Maddie Rice: From Colbert to SNL with her Takamine

Maddie Rice: From Colbert to SNL with her Takamine

When word spread within pro ranks that musical director Jon Batiste and his jazz/funk/pop/fusion group Stay Human had been tagged as the house band for Stephen Colbert’s then-new The Late Show, and that Batiste was in search of a lead guitarist, speculation immediately began as to which veteran fret wizard would snag the coveted gig. When the chosen one was revealed to be a 22-year-old Berklee grad from Utah named Maddie Rice... well let’s just say that no one guessed correctly.

Four years later, when Saturday Night Live’s legendary house band snagged that same Maddie Rice for their own, her industry peers were not nearly as surprised. Maddie’s smooth grooves and liquid lightning leads had become immediately recognizable, highly desirable assets. So on October 3, 2020, on the premiere show of the new season with Chris Rock as guest, Maddie Rice made her first appearance with SNL's “Live Band” and was prominently featured in an on-camera solo.

While at Colbert, Maddie acquired a Takamine P6N (from the popular Pro Series 6) via our old friend Pete Browne at Clair Bros near NYC. Acoustic guitar is a rarity in the house band mix, but the Takamine had nonetheless become a staple in Maddie’s 6-string arsenal.

“One of my favorite kinds of gigs to do, and I don’t get to do it that often," Maddie confides, “is a duo with vocalist where I have to reduce a fully produced record down to just what I can do on acoustic. That’s a really satisfying challenge." Here are two great examples of Maddie and her P6N doing just that in 2019 with Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna in a live performance on WNYC in New York.

“I’ve also been using acoustic a lot as I get more into writing my own songs," she says. “If a song holds up on its own with just acoustic and voice without all the bells and whistles of production, I know I have something worth adding those bells and whistles to."

When asked about her acoustic influences: “I’ve gotten years of inspiration from Joni Mitchell’s many alternate tunings and I use alternate tunings on acoustic pretty often," she says. “I’m in awe of bluegrass flat pickers like Molly Tuttle, who I went to college with. And recently I’ve been listening to Mississippi John Hurt and I’d love to get good at that fingerstyle playing one day." 

And then there’s the new job. “SNL has been great,” says Rice. “I feel very lucky to be able to play live music right now. Most of the band members have been there for decades, so they have it down to a well-oiled machine, which is a nice situation to sort of inherit. My seventh episode was the band leader Lenny Pickett’s 700th which gave everyone a good giggle."

Maddie Rice perfectly represents the kind of hard-working musician that plays Takamine, and it's an honor that she chooses our guitars. Thanks Maddie!

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