Richmond Fontaine is a four-piece alternative country band based in Portland, Oregon.
Formed in 1994, Richmond Fontaine started touring the Pacific Northwest live circuit to support their first three albums released on Cavity Search Records. Gradually gaining attention in the UK and Europe the band began regularly touring there. Most of the core musicians and producer JD Foster have worked together for a decade, and produced several albums. The band is named after an American expat, "a burned out hippy", that had helped bassist Dave Harding when his car was stuck in the desert in Baja Mexico.
Richmond Fontaine first gained exposure outside the USA through a song that was included on a Vinyl Junkie Records 'Loose' compilation released in the UK. This was followed by the band's self-released fourth album, Winnemucca. The band signed with Decor Records in Europe during 2003 with their next two releases proving pivotal to the band's success. Both were made "Albums of the Month" in influential magazine, Uncut, which named both their fifth album Post to Wire (2004) and sixth The Fitzgerald (2005) "masterpieces". U.S. critics have been generally complimentary but have also cited the band's musical similarity to Uncle Tupelo. Like many bands in this genre past and present such as Willard Grant Conspiracy, The Gun Club, and Green on Red, Richmond Fontaine are more popular abroad than in their own country.
Underpinned by lead singer and songwriter Willy Vlautin's lyrics, Richmond Fontaine songs often evoke imagery of Reno, Nevada, Portland, the Western United States and Mexico while telling stories in a style that critics have compared to Raymond Carver. Musically the group has cited influences such as Gram Parsons, X, Green on Red and Dave Alvin.
Vlautin is also a published writer. His first novel, The Motel Life was published in 2006, followed by Northline in 2008 and Lean on Pete in 2010. Northline included a soundtrack CD by Willy Vlautin and Paul Brainard. The novel was well-reviewed by George Pelecanos. Vlautin has also had stories published in literary journals such as Zembla, Cold Drill, Southeast Review, and Chiron Review.
The band's 2007 album, Thirteen Cities, received positive reviews across Europe.
On August 17, 2009 the band released their ninth studio album, We Used to Think the Freeway Sounded Like a River. 1
In September 2011 the band released their tenth studio album, The High Country.
Current band line-up:
Willy Vlautin: vocals, Acoustic & Electric Guitars,
Dave Harding: Bass guitar, Electric Guitars, Vocals,
Sean Oldham: drums, percussion, Vibes, vocals,
Dan Eccles: Guitar,
Paul Brainard: Pedal Steel, Piano, Vibes, Acoustic Guitar, Trumpet, vocals