Tag Archives: Josh Ritter

cat_reviews

Josh Ritter Closes Tour in Style at Music Hall of Williamsburg

March 10th, 2014

Josh Ritter – Music Hall of Williamsburg – March 8, 2014

6a00e553e482068834017c34585397970b-500wi
Do you like stories? Well, if so, you’re in for a treat any time you listen to any of Josh Ritter’s lyrically rich songs. The singer-songwriter has been weaving tales for more than a decade now, and his spring 2013 release, The Beasts in Its Tracks, only continues his great tradition. After an uproarious welcome to the stage of a sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday night, the crowd hushed as Ritter opened with “Wildfires,” from his fifth album, The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter, accompanied by two very accomplished musicians in Josh Kaufman and Zack Hickman. Kaufman’s prowess on the electric guitar shone early, on “Southern Pacifica,” while Hickman wowed with the lap steel on “Wings.” A pair of tunes from the last album, “A Certain Light” and “Bonfire,” had fans clapping and stomping their feet.

There was no questioning what spirit animal Ritter was when, as if an animal himself, he dropped to his knees and howled into the rafters during “Wolves.” The songwriter revealed that fan favorite “Joy to You Baby” was written just four blocks from the venue and that he was sincerely thankfully to be completing the tour in Brooklyn. Although Ritter touched upon gems from his catalog like “The Temptation of Adam” and “Change of Time,” he also treated fans to covers (Waylon Jennings’ “Abilene,” Ricky Nelson’s “I’m Not Afraid” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Save Me a Place”) and introduced new material, “Cry Softly” and “Strangers.” For the latter, Ritter requested “romantic lighting” and got darkness in return, which only provided a better first listen for the new song without visual distraction.

By the end of the show, the audience had happily joined in to sing sections of “Galahad” and “Kathleen.” The trio returned to the stage after a brief exit to encore with “Snow Is Gone” and “Lillian, Egypt.” Properly concluding the evening, Ritter called for opener Gregory Alan Isakov to sing on the final song, “Wait for Love,” with everyone singing along to the chorus, “We all got to wait for love/ Wait for love, wait for love,” which continued even after they exited Music Hall. The conversations I overheard as I left ranged from “He was great. He was just smiling the whole time” to “He sells out everywhere.” There’s no doubt why Ritter is so beloved: his masterful storytelling and his sincerity—but most of all, for his songs that speak to the chronicle of love. —Sharlene Chiu

 

 

 

cat_reviews

Punch Brothers Take a Look Backward and Forward

December 31st, 2013

Punch Brothers – The Bowery Ballroom – December 30, 2013


The arrival of New Year’s Eve is the singular moment in the calendar when we’re equally looking backward and forward. This makes it the perfect time to catch the Punch Brothers, who take music and styles from the past and make them new and equally make modern sounds classic. Last night at The Bowery Ballroom was the second of three sold-out shows in what is taking root as an annual holiday tradition. A heavy curtain behind the stage played tricks with the light, the deep ruffles alternately absorbing and reflecting, evocative of another time and place. And as the band took the stage, Chris Thile wished the eager crowd a “happy New Year … almost!”

Punch Brothers opened with their version of Josh Ritter’s “Another New World,” a gorgeous silence filling the space between the instruments: banjo, mandolin, violin, guitar feeling as timeless as ever. A new song, “Magnet,” simultaneously felt both New Wave and bluegrass, Thile silly and suggestive. An instrumental was dark, the music a step of phase, like they wound a bluegrass breakdown a quarter turn to the left with impressive solos from Gabe Witcher on violin, Noam Pikelny on banjo and Chris Eldridge on guitar before a short back-and-forth between Paul Kowert on bass and Thile on mandolin. These profound moments of beauty alternated with looser bits, the Punch Brothers’ humor always of the inside-joke variety, large portions of the audience ready to participate on songs like “Patchwork Girlfriend,” shouting along at the right time without provocation.

It was two pairs of covers that summed up the Punch Brothers’ forward-and-backward dichotomy. Mid-set they established their indie cred with an Americana take on Elliott Smith’s “Clementine” and followed it with a fantastic modernized rendering of a Claude Debussy piece. The latter was an impressive display of talent, all five musicians immersed in the piece, making it their own. The encore paired a solo Bach piece from Thile with a cover of Americana legend John Hartford’s “Old Joe Clark.” Thile, who resisted taking too many outlandish solos during the set proper, let it all out during the Bach tune, signaling that if you’re going to be self-indulgent, you might as well go all the way. Watching him contort both the music and his body, making the difficult look easy and the very old feel very new, wasn’t just art but performance art. “Old Joe Clark,” on the other hand, was just some good old-fashioned picking, and lest we forget where these guys come from, they tacked on a strong bluegrass version of Gillian Welch’s “Back in Time.” From “Another New World” to “Back in Time.” Forward and backward—happy New Year … almost.
—A. Stein

