Classical IPR in Concert: A Tribute to Rick Jones

Jun 3, 2020

Rick Jones on the bodhran, 2007
Credit Debra Jenner-Townsend

If you’ve lived in northern Michigan long enough or have been a frequent visitor, then you may have attended a performance of the northern Michigan ensemble Song of the Lakes.  

In the early 1980s, Ingemar and Lisa Johansson, Mike Sullivan and Rick Jones began playing and performing sea shanties and traditional Irish melodies. Their charisma and energy attracted audiences around the world, and soon they were known as the unofficial Ambassadors to the Great Lakes.  


In 2007, Song of the Lakes marked their 25th anniversary with a performance at Corson Auditorium. 

Many audience members came to see one band member in particular, percussionist Rick Jones.  

Rick’s bodhran kept the steadfast rhythm of the band for over 35 years. 

This week on Classical IPR in Concert, we pay tribute to Jones and celebrate the music of Song of the Lakes.  


Listen Friday at 8 p.m. or Sunday at noon .

Friend and Song of the Lakes member Lisa Johanson recalls,  “He was always the one that people would be drawn to.  At the end of the show, there would be the line to talk to Rick. He had that kind of magnetism and charisma.”

Rick's experience in the Vietnam War resulted in living a life that was true to himself.  His legendary style of storytelling brought listeners directly into the story.  

In the late 1970s, he discovered northern Michigan while on his way out west. He liked it so much he decided to stay. Soon thereafter he met his wife Carol, and they made a life together.

An eclectic skills artist, his carvings and sculptures were displayed and sold in galleries along the Lake Michigan coastline.  

antler carving by Rick Jones
Credit Gretchen Carr
Bust of Ceramicist Alan Vigland by Rick Jones
Credit Kristen Vigland









On May 16, 2020 at the age of 69, Rick passed away in his beloved homeland of Benzie County.  




















Crispin Campbell, retired Interlochen Arts Academy cello instructor, friend and collaborator, remarked, “He is maybe one of the most naturally talented people I have ever known and not just with music.  He had a unique kind of talent with hearing and seeing.  He was a treasure.”


Rick Jones
Credit Derib

Rick Jones Tribute Playlist

  1. Conch and Flute Air/Crowley’s Reel, Lisa Johannson and Rick Jones

  2. Rick Jones and Crispin Campbell, Lizard Blues, The Lizard Lickers,

  3. Gary Worden, Long Blue Shoreline, The Sleeping Bear Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, The Lizard Lickers

  4. Reely Cleaning Up, The Lizard Lickers

  5. Traditional Sea Shantey, Haul Away Joe, Song of the Lakes

  6. Steve Dietz/Adaptation by Rick Jones, Three Sisters, Rick Jones

  7. Drafthorse Boogie, The Lizard Lickers

Excerpts from the 2007 Song of the Lakes  25th Anniversary Concert

All works composed and arranged by Song of the Lakes, Lisa Johansson, Ingemar Johansson, Mike Sullivan and Rick Jones. 

Rising of the Moon


Horn Dance

Pearl of America

Fire in the Western Sky

Old Testament Sky


White Bird


Poets Say



Man in the Mirror

Stand up for Freedom

Benzie Rover 

Conclusion: Conch and Flute Air/Crowley’s Reel