Jesse Burdick has a real passion for music. He grew up in Rhode Island and listened to bluegrass records, especially by the Lilly Brothers.
"I was really drawn to them," he says. "I remember when Don Stover got sick, and Bill Hall took over for him. He played on the Lilly Brothers' album In the Shadow of the Pines (1984, Old Homestead Records). I started playing instruments at home, first with the guitar, from an old Mel Bay book, then the banjo became my main instrument." Jesse discovered a large group of pickers hanging out in a small town not far from his family's home, including Bill Hall. "He really influenced me on the banjo."
Soon Jesse would hear more of his favorite musicians, like Bill Thibodeau. "I asked my dad to take me to some festivals, but he wanted nothing to do with bluegrass. He grew up with rock, and that's what he liked.
Jesse moved to Ivor, Virginia, in 2015, and in 2016 he married. "My wife is in the military," he says. "She was stationed in Japan, and I had an opportunity to play with some Japanese artists. Bluegrass is huge in Japan." In 2017 he released his freshman offering, "something I had recorded earlier but decided to release."
When Jesse returned to Virginia, he opened a full-rigged recording studio, Riverside Studios, in Smithfield. He began working with a couple of bluegrass acts and just released a rock opera for a client. "We utilize a variety of recording hardware and software, and we can handle any size audio project," Jesse says. "One thing that sets us apart is that we can record either in the studio or on the road. In other words, we can bring our full recording studio to the artists. We can record in venues, festivals, or we can do field recordings, in real fields." Jesse says the studio has a very homey feel. "It's in an old house that has several different rooms where people can record. We can also shoot music videos."
Jesse truly understands what an artist wants in a recording studio because he is also a musician. "I've been fortunate over the years to record with some of my favorite artists and to perform on stage with many of them, locally, regionally, nationally, and even internationally. I've performed with Pete Seeger, Country Joe McDonald, Travers Chandler and Avery County, Marshall Wilborn, and Alan Bibey."
Riverside Studios dedicates itself to music performance, education, and production. Jesse has received several endorsements, including Deering Banjos and Ear Trumpet Labs, and he is an artist member of AirPlay Direct. "The Deering thing happened by surprise," Jesse says. "I played at the Newport Folk Festival and had a horribly set up banjo with the absolute worst intonation. My band boss at the time called it an 'obnoxitron,' which pretty much describes it. I went to check out the Deering tent, not to buy, but to look. They kind of threw me in a chair and began handing me one banjo after another. I played and played, and surprisingly to me, they offered me a spot on their artist list. I got an Eagle II that I still use today."
Jesse teaches music lessons both out of the studio and online, including banjo, guitar, mandolin, and bass. "We also teach songwriting." Those interested can request a workshop, slow jam, jam camp, or a kids' academy.
With a new project released in 2022, Hops and Spirits, Jesse showcases his skills as a bluegrass artist.