News & Reviews

Singer/Songwriter Randy Lee Riviere Creates Vast Musical Landscape of the American West on New “Wyoming” CD, Due February 26 from Wilderness Records

The Rockologist

Singer/songwriter Randy Lee Riviere (pronounced “Ri-VEER) announces a February 26 release date for his new CD, “Wyoming”, on Wilderness Records. Produced by Grammy-winner Kevin McKendree and recorded at The Rock House in Franklin, Tennessee, Wyoming features 13 all-original songs with a band that includes McKendree’s world-class keyboard and guitar work, as well as solid contributions from James Pennebaker (Delbert McClinton) on pedal steel, fiddle, mandolin and guitar; Kenneth Blevins (John Hiatt) on drums; David Santos on bass; and Yates McKendree as special guest lead guitar on one track.

“I was initially drawn to producing this project because of the depth of Randy’s lyrics,” Kevin McKendree states. “He cares deeply about our environment, his family, Native American culture and the beauty of the Western land. His lyrics illustrate those things in a very moving and poetic way. The songs all have something ‘classic’ about them, though they are brand new. Randy made it clear to me that he wanted the music to paint a picture of the vast Wyoming landscape. I think we accomplished that. He wrote the song, ‘Boys’ about his sons growing up. I really related to his lyrics, so I had my son, Yates, who’s now grown, play the lead guitar on that song.”

Randy Lee Riviere is from the landscape … his heart, mind, and very being find peace in the vast American West. This is his home. Along the road he’s done the hard work to thwart some of this human expansion, by helping protect over 40,000 acres of critical native and farm/ranch lands with perpetual conservation easements, getting ahead of the developers before they ruin the land forever.

“My concern for the fate of the land is paramount in my life,” he says. “Seeing so much of the West swallowed up by humanity and developer greed is always at the forefront of my mind. Seeing the ground I grew up on in Northern California get entirely covered over with housing developments burns deeply within me. The land of my formative years … betrayed.”

Randy’s music – as you’d expect – rolls across the old West in subtle and not so subtle ways. An epic title track instrumental on Wyoming soars across the landscape like a hawk under the morning sun. You can close your eyes while listening to it and just feel the power of this huge country … land Native American tribes fought very hard to keep. You can visualize bands of these betrayed and angry people thundering down from their sacred Black Hills onto the northern prairie in their futile effort to protect their lands … land that once provided for their every need.

The song “Red Rain” speaks directly through the life of a young man who came from the heart of these beautiful lands … where he learns how to become a man, finds his love, looks after his people … and is forced to confront an onslaught of invaders from faraway places. This confrontation inevitably became violent … all his tribe could do to attempt to stop these relentless greedy human beings. So they had to bring “Red Rain,” a hard rain.

Wyoming also has a wide variety of musical types and stories. “Our Town” is (not surprisingly for Randy) aimed directly at the propensity of developers to change the historical character of everything, including the towns where we grew up – the places that had a big role in shaping our life. “Fences” speaks to the lives and roles of working people … those that do the heavy lifting to provide for most everyone’s need. And how they are taken for granted. “Morning” is a wonderful melody about heartbreak and longing for better times of the past. On this Wyoming album you will find instrumentals, ballads – a full spectrum of country, rock and folk music … from the upbeat to melancholy; stories about the human condition of the past and present.

Randy Lee Riviere formerly recorded under the moniker of “Mad Buffalo,” a project he started back in the early 2000s. “We had a good run with four albums,” he recalls. “A Good Bad Road” – an ode to a rough-ass road along the western border of Glacier National Park … and my hero ‘Cactus Ed’ … Edward Abbey. Fool Stand was where an intense bout of reading about our Civil War tragedy met up with our invasion of Iraq … something I just couldn’t believe that we were doing. Mad Buffalo’s third album was Wilderness, an effort to morph my rather diverse musical tendencies and interests into what they call ‘Americana.’ The fourth and final MB record was Red and Blue, with the title track obviously about the ridiculous dichotomy between mostly city and country folks … and the phrase ‘agreeing to disagree’ no longer existing in American dialogue.

“So, now I just want to do something different,” he volunteers. “And I’m going to be a true Revolutionary by using my name! Mad Buffalo has run its course and it’s time for some new wind.

“We think you’ll find that wind coming down country…through crooked canyons packing old prairie voices.”