The Philadelphia music community will celebrate the loss of a talented guitarist, composer, mentor and friend on Thursday at Rittenhouse Soundworks.
On March 1, Richard Drueding, 66, of Mt. Airy passed away after suffering a heart attack while at the Bucks County Folk Music Shop in New Britain. Drueding taught guitar, ukulele, and bass guitar at the shop for over 3 decades.
“Richard first came to us as a young adult, already talented and eager to teach,” the store said in a Facebook post days after his death. “Over the years countless students have come to us to say what a great teacher they had in Richard. His expertise never got in the way of his human touch. He was known for being patient, caring, encouraging, down to earth, and present.”
Jim Hamilton is a renowned musician and owner of the Rittenhouse Soundworks studio in Germantown.
“Beyond the personal loss, [Richard Drueding’s passing] left a huge cavern in our creative community here that seems to keep growing with each passing day,” Hamilton said. “I think, part of the problem we are having is that, as a man he was just as important. Smart, insightful, articulate, ethical and unfailingly supportive.”
Drueding grew up in Abington and graduated from St. Joseph’s Preparatory School. His father, Charles Drueding, was a bronze medalist who rowed crew in the 1932 Olympics, and Richard himself was a gifted athlete, serving as captain of the Prep’s varsity 8.
It was in Abington where Drueding met Marcia Jones, his wife of 39 years. “He booked nightly musical acts and provided dinner music at a nightclub called Guthrie’s,” Jones explained. “I was a server.” They were friends at first, and Jones’ says it ws Drueding’s guitar playing that won her over in the end.
Inherently altruistic, Drueding lived a life of compassion and service. He served on the board of the Drueding Center, a nonprofit organization that provides support and transitional housing to homeless women and children. The center was founded in 1987 due largely in part to funding from the Drueding family.
“He was such a neat person—and so damned talented too,” said Gene Shay, founder of the Philadelphia Folk Festival and host of WXPN’s Folk show for 50 years. Drueding was a favorite on the main stage of the Philadelphia Folk Festival.
During his lifetime Drueding released eight albums and performed extensively throughout the region with folk singer/songwriter Tom Paxton, guitarist/singer Vicente Castaneda, jazz and blues vocalist Zan Gardner, spoken word artist Sandy Crimmins, singer/songwriter Tom Gala, and more recently with percussionist Jim Hamilton and saxophonist Tom Moon.
“Life with him was always interesting, challenging, congenial, cooperative and filled with the beauty of art seven days a week. He was the most disciplined person I have ever known,” Jones added. “He was human, not perfect, yet perfect just the way he was.”
In addition to his wife, Drueding is survived by his sister Alice; brothers Charles and David; and son Emmett.
A musical tribute to Drueding will be held on Thursday, March 31 at 6 p.m. at Rittenhouse Soundworks (219 W Rittenhouse St, Philadelphia 19144). It will be a large gathering of musicians, students and friends.