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Richard “Richie” Colombo’s life began as a suburban San Francisco kid without much fanfare. The real story resides in his journey and how music taught him to follow his heart. Like most teenagers navigating through the 60’s, he got hooked on the Beatles, the Byrds, & Peter, Paul and Mary to name a few. From then on music was in his soul. What wafted over the airwaves in those days seemed to captivate his attention; singing along was the natural thing to do. In reality, it wasn’t enough for Richie… he wanted more. He yearned to play all the songs he heard.

When the summer of ’65 struck, Colombo’s luck changed. One day his Mom and Dad gifted him with a Harmony guitar they’d found at Sears. At last he could explore his passion – playing and singing, learning all the nuances, flavors and intricacies of song. He played his way through college while earning a degree in Early Childhood Education at Sonoma State University. It wasn’t long after graduating he landed a steady job as a kindergarten teacher at West End School in San Rafael, CA. Richard says it was a great time in his life – sharing music, stories and dance with the children – and “everyday began and ended with a song circle.” It was at West End he created and wrote the music for “Forever Friends,” a Children’s Musical Play.

In 1981 Richard teamed up with Miche Evans, and as a duo they quickly became local favorites performing at many Bay Area clubs. Their first album, Take A Chance featured eleven original songs penned by Colombo and Evans, and it received critical acclaim. Four years later when the two split, Richard decided to re-locate to the Pacific Northwest.

He fell in love with Portland, Oregon, but life was different; it felt empty in comparison to the well connected closeness he’d thrived upon in the Bay Area. After a few years of playing clubs and working as a Singing Telegram Messenger he enrolled in the music program at Portland State University. For the next four years Colombo immersed himself in music, studying Classical Guitar. All the effort earned him a Bachelor of Arts in Music.

While at Portland State, Richard became a Gay Rights Activist; hatred, bigotry and intolerance were threatening to become Oregon law through five different anti-gay ballot measures. He volunteered with Basic Rights Oregon and served as a board member for Portland PFLAG. He joined the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus and Bridge Ensemble, singing through Portland and the Pacific Northwest for equal rights and tolerance. For the next twelve years you would find him at every rally, parade, vigil, concert and AIDS benefit, usually with his guitar, proud to be out and with this amazing community.

In 2001 Richard released his first instrumental CD, Carry the Dream. This album, with twelve original guitar compositions, was an extension of his folk roots and was well received, finding considerable airplay on KINK FM radio’s Lights Out program.

In some ways, his music career came full circle in 2004 while teaching guitar at Artichoke Music. He was asked to lead the Saturday Song Circle, so he dusted off his treasure trove of folk songs and jumped in with both feet. Little did he know that this decision was about to usher in a life changing experience. When Artichoke Music announced its pending closure in 2006, Richard seized the opportunity to manifest his vision. This forty year old Portland institution housed a music store, a school and a remarkable concert space. Richard and his life partner, Jim Morris, took the reins of Artichoke and transformed it into a non-profit music community.

Whether he is introducing music to someone who has never played before, teaching, hosting a jam session or show at weekly concerts, Richie’s in his element. He sees Artichoke as the perfect haven for music, where everyone’s welcome to come and participate in the pure joy of learning and making music together in a community that is all heart. He love’s supporting other musicians, and it shows.

These last few years have been richly rewarding and without a doubt his most creative. He is always in the process of writing a new song. In 2009 he released his latest CD, Along the Way.

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