Richardson brings energy to Acorn

Published 5:21 pm Thursday, April 19, 2012

Critics have compared the force of Cathy Richardson’s songs to witnessing a space shuttle launch to  unleashing a tsunami from her iron-lungs.

Not many have the chops to stand in for Janis Joplin or Grace Slick in their iconic bands.

Cathy Richardson brings strong vocals to The Acorn Theater.

Grammy nominee and four-time DIY Music Award-winner Cathy Richardson pounded the Chicago music scene for years, selling more than 50,000 copies of her independently released CDs before being cast as Janis Joplin in the Off Broadway hit “Love, Janis.” She later toured the U.S. with Big Brother and the Holding Co. and, in 2008, became the lead singer for psychedelic rock originators, Jefferson Starship (with founding members Paul Kantner and David Freiberg). Richardson has been seen on television as of late fronting Jefferson Starship on the PBS special, “My Music: 60s Pop, Rock and Soul” and on HDNet with Cleveland’s Contemporary Youth Orchestra. Notre Dame Domers will be familiar with. Richardson’s rendition of “Here Come the Irish,” written by 1980 ND Football Captain and All-American John Scully.

Richardson is a favorite at the Acorn Theater, whether fronting Cathy Richardson Band, belting it out for Jefferson Starship or her new rock super group, the Macrodots.

On Friday, Richardson fans will get the rare opportunity to get up close and personal with the singer/songwriter when she performs solo and acoustic at the Acorn.

“Acoustic shows have always been a special love of mine. It’s how I started out in the early ’90s, playing open mics and opening for bigger bands by myself. As a performer, it is probably one of the most frightening and, equally, rewarding ways to do a show,” Richardson said. “There’s no band to fall back on, you have to carry the whole night on the strength of your songs and performance. I try to bring the energy of an entire band through my voice and guitar. It’s a great way for me to reconnect with my tunes. Often times, I’ll work without a set list and let the audience guide, the direction of the show. It’s always a lot of fun.”

The husband-and-wife duo Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion opens for Richardson. The couple’s latest release, “Bright Examples, takes their patented country-rock sound in a directions that is “sort of dreamy, but colorful.”