 

 

 

cat_preview

Josh Ritter Returns to Terminal 5 Tomorrow Night

May 17th, 2013

Growing up in Idaho, Josh Ritter heard the Bob Dylan/Johnny Cash version of “Girl from the North Country” on his parents’ copy of Nashville Skyline and knew he wanted to become a songwriter. Some dreams do come true, because years later, Ritter was named one of the 100 Greatest Living Songwriters by Paste magazine. The folk-leaning singer-songwriter has earned favorable comparisons to Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Leonard Cohen (or as Mary-Louise Parker says, he “is usually compared to the legends, the ones you have been listening to since you were 15, the ones you love most”), and he’s put out a considerable amount of material on EPs and full-length albums. The most recent of which, The Beast in Its Tracks, written in the wake of the dissolution of his marriage, came out earlier this year. In praising it, American Songwriter calls it “a gracious, relentlessly honest, post-breakup record.” And Josh Ritter (above, playing “Joy to You Baby” on Late Show with David Letterman) has been out on the road, touring with the Royal City Band, ever since. See them tomorrow night at Terminal 5. And as an added bonus, the Felice Brothers, on their last night on the tour, will open the show.

cat_reviews

Perhaps the Start of a New Tradition

December 31st, 2012

Punch Brothers – The Bowery Ballroom – December 29, 2012


These things have to start somewhere. In absence of Patti Smith’s longstanding New Year’s Eve run at The Bowery Ballroom, on Saturday night Punch Brothers kicked off what we can only hope will become an annual three-night out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new run at the corner of Delancey and Bowery. With Chinese lanterns strung across the room and cozy lights above the stage, the mood was celebratory, as rhythmic “We want an encore!” clapping spontaneously broke out before the band even took the stage. This was an arena-rock-primed crowd for a bluegrass band: What gives?

When Chris Thile and the band took the stage, opening with their cover of Josh Ritter’s “Another New World”—featured on their new Ahoy! EP (starting a show-long call-and-response of “Ahoy!”)—the reasons for the crowd’s enthusiasm were apparent. The song and the following set were without-a-net string music, with an openness worthy of a jam band, interplay reminiscent of great jazz quartets and songwriting rivaling your favorite indie-rock freak folk. The audience went silent during the songs before erupting like a canned laugh track in between, eagerly applauding Noam Pikelny’s banjo figure eights or Thile’s masterful mandolin playing. The set drew from Punch Brothers’ entire catalog and beyond. “New York City” was an early ode to their hometown, while “Heart in a Cage” prompted a happy sing-along for a maybe-not-so-happy song, and “Song for a Young Queen” was one of many giddy instrumentals wrapping up multiple genres in a singular Punch Brothers sound.

The second half of the 90-minute show was one long highlight reel: the band premiering a nice cover of the Beach Boys“Surf’s Up” (a song they “wished to God” they had written), paying tribute to the Seldom Scene’s Mike Auldridge, who had passed away earlier in the day, with “Through the Bottom of the Glass,” and handling an awe-inspiring movement from Thile’s “The Blind Leading the Blind.” During the last one, as the mathematically beautiful music unfolded, I was reminded that this bourbon-sipping picker is also a certifiable genius. As he led the band through a fantastic encore that hit on all of the quintet’s strengths, Thile mentioned his New Year’s resolution was to “drink more and better whiskey.” I’d like to add to that: Start a new New Year’s Eve tradition. —A. Stein

 

cat_preview

Emmylou Harris – The Bowery Ballroom – April 26, 2011

April 27th, 2011

emmy-lou-harris_2675

Photos courtesy of Kenneth B. Goldberg

cat_preview

See Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band (Plus Scott Hutchison) Tomorrow

February 11th, 2011

Growing up in Idaho, Josh Ritter heard the Bob Dylan/Johnny Cash version of “Girl from the North Country” on his parents’ copy of Nashville Skyline and knew he wanted to become a songwriter. Some dreams do come true, because years later, Ritter was named one of the 100 Greatest Living Songwriters by Paste magazine. The folk-leaning singer-songwriter has earned favorable comparisons to Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Leonard Cohen (or as Mary-Louise Parker says, he “is usually compared to the legends, the ones you have been listening to since you were 15, the ones you love most”), and he’s put out a considerable amount of material on EPs and full-length albums. The most recent of which, So Runs the World Away, came out last year, and Josh Ritter (above, playing “The Temptation of Adam” at last month’s Sundance Film Festival) has been touring with the Royal City Band ever since. See them with Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison (below, doing “My Backwards Walk”) at Terminal 5 tomorrow night.

