A native of Richmond, Virginia, as a pre-teen Rick Eldridge
taught himself to play drums, bass, guitar and piano. He was
playing electric piano onstage with blues and soul bands in
1973 while still too young to drive to gigs.
Honing his keyboard skills as a student at Virginia
Commonwealth University, Rick became recognized as one of
Richmond’s top jazz piano artists. Articles were written about
him and television programs were produced featuring his
group’s jazz.
After paying dues on the road with several pop bands, in 1983
Rick relocated to Virginia Beach to marry his fiancé and raise a
family. While there, Rick found himself in high demand as a solo
pianist for resort hotels and private clubs. He played solo for
over 20 years, learning over 1,000 songs to cover requests, and
becoming a skilled interpreter of vintage tunes and historic jazz
piano styles.
In response to many requests for a souvenir tape and CD, Rick
recorded a solo piano album entitled “Solo Flights” in 1995. The
album sold well and got the attention of the jazz press, and of
his idol Dave Brubeck. Brubeck himself commented that he was
“pleased and impressed” with Rick’s music and that Rick
showed “a lot of very natural ability”.
Rick also performed with jazz bands, and was eventually hired
to play ragtime piano with a local Dixieland jazz band.
In late 2000 Rick discovered an ancient tenor banjo in a pawn
shop. He decided to buy and rebuild it, and secretly taught
himself to play the instrument over the winter. By Fat Tuesday
2001, Rick debuted on banjo with his Dixieland band and gained
new respect as a talented multi-instrumentalist.
Relocating to Northern Virginia in 2004, Rick immediately found
himself again in demand by swing-dance and jazz bands on
both piano and banjo.
During a visit to New Orleans in 2013, Rick sat in on the
steamboat Natchez with the famous Dukes of Dixieland, and on
Bourbon Street with Steamboat Willie – who, being unable to
remember Rick’s last name, called him “Banjo Rick”.
Rick currently performs around the DC Metro area with several
jazz bands on both piano and banjo. He may be the only
Dixieland jazz musician in the world who can sing while
simultaneously playing banjo with his hands and bass pedals
with his feet!