Keepin’ It Real

Full Disclosure

Transform’s Rich Layton is both a serious thinker and a serious rocker. When he began his respective careers in communications and music, he had to keep those pursuits separate. Heaven forbid that corporate clients would stumble into one of the local bars and find Rich onstage with the band; or conversely, that a musician up before dark would spot Rich in a suit and tie on his way to a meeting.

Fortunately, the old boundaries have disappeared. Today, Rich is respected in the professional music community not only for his musicianship, but also for his expertise in branding and marketing. On weekend nights, when Rich takes the stage with his band The Troublemakers, there are bound to be a few Transform clients and colleagues taking to the dance floor.

Learn more about the serious thinker here. To learn more about the serious rocker, read on.


The boogie is in the boy, and it’s got to come out!
– John Lee Hooker

Rich Layton has been a prisoner of rock and roll since junior high when the neighborhood garage band recruited him as lead singer. To escape playing the tambourine, he bought a harmonica and has been a dedicated professional musician ever since.

After college at the University of Texas, Rich began his serious musical schooling with songwriter Lucinda Williams, playing for tips on Austin street corners. When the couple moved to Houston, Rich became house harp player for the inner city club that was home to Townes Van Zandt, Nanci Griffith, Lightning Hopkins and many other Texas luminaries.

Before long, the blues beckoned, and Rich was introduced to the rich musical tradition of the Gulf Coast, where blues mixed naturally with rock-a-billy boogie, roadhouse honky tonk, steamy R&B, Cajun rock and dance party zydeco.

Eventually, friends encouraged him step out and bring his powerful vocals and high-energy showmanship to center stage. Today, he and his band The Troublemakers are Portland’s keepers of the flame for American roots music. As a songwriter, Rich evokes the sound of Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Gene Vincent, Johnny Cash and all their musical descendants – the proud tradition of three chords and a bad attitude.

Along with The Troublemakers, Rich counts lots of musical troublemakers among his friends. Local crowds have seen Rich take the stage with Buckwheat Zydeco, joining his old friend, mentor and accordion legend, Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural, in a blistering battle of the reeds. Rich also has joined Texas pals Lyle Lovett & His Large Band and honky-tonk hero Dale Watson during their annual tour stops in Portland.

For Rich Layton, there’s no parole from rock and roll – it’s a life sentence he’s happy to serve.