Hurray For The Riff Raff
New Orleans, LA
Alabama Shakes, Cat Power, The Byrds
A Puerto Rican banjo player leaves her native New York City to hop freight trains across the country, eventually settling down in New Orleans where she forms a band with a transgender fiddle player. The band secures a feature spot on the HBO drama Treme and becomes the toast of the Big Easy. It sounds like the plot of a movie, but it's actually the Hurray For the Riff Raff origin story. The band's sound recalls a bygone era that lends their music a timeless ambiance. From singer Alynda Lee Segerra's smoky tenor to the wistful front porch musings and celebratory swamp boogie of her backing band, Hurray For the Riff Raff is a reverent reminder of a hallowed music tradition.
Alynda Lee Segerra's Bronx, NY youth was informed by punk music and the feminist rants of Bikini Kill's Kathleen Hannah. She waxed poetic about the anarchic lifestyle of the street urchins that populated Tompkins Square Park on Manhattan's Lower East Side, just itching for an opportunity to explore the open road. By the age of 22, Alynda had settled in New Orleans after spending two years traveling the country by freight train as a veritable hobo. Time and the road shifted her musical tastes dramatically and she began busking with local street musicians as a washboard player.
Now 25, Alynda also plays banjo and guitar and has become the main songwriting force for Hurray For the Riff Raff, a local band that nurtured her infant musical aspirations but now trusts in her as their artistic, and financial, focal point. Segerra lists Judy Garland as a main inspiration, pointing to Garland's clearly enunciated vocals and her ability to stretch out notes in a woozy vibrato that masked her deceptive singing range. "What's Wrong With Me" from the band's latest release Look Out Mama is a fine example of Segerra's voice at work. Although huskier than Garland's and possessing less vibrato, Alynda delivers a wonderful country-tinged version of the standard torch song. Over the course of 4 minutes, Segerra displays the resonance of Cat Power's Chan Marshall coupled with the seductive allure of Peggy Lee and the soulful sturdiness of Dusty Springfield. It's an especially mature combination of traits, traits that could provide her and her band a stable life, unless she gets the itch again....
In case the travel bug happens to hit you, Hurray For the Riff Raff will be touring Europe the entire month of September. Expect some local N'awlins dates to follow, and a cajun stew full of live shows in 2013!