photo by Eric Kulin

Mike Rivard:

Having grown up in Minnesota, Mike Rivard moved to Boston in 1981 to attend The Berklee College of Music, where he studied both electric and acoustic basses as well as composition. During this time he also studied privately with the renowned jazz improv teacher Charlie Banacos. Rivard cites amongst his main influences Dave Holland, Bootsy Collins, James Jamerson, Colin Moulding, Charlie Haden, Michael Henderson, Charles Mingus, Mick Karn, Gnawa Music, Tony Levin and John Wetton. A scholarship in 1986 led to his studying with Dave Holland at the Banff Center for Fine Arts, and subsequently purchasing one of Holland's acoustic basses. Russ Gershon, whom Rivard had met in a Berklee class devoted to the music of Charles Mingus, was impressed with his playing of several Mingus solo transcriptions and invited the bassist to join his 11-piece jazz ensemble, the Either/Orchestra, in 1986. During his three-year tenure the band recorded three albums and toured throughout the east and midwest, during which time he began a long friendship with then-E/O keyboardist John Medeski. Through his association with the E/O he also met Mark Sandman and joined his band, Hypnosonics, as well as guesting on several Morphine CDs.

In 1989 he joined the Walkers, who signed with Atlantic Records after a fierce bidding war. Alas, no album was ever released and the band broke up, and important lessons about the industry were learned. By this time he had become well-known in the Boston/NYC area and had begun a long association with the Indo-jazz group Natraj, touring India and Africa and recording several CDs with the band. Through his association with Natraj he played with Ghanian master drummers Godwin Agbele and Dolsi-Naa Abubakari Lunna (studying with them as well), South Indian chitraveena player Ravikiran, bansuri player Steve Gorn, and others.

Being equally at home on both electric and acoustic basses, he became sought after for studio and live work and began to add to an already impressive resume that included Aimee Mann, Bruce Hornsby, Jon Brion, Cab Calloway, Mighty Sam McClain, Peter Wolf, Guster, the Velvet Underground's Mo Tucker and Paula Cole. Possessing a musical aesthetic that did not discriminate against any musical style, in addition to his work in the rock and pop fields he pursued interests in world music with the West African bands Oyie and Mamma Tongue, and jazz and avant garde music with Joe and Mat Maneri, Bob Moses, Vernon Reid, and others.

In the early 90s he began long associations with Jen Trynin (with whom he recorded one album for Atlantic), and The Story, a folk-pop duo consisting of Jonatha Brooke and Jennifer Kimball. Touring nationally and internationally and recording three CDs with The Story, he continued to work with both Brooke and Kimball after the demise of the band. The popularity of The Story led to a good deal of work with other folk artists including Shawn Colvin, Patty Larkin, Dar Williams, Catie Curtis, Lori McKenna, Kris Delmhorst, and others.

Seeking an opportunity to showcase his interest in combining jazz, dub, electronica, world music, rock and hip hop, he started his own band in 1998 called Club d'Elf. The only permanent member, Rivard forms the core of the group along with drummers Erik Kerr or Dean Johnston, Moroccan oud player and percussionist Brahim Fribgane, and turntablist Mister Rourke. The band has garnered an impressive reputation in the underground scene in the northeast, and has traveled as far away as Tokyo. Calling upon friends and contacts acquired through Rivard's many years on the scene, guests have included Sandman, Medeski, DJ Logic, Kenwood Dennard, Marc Ribot, Marco Benevento and many others. Over the course of its nine years of existence the band has released seven live double-CDs, and in 2006 its first studio disc, Now I Understand.

Knowing him to be a longtime fan of the music of North Africa, Sandman gave Rivard Hassan Hakmoun's CD Gift of the Gnawa, which led to the bassist falling in love with the sound of the Moroccan sintir, a three-stringed bass lute with a camel-skin top that Hakmoun calls "the 1,000 year-old bass". Acquiring one in 2002, he set about teaching himself to play the instrument, guided by help from band mate Fribgane and Hakmoun, as well as other Gnawa musicians he came in contact with. Today he is among a handful of western musicians who have reached a high level of proficiency on the instrument, and has added it to his arsenal of other basses.

In addition to his busy freelance schedule and leading Club d'Elf, Rivard has done extensive work in musical theatre, touring with the national company of The Lion King in 2004 and 2005, and playing in Boston for national tours of Wicked, Rent, and others. In 2005, he was the Bassist In Residence at Jacob's Pillow in Becket, MA (performing with the Ben Munisteri Dance Company), and has also performed with the Boston Pops.

