Super Senior: Rick Norcross

Published: Jan. 28, 2021 at 11:59 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Rick Norcross calls his place in Burlington “The Rambler Ranch.”

“It’s a pretty great spot,” Norcross said. The perfect place to strum on his guitar. It’s his studio, office, and apartment.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Pretty homey.

Rick Norcross: It’s homely alright.

Every inch of his place is packed with memories. “It took 35 years to lug all this stuff up here,” Norcross said.

He has played music in the area for years, mostly western swing. “A lot of posters, a lot of jobs,” he pointed out. “Those are all banners I’ve done over the years.”

Reporter Joe Carroll: You kind of live in a museum.

Rick Norcross: I’ve heard that before.

In 1953, broadcaster Lowell Thomas visited the Shelburne Museum. Norcross lived there from age 6 to 16. His mom was the secretary to the museum director. “It was just a wonderful, wonderful place for a kid,” Norcross said.

But it was in his teens when he fell in love with folk music. He formed the group the New Walden Folk Singers. They even made it on TV. “This was a Saturday afternoon variety show on Channel 3,” Norcross said.

For 57 years he has rarely gone a day without playing the guitar. Right now, he’s working on a new song for better times. “Without an audience, musicians are kind of flailing away in the dark,” Norcross said.

We caught up with Norcross last July for his only concert of the year. He summed up the current music scene in one word -- “brutal.” Although grateful to get the gig, Norcross said that with fans wearing masks and social distancing, he couldn’t connect with the audience. “It was easily the most difficult show I’ve had in a lot of years,” he said.

And it was his last show. With little income coming in, he has turned to the past. “So, 50 years later when COVID-19 strikes, I go back to my archives,” he said. Legends like Tina Turner, The Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, and the Grateful Dead. Norcross was a music writer and photographer for the Tampa Times. He had a front-row seat to music royalty and he’s now selling those images in a kind of high-tech photo album -- a thumb drive of his 80 best images and concert reviews. “Thirty-five bucks -- Gett’in rich!” he said.

Reporter Joe Carroll: What do you think when you see these photographs?

Rick Norcross: It takes me back to the time.

From 1969 to 1974, the A list came through Tampa, like Elvis. “He had not been performing for a number of years and this was a kind of get back into performing tour,” Norcross explained.

A snapshot of Norcross’ past, Now, he has plenty of time to work on songs for the future. “See ya on the road sometime...” he said.

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