Guitars, Pedals, and Lynchburg, Virginia’s Music Scene
August 22, 2018
Music is an important part of any city's culture, and Lynchburg, VA is no exception. With the growth of the city over the past 20 years, local music in Lynchburg has grown right along with it. Richie Worrell has been part of the Lynchburg music scene for around eight years now. When he was a student at Liberty University, he was one of the lead singers and the lead guitarist for well-known local band Dogwood and Holly. Since graduating from Liberty, Richie has found another way to express his love for music: creating guitar pedals. A couple of weeks ago, we visited Richie at his home to talk all things music, Lynchburg, and his guitar pedal company, Worrell Effects.
Growing up in the small town of Galax, Virginia, Richie’s love of music started at a young age thanks to his parents introducing him to classic bands such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Fleetwood Mac. Because of all the amazing guitar playing in those bands, Richie knew since the time he was little that he wanted to play guitar. His parents bought him his first guitar when he was 11, and his love for the instrument only grew stronger from there.
Growing up as an only child, Richie entertained himself mainly by playing the guitar for hours on end every day after school. Playing the guitar opened up a whole new world for him; he became friends with people he wouldn’t have otherwise met, including the future banjo player for Dogwood and Holly. Richie believes that, had his parents not given him that gift when he was 11, he wouldn’t have fallen in love with playing guitar like he did at that formative age.
Dogwood and Holly
When Richie got to high school, he began writing his own music and exploring his musical abilities. This continued into his time at Liberty University where he and the members of Dogwood and Holly began playing together. They played at local shows such as Lynchstock and even played their song “El Shaddai” at Liberty’s Convocation. They released two full length albums between the years 2012 and 2014. Although the members of the band have moved to different cities, they still keep in touch and play together whenever they can.
After graduation, Richie fell in love with another hobby: making guitar pedals. Music technology has changed a lot over the last six decades, but with few exceptions, pedals are still mainly the same technology as they were all those years ago and are usually still handmade. In the 1950’s, electric guitars were played for country and jazz music, but about a decade later, rock ‘n roll was invented when musicians realized that if you turned up the amp really loud, it made distorted sounds. Pedals were invented to recreate those distorted sounds without having the crank up an amp all the way to 11. They’re also useful for recording studios to capture that perfect sound when recording.
Pedals evolved even more from there, and now there is an almost endless variety of pedals that make all kinds of different sounds. If you have listened to music in the past 50 years, you have listened to guitar pedals being used—perhaps without even knowing. In Richie’s words, “If the guitar is a paint brush and the amp is a palette, then the pedals are the colors. Each pedal has its own unique tone and “color.” Pedals are how a musician finds their signature sound in modern music.”
No two pedalboards are the same, and every musician has their own preferences on what kinds of specific pedals they use. Every player has their own unique combination of pedals on their pedalboard, and that pedalboard is what makes up their signature sound.
About four years ago, Richie began teaching himself how to make guitar pedals from videos on the internet because he couldn’t afford the expensive ones that he wanted to buy. It wasn’t easy to learn how to make them, but after a while, he got addicted to the hobby. After tinkering around for a while, he built a few working pedals, and his friends began asking him to make ones for them. When he first started it took him about three days to make a pedal, but now he can make one in just a few hours. He made a website (WorrellEffects.com), and his business Worrell Effects has grown from there. He’s built guitar pedals for synth keyboard players in local ambient bands as well as local musicians and even some members of Liberty worship bands.
Richie maintains the enjoyment and joy of pedal-making by keeping his production volume low. Although he absolutely loves the process of making pedals, Richie says that he wants it to remain a part-time hobby rather than becoming a job.
Today, Richie continues to make and record music under the name “Richard Son of Richard.” Although many know him from the all-acoustic band Dogwood and Holly, his new music reflects his love for electric guitar, which he considers his “first love.”
Last summer he released an EP called “Land of Sleep.” The songs are “inspired by three things - hazy days in his hometown in rural Virginia, the music of the film 'Sling Blade,' and a summer spent working as a groundskeeper on a riverfront campground.” Richie has “crafted these songs to have a sound of reminiscence and familiarity.” He describes the songs by saying “Land of Sleep is Tom Petty meets Radiohead's 'OK Computer'; Daniel Lanois meets Pink Floyd; Bruce Springsteen meets The War on Drugs.”
Right now Richie is recording a full-length album that will be called “Hypernormal.” Just a few weeks ago he also recorded a couple of songs in Richmond for an album coming out soon that will compile music from different Lynchburg artists. Each artist was asked to record one original song and one cover of a song from Lynchburg’s rich musical history. Richie recorded his songs for this album with a few other musicians under the name Overlook Hotel.
Lynchburg Music Scene
While Lynchburg has a rich musical history dating back hundreds of years, Richie is excited about the growth of the current Lynchburg music scene and its future. Lynchburg’s music scene has recently been experiencing what some would call a revival.
Richie believes that Lynchburg has the potential to become a regional music hub due to the talent and variety of our local bands. He says that the music here is a “cool melting pot of a lot of different types of music.”
When asked to describe the music scene in Lynchburg, Richie said that it is “organic, and like a family. Everyone knows each other and have played shows together. He is very excited that the city is growing and would love to see some venues open up specifically designed for concerts. Some of his favorite local bands include The Late Virginia Summers, Atlas Rhoads, and The Maplewaves. His favorite thing about Lynchburg is its potential, as well as its ability to feel like a big city while still being a small town.
Where to Find Richie’s Music and Pedals
You can listen to Richard Son of Richard’s songs at RichieWorrell.BandCamp.com. Dogwood and Holly’s music is on Spotify and iTunes. Learn more about Worrell Effects at WorrellEffects.com and on Instagram at WorrellEffects.
* This article was written while enjoying the melodic tones of “Land of Sleep” on BandCamp and acoustic timbres of Dogwood and Holly on Spotify.