bluegrass Festival (MN), SPBGMA Bluegrass Showcase of Bands (Kirksville, MO), MBOTMA Spring Kickoff (MN), the Banjo Extraveganza (Knoxville, TN). He schedule includes more than 80 performances in 2014. His 2015 schedule includes a tour to central Europe with The Alan Munde Trio. Over the years, Dick has performed for: IBMA's World of Bluegrass/Fanfest (Nashville, TN, Louisville, KY, and Owensboro, KY), Chippewa Valley Gospel Bluegrass Festival (Bruce, WI), Bismarck (ND) Bluegrass Festival, West Virginia University, Kissimmee (FL) Bluegrass Festival, Indian Springs (MD) Bluegrass Festival, Patomic Highlands Bluegrass Festival (WV), Spencer Bluegrass Festival (Spencer, IA), European World of Bluegrass (Holland), Missouri River Bluegrass Festival (Washburn, ND), Carl Mai Festival (Germany), The Guildtown Bluegrass Festival (Guildtown, Scotland), The Opryland Hotel (Nashville, TN), Beartrap Summer Festival (Casper, WY); Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Festival (Richmond, MN), Station Inn (Nashville, TN), Sam Bond's Garage (Eugene, OR), The Black Hills Bluegrass Festival (Sturgis, SD) and countless other concerts, festivals, colleges, community concerts, and events. In May 2015, Dick will be back in Europe as part of the Alan Munde Trio.
Dick's bluegrass band, Dick Kimmel & Co, has produced 3 recent recordings including a traditional bluegrass gospel CD entitled "Dick Kimmel & Co - My Lord Keeps a Record" (Copper Creek Records CD-0240). This recording earned recognition by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) as one of the top bluegrass gospel recordings in 2005. Dick's music collaborations include touring with the Alan Munde Trio and the Becky Buller Band and duo performancs with both Prairie Home Companion alumus, Adam Granger and vocalist, Jerilyn Kjellberg. With Adam, Dick produced, 'Dick Kimmel & Adam Granger - Live at the Rhein" (Jeep Records 2218) recorded live at the Grand Center for Arts and Culture in New Ulm, MN.
The recording,"Dick Kimmel & Jerilyn Kjellberg - Somebody Love's You Darlin'" (Copper Creek Records CD-0245), received extremely high praise. Al Shusterman, from Backroads Bluegrass (KCBL, Scarmento, CA), writes, "Wow!! The impact of this extraordinary CD just takes your breath away. If you enjoy listening to authentic duets from years past, then this CD fits that bill...I was totally mesmerized while listening to this wonderful CD. The vocals were excellent and you could really feel the emotion and enthusiasm in their voices...The instrumental work was superb...I played the entire CD and received many calls to play it again....Truthfully, you need to play this CD several times in order to get the full impact from their beautiful voices and the great lyrics of each song." (May 23, 2007).
Quotes about Dick Kimmel and his recordings:
"Now a Minnesota resident, the
acclaimed singer/picker has spent the last four decades bringing
traditional country, hard-core bluegrass and old-time string-band
music to an international audience."
"Kimmel artfully attacks the mandolin with amazingly successful results." Frank Godby, Bluegrass Unlimited, September 1979.
"His vocal delivery is solid, pure and confident. . .His rendition of 'The Prisoner's Song' is one of the best and most soulful you are likely to ever hear." Alan Walton, Bluegrass Unlimited, January 1993.
"Dick Kimmel can best be described as a musicologist, a staff writer for Bluegrass Unlimited for twenty years, record producer, country and bluegrass musician. There is very little about country music that Dick doesn't know about." Dave Brassington, Country Matters (England), October 1994.
"This is (Dick
Kimmel's) first release concentrating on his clawhammer banjo
playing and it is long overdue...This is a very good project full of
honest vocals and excellent picking from Kimmel and all of the
others on this CD."
"This is hard
driving bluegrass. Anyone who loves bluegrass music will want
to add this to their collection."
The more I played Dick Kimmel's '25‑Year Collection,' the more I was amazed at Dick's wonderful talent, and the more I wanted to replay the CD." Frank Overstreet, Bluegrass Music News, Fall, 1996.
"Dick Kimmel is excellent mandolin picker who also excels on guitar and clawhammer banjo, whilst having fine voice too. An extremely pleasing blend of old time, mountain and bluegrass." Pete Smith, Country Music Roundup (Great Britain), September 1996.
"Dick Kimmel's 25‑Year Collection does a fine job commemorating Dick Kimmel's illustrious musical career." Dave Higgs, Bluegrass Breakdown, WPLN Radio, Nashville, TN. (December, 1996)
has put together a clawhammer banjo masterpiece in "Fishin' Creek
Blues," probably my favorite work of his to date. He plays
with power and authority and a respect for the way these tunes
should be played."
"Kimmel is a
known quantity, and he doesn't disappoint here. The playing is
crisp and well done..."
delightful selection of songs...now ranked in my personal top ten."
Kimmel...is best known to bluegrass fans as a fine mandolin player,
but he has always been serious about the clawhammer banjo. Now
his fifth (Copper Creek) CD is dedicated entirely to this style.
Kimmel shows the full range of the clawhammer banjo whether as a
solo instrument or in an old time band or playing bluegrass."
Kimmel does an outstanding job playing clawhammer banjo on 17
well-chosen, mostly traditional tunes. An excellent & highly
enjoyable old-time album."
"Kimmel plays Bluegrass music with fervor and a reverence for the way the first generation greats believed it ought to sound." Suzanne Denison, Bluegrass Breakdown, December 1994.
"A true veteran of the idiom. . ." Edward Munafo, Inside Bluegrass, November 1992.