Hurray for the Riff Raff @ Vintage Vinyl, St. Louis, MO

Words and pictures by Duane Clawson
"I've been havin' some hard travelin', Lord." – Woody Guthrie 

You may be asking why I opened this article with a line from a Woody Guthrie song.  This my friends would best sum up the musical career to date of Alynda Lee Segarra, founder and architect, of Hurray for the Riff Raff).  At 17, Alynda ran away from her home in Bronx, New York and took to a life of traveling and playing music.  After a couple of years of riding freight trains and wandering from coast to coast, she found a home in New Orleans.  Alynda wound up playing a washboard in a band known as The Dead Man Street Orchestra.  As more traveling ensued, Alynda met other musicians which evolved into Hurray for the Riff Raff.  During this time, Alynda was also searching for her signature sound which NOLA musicians Dan Cutler and Sam Doores helped her achieve.  If you were to pin down the sound of Hurray, it would be classic American Folk.  But if one was to analyze Segarra’s voice, you’d find flavors of Natalie Merchant, Nora Jones, and Cowboy Junkies lead singer, Margo Timmins.
So taking all of the above in to account, you can imagine that in-store performances, such as the one I saw at Vintage Vinyl, make this band feel right at home.  Setting the tone early, the band chose Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talking” as their sound check song, applying their signature sound to every second of the song.  Getting into the meat and potatoes of the seven-song set, the band chose to perform six songs from their recently released album, Small Town Heroes.  Alynda opened with an acoustic, solo version of “The New SF Bay Blues", a song that picks up right where Jesse Fuller’s classic “San Francisco Bay Blues” leaves off.  Borrowing a page or two from a bluegrass songbook, Alynda and company play “Blue Ridge Mountain” also from Small Town Heroes.  Digging a little deeper into their musical catalog, Hurray plays “Look Out Mama”, the title track of their 2012 release.  Hurray was in St. Louis as the supporting act for Shovels and Rope, both playing the following night at Off Broadway.  The band's affection for Delta Blues was present during song four, “I Know It’s Wrong (But That’s Alright).  Alynda explains the next song, “The Body Electric”, is a response to murder ballads, in which women are most commonly murdered.  She felt it was time for a woman to say something about this subject. 

Three members of the band took a break as Alynda, with the accompaniment of keyboard player Casey McAllister, played her ode to John Prine and title track, “Small Town Heroes”.  Closing out this great set of music, the band played “End of the Line”, a toe-tapping song that was written while hanging out their friends in the band The Deslondes.  Keeping with the tradition of most guests of Vintage Vinyl, Hurray hung around, signed autographs, posed for photos, and spoke with those in attendance.  One gentleman with long hair, wrapped in a bandana, went leaping with joy down the street after meeting Alynda.  Before the show, I overheard an employee of Vintage Vinyl say this band is going to be the next big thing.  After hearing them perform, I have to agree they have the potential.  As usual, our thanks to Vintage Vinyl for continuing this great tradition and of course Hurray for the Riff Raff for taking the time to stop by.  Pictures of the show are below:

 Contributed by Duane Clawson
Hurray for the Riff Raff @ Vintage Vinyl, St. Louis, MO Hurray for the Riff Raff @ Vintage Vinyl, St. Louis, MO Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on March 10, 2014 Rating: 5
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