The Country Music Project

Michael Rice

Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboard

 Initially, Michael Rice was just looking for a female singing partner to do acoustic gigs at coffee shops, back-yard parties and maybe the occasional wedding. But while working with that singing partner the idea morphed into forming a complete band.  Having not played in a band for 20 years, he was reluctant, but forged ahead anyway, and The Country Music Project was born.   As things progressed, Michael’s desire was to create a unique sound with other musicians who love the music and wanted to work together as a team.  “Making music with other people….there’s nothing like it” says Michael.“I make my family crazy playing the guitar all the time,” Michael admits. “Sitting still isn’t something I do well. I play guitar while I watch TV or chat with people. They think I’m nuts…….but it’s just part of who I am.

Michael’s passion for music took root early on. “My 3rd grade music teacher got me totally hooked,” he says fondly. “She taught theory, instrumentation, chord structure, we experimented with instruments, and I fell in love with music! My dad had a hand-me-down saxophone that I wanted to play more than anything, but 3rd graders weren’t allowed in band yet.”  So he had to start with the violin.   As soon as he could, Michael switched to the saxophone and by the end of 7th grade he was first chair.But his musical life was about to take a completely new direction.  In 1975, Michael snuck out of the house to see “The Who”.  As he watched the band work its magic, he decided he was going to be a rock star! So he joined a band and told them he could play bass - which wasn’t true – and he learned on the fly.  “It was the first time I had to play an instrument to fill a need, but it wouldn’t be the last” says Michael.   Being versatile has been a necessity in bands I’ve played with throughout the years.” He says, “It’s like being the ‘utility infielder’ of the music biz”. By the time he was 17, he was working continually, playing different instruments, teaching private lessons, working at a music store, and totally focused on music.   He went on to play with ensembles, local big bands like the Brass Beat, a traveling rock band, and everything in between.

But he goes on to say, “Traveling to play gigs out of a van was a great life for a while, and then it gets old fast.”  Burned out on the lifestyle, he gave it up and didn’t play in a band for 25 years. While the bar gigs might have killed the rock star dream, music never left Michael’s life. “While it was easy to play, I often dismissed country music as overly simplistic.” Michael says.  Then he started hearing something different in the genre. “The artists began layering vocals, and creating arrangements from rock, jazz and other contemporary sounds. “It intrigued me enough to think about performing again.” 


As the band came together, he says, “I always envisioned this as a seven piece band, with acoustic instrumentation and lots of vocals.  That composition sets us apart and gives us a greater depth than a lot of other bands.” “This band is a lot of work, but everyone’s like family to me.  When we don’t get together for gigs or to rehearse, I miss the people, and I miss the music” he says.  “We have a great sound because we have great musicians, but mostly because we have great people!”

He is supported in his music by his wife Debbie, and two children, Ashley and Kendrick.