After several years in Chicago, Riviera is now spread across the country to Portland, Oregon. Identified as “one of the city’s top unsigned bands” by the Chicago Tribune’s Metromix, Riviera has opened for Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), Son Volt, Califone, Hem, The Radar Brothers, Brent Best (Slobberbone) and Kraig Jarret Johnson (The Jayhawks, Golden Smog, Run Westy Run).
Working now as a Cosmic Americana Music Collective, Riviera continues to make music and break hearts across America. The members include multi-instrumentalists, specialists and vagabonds. You might find one belting out obscure folk songs in the Oregon vineyards…or another plucking a 12-string in the warm confines of a back-street pub…or a couple tapping out rhythms on the Chicago El…together or in odd pairings, they create unique sounds and flavors.
Two albums and three EPs of music have laid a solid foundation for the band to build on as they enter the next chapter. Where the book ends is anybody’s guess.
Derek Phillips – Singer, rhythm guitars, keyboards, harmonica
Born in Chicago and raised in Michigan, singer/songwriter Derek Phillips is a midwestern boy who dreamed of life on the west coast. Growing up in a house filled with the music of The Beatles, CCR, The Stones and camping with grandparents who were Bluegrass players gave Derek a varied sense of musical styles and a firm appreciation for the story-song.
Jeff Porter – Pedal steel, lap steel, lead guitar, mandolin
Multi-instrumentalist Jeff Porter is a mainstay on the Portland Americana scene, playing guitar, bass, mandolin, Dobro, lap steel and pedal steel with Paula Sinclair, Justin Jude, Reina Collins, The Beautiful Train Wrecks, Ashbury Park, Jen Bresnahan, and now Riviera.
Porter’s love for gear is also well known and his arsenal is coveted by many, including Mick.
After the Pacers split, he moved to Memphis for a brief stint in studio work. Finding this work a bit tedious, he returned to Milwaukee and formed the garage punk band Men from Mars, who played the Midwest extensively opening for various national acts such as the White Stripes and Frank Black. But once again, feeling the need to move on, fled to the thriving Chicago musical landscape, and joined Riviera in 2001.
Josh Boisvert – Keyboards, guitars, vocals
Born and raised in small town New Hampshire, Josh started playing piano at the age of 8, had 2 shitty teachers, and has spent the rest of his life trying to forget what they taught him.? At the age of 13 Josh B. sold his saxophone and bought a baby blue Ibanez guitar. He then formed a few high school bands and rocked southern New Hampshire for a few years.
After high school, Josh B. became a hippie and moved to Massachusetts. There he attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and played in several groove rock, jam bands. In his last year at school Josh B. cut his hair, started wearing normal clothes and formed the now infamous western Massachusetts band, Fried Pickles. After 4 farewell shows Josh B. and the band’s bass player accepted their degrees and moved to Chicago.
Two years later, Josh B. was playing piano at his valentines day party with his new all-star band, Sparkle Motion. He was wearing a leopard print smoking jacket and covering REO Speedwaggon. It was at this party that he met and first played with the band Riviera on a cover of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.” Three months later he bought a new keyboard while shopping for drum sticks, and later went to see Edward Burch perform with some friends. He ran into the men from Riviera and their friend B.W. who informed Josh that the band was looking for a keyboard player. Josh B. informed B.W. that he had just bought a new keyboard and was without a band. Thus after a short meeting and one quick trip to Iceland, Josh B. became the 5th member of Riviera.
Josh’s new project is just getting off the ground but the demos being posted will break your heart. Check out Lutz, The Band.
Matt Usner – Bass, guitar
Hailing from the Garden Spot of America – New Holland, Pennsylvania (pop. 5092), Matt Usner began playing guitar at age fourteen on an early 70′s Danelectro that was donated by a family friend and then spray painted red by his older brother. A self-taught guitarist, Matt formed his first band in high school: The Blues Hogs, a quartet of long-hairs obsessed with AC/DC, Zeppelin, and Robert Johnson covers. After The Blues Hogs separated – graduated, actually – Matt focused on acoustic sounds and formed the trio Dutch Rag, who unabashedly imitated Son Volt and Townes Van Zandt for two years in Philadelphia-area coffee houses and armed themselves with a 3:1 guitar-to-band member ratio at each show. After relocating to Chicago, Matt hooked up with Derek Phillips in early 2001and took on bass duties for The Blue Ribbon Brothers, the twangy predecessors of Riviera. Matt teaches at the City Colleges of Chicago and listens to Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane over the Sea several times a week.
Joshua Rogers – Percussion
The son of a Detroit-area producer, Joshua Rogers began a rigorous training regimen on the drums at age 9, starting off learning drum parts for songs by CCR, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley and T. Rex among many others. At 10 years old, he played drums and sang lead vocals in his first band, which performed songs (Dire Straits, ZZ Top, Chuck Berry, et. al.) at local area schools. In high school, he partnered with critically renowned composer Neil Rabaut and a load of synth/sequencing gear to create diverse and rhythmic compositions of a distinctly new-wave feel.
In late 1992 he connected with Derek Phillips and they began a project that would span a variety of sounds over nearly five years in Grand Rapids, Michigan. When their key project disbanded, Joshua and Derek went their separate ways and Joshua joined the high-energy Kalamazoo/Detroit pop outfit Packaged Bliss. When Phillips requested that he join his new project, Joshua left Ann Arbor to move to Chicago and help define the sound that would become what Riviera was for the Chicago years.
Riviera is rounded out with Damon Dunning (Celilo, The Don of Division Street, We Are Not Shadows) and John Becher (The Resolectrics) on bass and drums, respectively.
Read about the Indianhead Sessions