Member Spotlight: Rico Gordon

Rico has always loved music. He grew up with 60s and 70s R&B. His mom’s side of the family is Mexican, so he’d listen to Vicente Fernandez and his uncle’s mariachi band: real music!

“In second grade,” Rico says,  “I wanted to play the saxophone. Let me tell you why: Kenny G, in the 80s, was the man! He was an odd looking dude, the guy behind the music, but the music was smooth. That was so cool– it was totally about the music.”

Unfortunately, the school Rico went to did not have a saxophone for him to play. They gave him a clarinet, which was “not quite as sexy.” Still, Rico played for a few years before stopping. There were no musical people in his immediate family; the reeds would break, and were too expensive to replace. The music inside him laid dormant for some time.

“As a brown/black kid from Oak Park in Sacramento, I wasn’t introduced to a lot of alternative music until high school.” Rico was 16 or 17 when his buddy played some Nine Inch Nails for him, and it changed everything he thought about music.

“I don’t know if I would have figured it out if not for my friend.” Rico started dabbling with electronic music in FruityLoops. He wrote songs here and there but lacked lack the confidence and guiding influences that could have encouraged him to create.

In 2018, Rico heard about MusicLandria from an acquaintance, and came looking for guidance on music. He says he “dug the vibe from the very beginning.” By his second visit, Rico had decided to volunteer for MusicLandria. “I just wanted to give back. It’s a worthy cause, and I’d already met some pretty cool people.” Rico began coordinating in-kind instrument donations for the non-profit. “The first instrument donation I got for the Library was a clarinet. That took me back!”

While he hasn’t checked out a saxophone yet, Rico has brought home a variety of synthesizers and drum machines from MusicLandria. “Those are great for someone with no background, a real confidence builder. You don’t need to make “music,” just push a few buttons, change a few settings, and have fun. I still don’t know how to play chords; I’m just having fun!”

Having instruments at home is especially important to Rico, since his son and daughter get no music programs at their schools. Best of all, he can make music with his kids. “They love it! They see me doing something I’ve never done before and want to try it too. I want them to feel comfortable trying new things. We’re learning together.” He feels it is a great opportunity for them to be connected, share and learn despite their difference in age: “Just to watch them play together is really amazing. There’s a lot of communication and back-and-forth involved. It’s very cool to hear.”

At the end of each week, the Library is a sanctuary for Rico. “Things have been rough lately. When I come here I can just forget about stuff – not only will there be some hot tea or snack but everyone’s gonna have a cool vibe. I just feel welcomed, with other people like me who just want to be themselves. It’s the place to be!”

As MusicLandria’s Donation Coordinator, Rico has a special request for the community. He dearly wishes the Library had his current favorite instrument, the Saxaboom (made popular by Jack Black). If you or anyone you know has a Saxaboom they’d like to donate, please get in touch with Rico Gordon, and help make his dream of being Kenny G come true.

If you don’t have any Saxabooms, you can still help sustain our Library by signing up to donate monthly at
Or, make a year-end donation at

THANK YOU for making stories like Rico’s possible!