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Gin Blossoms drummer opens recording studio near Menomonie

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by Aryn Widule photos by Leah Dunbar

John Richardson plays drums for the Gin Blossoms, used to be in Badfinger, and has collaborated with talent from Wilco and Foghat to The Shoes and Velvet Crush. He’s also a farmer.
 
John Richardson plays drums for the Gin Blossoms, used to be in Badfinger, and has collaborated with talent from Wilco and Foghat to The Shoes and Velvet Crush. He’s also a farmer.

It’s becoming less and less surprising nowadays when you find out that someone famous, accomplished, or otherwise internationally noteworthy lives less than half an hour away from you. When I was growing up in northern Wisconsin we had tales of Eddy Murphy, Bill Murray, and even Ben Kingsley having vacation cabins around. Sure, nobody could remember exactly where they were, or who they heard the story from, but by god, they were out there. Probably.

“The old wood really gives a particular sound. And it’s beautiful. You just don’t see things like this anymore.” – Gin Blossom John Richardson on his Menomonie granary recording studio

Since moving to Eau Claire I’ve noticed that stories like that are not only as common, but turn out being more accurate. John Richardson plays drums for the Gin Blossoms, was a member of Badfinger, has played with countless bands and done studio work with talent from Wilco and Foghat to The Shoes and Velvet Crush. And he also has a farm just outside of Menomonie.

He moved here nearly 13 years ago. His wife’s family is from the area, and after traveling around the globe, living in Chicago, and spending time in almost any major city you could think of, they decided they wanted to settle on the farm her family has owned for nearly a century. We had a discussion about not only the merits of rural living, but the advantages for musicians to live in a place where they can put speakers outside and never have to worry about upsetting the neighbors.

Upon returning to the area he began farming. “I’d get home from the airport and hop on the tractor. We had trucks coming in every day. It was what I wanted to do. But a guy also needs time to see his family.” Richardson says. 

Realizing the amount of time consumed with running an agricultural operation, along with constantly touring and traveling, he decided it made more sense to focus on the music. The farming is now being handled by a local organic grower that the family rents the land to. Richardson did make sure to utilize one particular part of the property, however: a 100-year-old granary which he has converted into a beautifully warm and technologically modern recording studio, where he not only rehearses, invites acts, engineers, and producers from across the country to create, but is turning towards the local scene to try and get more involved with the musicality of the Chippewa Valley.

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