Stephen Lee Rich
September 1st, 1969 a then sixteen- year- old Stephen Lee Rich entered a talent contest at the County Fair in Mariposa County, California. He won five dollars and a career was born. Most teenage boys would have hung up the guitar after securing their first full time job, but Stephen Lee kept the music coming. Now, over forty years later, he still commands the stage with his combination of folk, 30's and 40's pop tunes, and original songs mixed with a healthy dose of comedy and cowboy-style yodeling.
In the early 1970s the Chicago native returned home and started haunting every open mic he could find or legally get into. By mid-decade he was working regularly at places like the legendary Barbarossa, The Spot, and No Exit CafÃ and Gallery.
During the 1980s, when the folk venues started to disappear, he made the move to comedy clubs such as the Comedy Cottage, Zanies, and became the regular host of the twice weekly showcase night at Kobarts Komedy Kove. Around that he kept busy as the singer for an outlaws-style Country band called Greenwood Creek. He worked for a year as the opening act and rhythm guitarist for an Elvis impersonator named Tom Roan. He also linked up with a number of variety acts gathered from the His Hers club to inaugurate the Revolving Door Revue, a touring troupe whose peripatetic engagements first brought him to Wisconsin specifically to Fort Atkinsons CafÃ Carpe and later to Madisons Wild Hog In The Woods Coffeehouse.
Relocating to Madison in 1994 to front an Outlaw Country cover band called The Road Band, Stephen Lee soon found solo work as one of the rotating hosts of both the weekly acoustic jam night at the Anchor Inn and the monthly open mic at Mother Fools Coffeehouse. He also reconnected with CafÃ Carpe and Wild Hog in the Woods as a solo act.
The 21st century has, so far, been good for him. I 2002 he recorded a new solo CD, "Free Range Sofas", and further expanded his territory south to downstate Illinois, to places like Napervilles Fat Bean Coffeehouse and Lansings Muse CafÃ, into Michigan, to, amongst others, Escanabas 8th Street Coffeehouse and the Grand Marais Songwriters Festival, and all around Wisconsin, to Acoustic Fest and Premier CafÃ in Manitowoc, the Log Cabin Days Bluegrass and Folk Festival in Edgerton (as an act and host two tears running), the Elroy Fair in Elroy, Firefly Coffeehouse in Oregon, and many other places. He has also expanded into the Mid-Atlantic states, New England, and in the Southern states with shows at festivals such as the Heart of the Arts Festival in Titusville, PA, and Music on Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA , the Nashville Songwriters Festival in Nashville, TN, and the live radio show "Blue Plate Special" on WDVX in Knoxville, TN.
With all that he's done and all that he's working on its no wonder that the Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter said, Stephen Lee Rich is a one-man variety show.
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