hurray for the riff raff — young blood blues

bristol rhythm & roots: two man gentlemen band

Hurray for the Riff Raff — Young Blood Blues. Out now, self-released.

What I want to know is this: when did all these kids start picking up banjos? Not a complaint, just a question; who is this folk revolution to be pinned upon? Are banjos really cheap in pawn shops and at garage sales? Somebody tell me what you think.

If this was a complaint about banjos, I wouldn’t like the deft, delicate songwriting of Hurray for the Riff Raff’s Alynda Lee Segarra nearly as much as I do. Segarra and her band are based, now, in New Orleans, but before settling down (as much as musicians ever settle down), she took off as a teenager and road trains all over the country. It shows not so much in her songwriting, which is lovely, but in the orchestration of her music, which knows how to use open spaces as easily as it knows how to use Segarra’s banjo and voice.

There’s all kinds of traditional music being made right now, and it gets lumped under Americana or roots or whatever it is; those boxes are unfair, but it’s so hard to describe music if you don’t have a word that means something close to similar to everyone. Hurray for the Riff Raff is traditional music, subtle and complex music laid over by Segarra’s little girl voice. She sounds like one of the girls in the Be Good Tanyas, or Jolie Holland when she lets loose, which she’s capable of; the music has the New Orleans flavor of her adopted hometown, banjo and great accordian lines, a thick swampy feel to it.

Young Blood Blues is Segarra’s second album with her band under the Hurray for the Riff Raff name; I haven’t heard the first, but there’s a edge in the songwriting skill on this one that belies her youth. It’s a much more mature album than her 23 years would normally suggest, in a lovely life-is-meant-to-be-lived sort of way. If you want a change in the traditional sounds you’re looking for — I for one know that I tend towards to male-fronted bands — Hurray for the Riff Raff would be a good place to start.

They’re at the Pinhook in Durham Thursday, 10/21, 9PM, $5. Sam Doores & the Tumbleweeds and Animal Alphabet open. Locals, RIYL Midtown Dickens.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. pam says:

    The last time I saw Elliott Brood (who you should check out, btw) they had this whole thing about banjos, and how “down here in America, you guys are used to dueling banjos, but we’re Canadian, so… uh, how ’bout some cooperating ukuleles!” It was pretty great. I do not know what to say about banjos, but I thought of that story just now.

    1. Pam, you’re my favorite. ❤

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