Singer didn’t plan career in music |

Singer didn’t plan career in music

Richard Shindell plays tonight in Grass Valley.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Richard Shindell’s folk singer-songwriter career reads like a fairy tale.

He’s quick to admit that it easily appears that way.

“If you had told me 15 years ago I would now have five records, even one record, I’d say, ‘Yeah, right.’ It’s all gravy. I consider myself a lucky person,” Shindell said from a Ukiah motel room Tuesday.

Since January, the former New Yorker has been away from his country of choice – Argentina, where he’s lived with his wife and two children for the last two years. Currently on tour in support of his fifth CD, “Courier,” Shindell will play at tonight’s KVMR nightLIVE concert in Grass Valley.

He never planned to tour or record albums. It just happened that way, he mentioned nonchalantly.

“I never really did something else but this, even though I started relatively late,” he said. He started a decade ago, just after turning 30.

Before then, he held miscellaneous jobs, attended college, “bummed around for a year and a half in Europe” and returned to the U.S. to study theology and psychology at the Union Theological Seminary in Manhattan from 1986 to 1990.

“The seminary was a struggle,” Shindell said. “I was not meant to be there. I’m an agnostic; I probably knew that before but didn’t want to know it.”

In between quitting the seminary and his music career taking off, Shindell worked at a wine shop in Baltimore, had a couple of odd jobs, and did open mikes.

Touring didn’t begin until his first recording, “Sparrows Point,” was released in 1992.

“My case is relatively rare. Someone else got the record company interested – I never strove at having an album deal – I was just recording songs at a friend’s house to get them on tape,” he explained. “Another friend sent a tape to a record company (Shanachie) which wanted to start a division of singer-songwriters.”

Shindell has written songs since his first days at the seminary.

These songs include love songs, ballads and portraits about whomever tickles his fancy, from a truck driver transporting contraband goods to Mary Magdalene yearning for Jesus.

Remnants of his seminary experiences can be heard in Shindell’s songs. To this day, he remains fascinated by religion and the mystery surrounding it.

And now influences from his Buenos Aires experiences are in his songs. He relocated there because his wife, Lila Caimari, was offered a job to run a graduate history program in her native land.

“Argentina’s a Third World country going through difficult times,” Shindell said. “The thing that’s really been impressed most on me is the disparity of wealth between the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere, the shortsightedness, the blindness of North Americans to the inequities of how others live. It just amazes me how North Americans are clueless about the rest of the world. People are spoiled up here.”

Shindell finds it’s very easy to live in Argentina.

“I love it, I have a lovely life, my kids are in a great school, we have tons of family, my wife has a great job, and it’s an artistic intellectual area,” he said.

Tonight’s concert can be heard live on community radio station KVMR (89.5 FM) from 8 to 10 p.m.


WHAT: Richard Shindell headlines and Amy Rigby opens KVMR nightLIVE.

WHEN: Tonight at 8

WHERE: Center for the Arts, 314 W. Main St., Grass Valley

ADMISSION: $12. Tickets at Foggy Mountain Music, Yabobo, BriarPatch and at Center for the Arts.


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