"Rivard saves his best for last, closing with a head-twisting bonus version of “Shadow's Shift” in which his fingers dance upon the bass the way James Brown glides (well, used to glide) across the Apollo floor. Here his bass surveys the roaring funk of Larry Graham, the innovative fire of Tony Levin, the precision of Ron Carter, and the sheer audacity of Jaco Pastorius. You won't hear more bad-ass bass playing anywhere else...and I am glad, grateful even, to be among some of the first to hear it!"
-Chris M. Slawecki,, reviewing Club d'Elf Athens, GA 3/28/03

Mike Rivard- Discography


Club d'Elf::Live at Tonic, NY 5/26/04::(Kufala - 2004)

Club d'Elf::Gravity All Nonsense Now::(Kufala - 2004)

Club d'Elf::100 Years Of Flight::(Kufala - 2004)

Club d'Elf::Perhapsody::(Kufala - 2007)

Club d'Elf::Vassar Chapel 2/26/01::Kufala Recordings

Club d'Elf::Athens, Georgia 3/28/01::Kufala Recordings

Club d'Elf::4/20/00 NYC::Kufala Recordings

Club d'Elf As Above::Live at the Lizard Lounge::LiveArchive/Grapeshot

Doctor Sax and the Great World Snake (Music by John Medeski)::Gallery Six

Linda Thompson::Fashionably Late::Rounder

Billy Martin::Drop the Needle: Illy B Eats::Amulet Records

Stan Douglas::Suspiria (music by John Medeski / Scott Harding)::Limited Edition CD

Orchestra Morphine::Live 10/23/03::Kufala Recordings

Morphine::The Night::Dreamworks

Morphine::Like Swimming::Dreamworks

Morphine::Get Shorty Soundtrack::Antilles/Verve

Morphine::B Sides and Otherwise::Dreamworks

Jonatha Brooke::Ten Cent Wings::Refuge/MCA

Jonatha Brooke::Live::Bad Dog Records

Jonatha Brooke and The The Story::Plumb::Blue Thumb/ MCA

The Story::Angel in the House::Elektra

The Story::Grace in Gravity::Elektra

Zoux:: Volume 1 Bluezoux Music

Zoux:: Good Days

Carol Noonan:: Somebody's Darling

Michelle Lewis:: This Time Around

Jennifer Kimball::Veering From the Wave::Imaginary/Polygram

Erin O'Donnell::Scratching the Surface::Cadence/Warner Brothers

Patty Larkin::Red = Luck::Vanguard Records

Patty Larkin::Regrooving the Dream::Vanguard Records

Patty Larkin::Time and Love: The Music of Laura Nyro::Astor Place

Lori McKenna::Pieces of Me::Gyrox Records

Jennifer Trynin::Cockamamie::Warner Brothers

Geoff Scott::Tuesday Night::Table 8

Eugene Ruffolo::Fool for Every Season::CRS


Guster::Aware 3 The Compilation::Aware

Aimee Mann::Viva Noel::Q Division

Dar Williams/Lucy Kaplansky/ Richard Shindell::Cry Cry Cry::Razor and Tie

Either/Orchestra::Across the Omniverse::Accurate

Either/Orchestra::The Half Life of Desire::Accurate


Either/Orchestra::Dial "E"::Accurate

Orig. Soundtrack::Sunshine State::Rounder

Magnet with Moe Tucker::Don't Be a Penguin::PC Music

Natraj::Deccan Dance::Galloping Goat

Natraj::The Goat Also Gallops::Dorian Discovery

Natraj::Meet Me Anywhere::Dorian Discovery

Mighty Sam McLain::Give It Up To Love::JVC

Laurie Geltman::Motion Pictures::Rosebloom Productions

Courage Brothers::Wood::Eastern Front

The Walkers::And at the End of the DayÉ::Giant

Brian Ales::Naivete::VeraBra/BMG

Brian Ales::Creature of Habit::Intuition

Nando Lauria::Alma del Sur::Narada

Sheldon Moskovitz::Narada Christmas, Vol. 2::Narada

Ken Field::Subterranea::SFZ Recordings

Ken Field::Pictures of Motion

Todd Thibaud::Favorite Waste of Time::Dolittle Records

Duke Levine::Lava (tamboura)::DAring

Geoff Bartley::One Kind Word::MCR

Tomo Fujita and Blue Funk::Put on Your Funk Face::TFP

Dogon::The Sirian Experiments::New Dog

Don Houge::The Eternal Now::Accurate

Jacque Chambers::Colors::Right Coast

Michael Beatty::The Night Traveller::Blue Wing

Michael Beatty::Shotgun::Blue Wing

John McVey::A Circle of Friends::Fine Line

John McVey::Jigsaw::Native Language

Bruce Jacques::Kicking Back::DWE Music

Late August::Dreams Tonight::VSdb Records

Batwel Rada::Mesi

Kris Delmhorst::Appetite

Linda Sharar::Participate::Big Bean

Linda Sharar::Any Second Street::Rock Road Records

Brian Webb::Broken Folk

Daniel Barret::Shadows::Lovebang

Nate Borofsky::Never Enough Time::Finocchio

Felicia Brady::Magazine Street::MSM

Pat Burtis::Radium Girls::Blacksmith Shoe Music

Erinn Brown::Road Signs to the Sun::Right Coast Records

John Donelan::Our Life and Times::Right Coast Records

Dana Edelman::American Overload

Brian Gottesman::Pardon My Mess::Shelley Court Records

Groovelily::Little Light

Daniel Jacobs::Echoes of My Footsteps

Kevin McClusky::Trust::Waterboat Music

Will Provost::My Former Self

Jen Shankman::Under the Blue Umbrella

Too Human::True Boenel Records

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