Hello, I’m Rick Symmonds, keyboard player for Allied Saints. Many of you know me from my previous 7-year run with the band from its inception in 2000;for those of you who didn’t realize it, I’m back as of Dec.’09, after a 2-plus year hiatus. It’s great to be back, and I must say that the band seems to have made great strides musically in my absence and I hope to able to add some spark as we continue our journey. I’d also like to formally thank everyone in the band, as well as those loyal fans and followers, for making me feel so welcome again.
My musical history goes as far back as grade school piano lessons, though I didn’t feel the real spark of inspiration until later in my high school years. I took up piano lessons again,starting from scratch, with a noted jazz performer and professor at UMKC, George Salisbury. This association served to peak my interest in jazz, though I was studying at a very basic level at that stage. Prof. Salisbury was very encouraging, and also prophetic, when he predicted that I would most likely end up as a rock player rather than a jazzer. I still retain a great love for jazz and blues, which comprises at least half of my listening time.
My bonafide musical education began at Penn Valley in 1978, where I met several students who would go on to become noted in the K.C. area for their jazz performance. We attended music theory classes together, and played in the jazz band, led by a gentleman who played trumpet and was very encouraging. The following year I attended K.U.,continuing my musical studies, and returned to Kansas City the next year to attend UMKC. After a few years of bouncing around, not focusing on much of anything, I managed to return to the Conservatory to finish my degree in 1989. At this point, however, I still hadn’t had much experience playing in bands. I had, however, met Joey Walsh at UMKC, and we kept in touch, jamming occasionally at his house in Lee’s Summit,which was the springboard for my eventual association with the Allied Saints.
Around 1997,a couple of years after my marriage, Joey phoned me to ask about my musical endeavors. At the time I had recently begun some informal study with a local jazz pianist ,in the interst of spreading my wings a bit. I hadn’t been playing out much at all, so when Mr. Walsh invited me to his gig at Blayney’s the coming Friday, I accepted gratefully. The band was called the Hollywood Extras, and included at least two of the original members of the Saints. I sat in for most of the evening and things went pretty well, so I was invited to attend the upcoming rehearsal, which I also accepted, and at some point soon after became a member of the Extras. With my job as a Seafood Dept. mgr. at a grocery and part time work at my wife’s newly opened Sushi restaurant, spare time was already running short, but I managed to squeeze in enough time to work my way into a permanent position with the Extras, and some gigs began to materialize, thanks to the hard work and perseverance of Joey and co.
A couple more years passed, many more gigs tucked under our belt, and Martin and Missi made their presence known. Their band The Bidets was kind of in flux and they were looking to move forward with other musicians, so it was suggested that we give them a shot with us, and try to expand our horizons a bit. After a couple of enjoyable sit-ins at a couple of clubs we decided the chemistry was right, and the Allied Saints began its formative stages. Our drummer Dennis was beginning to feel some physical strain that necessitated his exit from the band,and fortunately Joey was acquainted with Charles “Moe Black”Burks from some previous musical association. We had our replacement, and Moe has since become irreplaceable.
As I said before, it’s great to be back in the saddle, and the music is better than ever, as far as I’m concerned. My wife and I are entering our 15th year in the restaurant business, and hopefully closing in on retirement(ha-ha!). I thank God for my musical abilities which have served me so well over the years and help to take some of the pressure off other “real world” occupations. I sincerely hope to continue making music with my bandmates who have since become my good friends as well, and I thank all of you who have continued to support us throughout the years. My heart goes out to all of you;see you out there soon!