Contest

Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Josh Ritter on 2/12

February 8th, 2011

grow_01_sm_trans

Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band—along with Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison—are coming to town for a pre-Valentine’s Day show at Terminal 5 on Saturday. And if you’d like to go but don’t have tickets try to Grow a Pair from The House List. It’s easy. Just fill out the form below, including your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Josh Ritter, 2/12) and a brief message explaining why Valentine’s Day is or isn’t important to you. Eddie Bruiser, not necessarily a believer, will notify the winner by Friday. Good luck.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Subject

Your Message

cat_preview

Josh Ritter – The Beach at Governors Island – August 8, 2010

August 9th, 2010

Josh Ritter - The Beach at Governors Island - August 8, 2010

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

cat_preview

Spend Your Weekend at The Beach

August 4th, 2010

If you check the weather forecast for this weekend, you’ll see nothing but sunny skies ahead, which is pretty great in itself. But why not make it even better with two nights of terrific music in the great outdoors? The L.A. five-piece Local Natives first gained attention last year at SXSW and then when the band toured Europe in support of their debut disc, Gorilla Manor, which came out in the U.K. nearly four months before its release in the U.S. While some groups have a clear leader and a set of complementary pieces, Local Natives (above, playing “Airplanes” for Seattle’s KEXP FM) are a true collaboration, from singing to songwriting to artwork. And when they come to The Beach at Governors Island on Saturday, expect to be dazzled by lush harmonies, lofty melodies and thumping tribal beats.

Josh Ritter has been at the game a little bit longer. He knew at a young age that he wanted to become a singer-songwriter, and so he did, self-releasing his first disc, Josh Ritter, back in 1999. Ever since then, the prolific musician has put out a large collection of EPs and LPs filled with intimate, folk-inspired music. As noted rock historian Mary Louise Parker says, “If you love music and have a device on which to play it, you should listen to Josh Ritter whenever you need sound.” And if you need sound on Sunday, head to The Beach at Governors Island to see Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band (below, playing “The Curse” on The Late Late Show). As an added bonus, this is part of Converse’s Gone to Governors series, which means the show is FREE.

cat_preview

Three Chances to Spend the Night with Josh Ritter

May 18th, 2010


Growing up in Idaho, Josh Ritter heard the Bob Dylan/Johnny Cash version of “Girl from the North Country” on his parents’ copy of Nashville Skyline and knew he wanted to become a songwriter. Some dreams do come true, because years later, Ritter was named one of the 100 Greatest Living Songwriters by Paste magazine. The folk-leaning singer-songwriter has earned favorable comparisons to Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Leonard Cohen and Gillian Welch (or as Mary-Louise Parker says, he “is usually compared to the legends, the ones you have been listening to since you were 15, the ones you love most”), and he’s put out a considerable amount of material on EPs and full-length albums. And, backed by the Royal City Band, Ritter (above, playing “The Curse” for Studio 360) is currently touring in support of his most recent disc, So Runs the World Away, which brings him to Town Hall tomorrow and Thursday and to Music Hall of Williamsburg (with Dawes opening!) on Saturday.

Download Josh Ritter’s “Change of Time”

February 9th, 2010


Singer-songwriter Josh Ritter’s seventh album, So Runs the World Away, comes out in May. And later that month, he and the Royal City Band will play Town Hall on the 19th (on sale Friday at noon) and 20th. But since that’s way too long from now to wait to hear his new music, check it out for yourself by downloading “Change of Time” here.

(Josh Ritter, above, plays “To the Dogs or Whoever” on Late Show with David Letterman.)

cat_reviews

Josh Ritter – The Wellmont Theatre – April 4, 2009

April 6th, 2009
(Photo: John Strymish)

(Photo: John Strymish)

Maybe all it takes is a smile—a big fat “I love my life!” kinda smile that permeates everyone around you and everything you do. That’s the kind that spread across Josh Ritter’s face on Saturday night at The Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, N.J. From the moment he hopped onstage, through the over-the-top platitudes to the audience, to the last notes of the show, Ritter did his best Cheshire Cat impression. And it did permeate all: His band smiled with him, the music had a big fat grin on it—every song—and the crowd just beamed.

Ritter’s band is the basic two guitars, bass, keys and drums, with the addition of something groovy called the Omnichord that the bass player strummed once or twice (to wonderful effect). Everything relied on the songs and Ritter’s charisma. For the most part that was just fine. Working out of the back catalog and sprinkling in a “new one,” the band swung the crowd with ease. I was shocked when Ritter would drop his vocals and the whole crowd picked up singing in perfect time.

It’s always a good sign when you can announce a new song and it’s the best of the night, which was the case with “Annabel Lee,” a tragic love ballad sung by a sailor to his doomed boat. This was slow and beautiful. It was so quiet, you could hear the guy three rows in front of you breathing. For the most part, though, it was upbeat, clap-your-hands rock, decorated with some goofy choreographed stage antics. It worked because that grin on Ritter’s face spoke to the fact that this was honest fun. Josh Ritter really does love his life and has the smile to prove it. —A. Stein