August 1st, 2013
Hurray For The Riff Raff hails from New Orleans. Their brand of country folk is steeped with old time southern soul. Recently signed to ATO, they've been making fans for a few years with strong albums and engaging live performances. Alynda Lee Segarra is the heart of HFTRR. She plays guitar, sings, and writes the music. Ms. Segarra's got some living under her belt for a young woman. At the age of 17 she took to the road to find herself. Hopping freight trains from town to town, she met a network of hobo musicians who inspired her to keep seeking and singing. Eventually she landed in The Big Easy and found herself a home. When I learned that Alynda is Puerto Rican I was shocked. Her story and sound are classic Americana. In interviews she often talks of how she doesn't feel of this time. Listening to her music, I believe her. It's definitely not trendy or striving to be hip. HFTRR sound refreshingly simple and honest.
Soon after I arrived and grabbed a Shiner, a moustachioed gentleman named Frank Fairfield took the stage. Over the course of his short set he played fiddle, guitar and banjo. Equally adept at all of them, he completely tore it up. His sound was seriously old timey and stripped of all pretense. If you told me he'd arrived in a time machine from the late 19th century, I would believe you. Like a radish farmer celebrating a bountiful harvest, Mr. Fairfield whooped the crowd into a small frenzy. Feet stomped the floor, hands clapped, and thumbs went under armpits. His singing switched from strained, high pitched warbles to full on hollers. I'm telling you, Frank was the real fucking deal. He captivated a full house of strangers and kept them talking about him long after he'd moseyed off stage. I'll be keeping my ear to the barn and eagerly awaiting another opportunity to catch his act.
HFTRR's set started with Alynda Lee singing a new song all by her lonesome. Immediately a smile stretched across my furry mug. Her songbird voice was even richer and sweeter in person. Think Margo Timmons of Cowboy Junkies with a hint of Hope Sandoval. After raucous applause when she finished the opener, she was joined on stage by her band. Their set lasted about 75 minutes or so and showcased their entire repertoire. There were upbeat numbers off their album "Look Out Mama", stripped down covers from "My Dearest Darkest Neighbor" and plenty of new songs yet to be recorded. The newer numbers were especially strong. Alynda Lee's songwriting seems to have matured and evolved since their last release. Can't wait to hear their first album on ATO, which is set to drop this winter. Something tells me they'll be playing bigger venues the next time they're in town. They drew rave reviews for their set this year at the Newport Folk Festival. I'm giving them a big thumbs up for their gig at Knitting Factory. Hurray For The Riff Raff is about cheering for the underdog. Quooklynite joins a growing fan base in pulling for Alynda Lee and her gang.