For two local brothers, music is not only their passion but a special bond that they have shared for the better part of their lives.
Performing together onstage for over 30 years, Gene and Ken Risher are well known names in the local music scene.
Their latest adventure, Risher Brothers Acoustic Extravaganza, might be new to the local clubs and venues but has deep roots in Gene and Ken’s musical past. The Risher Brothers began playing together professionally at ages 14 and 16 and, since that time, have worked on countless projects both as a team and apart.
With their earliest times as musicians spent practicing in their parents' basement, Gene and Ken have come a long way, as Ken joked, “from the ‘no shaking the floor after 10 p.m.’ rule that we grew up with.”
Ken gives his parents and their support a lot of credit for his success.
“Our parents were always very supportive, “he said. “My father was driving us to our shows before I even had a driver’s license.”
Of course, these two very talented sons can look straight towards their father to see where their talent comes from.
“My father has a lot of theatre and movie experience,” said Ken. “That’s definitely where we got it from.”
Having performed alongside one another for so long Gene and Ken know and respect each other’s strengths in a way that few performers can understand.
“We know what each one of us does better," said Ken. "And we know how to draw from each other when we really get in the groove.”
So, did these two brothers always get along so well?
“We grew up in a house with three brothers so it wasn’t always peaceful,” explained Ken. "But music really did help to tame us and teach us to develop a new relationship.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you will not see a little bit of brotherly bantering when Gene and Ken are onstage together.
Most recently, Gene and Ken belonged to the wildly popular local band, MOJO, whose final performance took place on Dec. 11 at . While that last performance with MOJO was, indeed, the end of an era it was also the opening of a new door. For years Gene and Ken had performed their acoustic show “after hours” at private shows and parties and, recently, began making it a featured act.
As Ken explained, “seeing The Risher Brothers is a chance to come out and get 2/5ths of your MOJO on!”
With a wide range of local venues including , and the Risher Brothers are able to offer their fans a variety of performances suitable for each different atmosphere. Their goal is always to offer their audience music from every genre and even squeeze in a few requests when they can.
As for adjusting to performing onstage with one partner instead of a full band Ken is quite happy to be side by side with his brother Gene.
“When I have Gene with me that really is all the confidence that I really need,” said Ken. “As brothers we have similar voices and harmonize well together.”
Unlike many acoustic shows, The Risher Brothers benefit from Ken’s experience with the acoustic guitar as well as Gene’s talent for percussion instruments. While most acoustic shows have two guitar players, the Risher Brothers boast a unique sound with Gene on the Conga Drum and Tambourine.
“When you start learning a song,“ Ken explained, “you need to get a feel for what the original artist was trying to do and, once you have done that, you can find ways to make it your own.”
You can catch up with the Risher Brothers on Facebook at Risher Brother Acoustic or see them live at some of their upcoming shows Saturday March 5 at The Gardner Ale House, Saturday March 19 at Garrison's in Billerica and Saturday April 16 at The Parker House in Dracut. Schedules may change so it’s always best to call ahead.
As for the remainder of MOJO keep your eyes open for Paul Melaragni and a new band “The Big Bang Theory” coming to March 1.