What a difference a year can make.
After more than a decade in the bluegrass scene, Bonnie Sims knows what it takes to keep a career going.
When a music festival made a request to have more females represented, they reached out to fiddle player Eve Panning.
Panning then decided to reach out to Sims, Joy Adams and Emma Rose for some ideas.
The four came together to form the bluegrass band Big Richard.
That was in May 2021.
“After the first rehearsal, we were pretty hooked,” Sims says. “We had that one gig and became a band. We started booking shows from that point.”
The Colorado-based band will make not one, but three stops in New Mexico this weekend.
The first is at the Tico Time Bluegrass Festival in Aztec on Friday, May 13.
Then the quartet heads to Santa Fe where a show at Tumbleroot Brewery & Distillery is slated for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 14.
At 4 p.m. Sunday, May 15, Big Richard will perform at the Taos Center for the Arts.
Over the course of the year of performing together, Sims says it’s been a natural evolution.
“We’ve been able to be creative and it’s been magical,” she say. “Aside from being super organic, musically we all felt compatible. We knew what each one of us brings to the table.”
Sims performs on mandolin and guitar, while Rose concentrates on upright bass and guitar. Meanwhile, Fanning focuses on fiddle and Adams rounds out the sound with the cello.
“Each one of us knows what we want to accomplish as a musician,” she says. “It’s been pretty incredible to have these musicians by my side. We’re bringing out the best in each other.”
When it comes to the musical process, Sims says everyone gets a fair shake.
“We try to address everything objectively,” she says. “We try every musical idea and give ourselves the opportunity to listen to each other.”
Being an all-female group is something Sims wants to celebrate, though doesn’t want to bring too much attention to.
She says there’s are changes happening in the music industry that embrace women. Though it could be faster, she says.
“I grew up in the bluegrass scene in Texas and Colorado is way more friendly and open to the vibe and experiences,” she says. “We make change with every step we take. We’re walking alongside all the other women musicians.”