Live at Bumbershoot 2014, Day 3: Hurray For The Riff Raff

Jacob Webb
all photos by Brittney Bollay

Coinciding with the rise in popularity and influence of American roots music, a new generation of songwriters has cropped up to transcend the stories and culture that inspired their predecessors and paint pictures of modern American life. At the forefront of this new chapter is Hurray For The Riff Raff leader Alynda Lee Segarra, whose songs use traditional instrumentation to describe a modern picture of America. Raised in the Bronx, Segarra left home at the age of 17, opting to hop freight trains around the country in order to see the world. Upon meeting fellow nomadic musicians, Segarra decided to pursue music while continuing to travel, and by 2008, she had found a musical home in New Orleans and formed Hurray For The Riff Raff as her primary musical outlet. After four self- or independent-released albums, this year's Small Town Heroes brought the band into a larger spotlight, and in a time where myriad cultural and racial issues are being brought to national attention, there's no better time for a songwriter like Segarra – a queer-identifying feminist – to tell those stories in her music.

Segarra opened the set by herself, with the beautifully reserved "The New SF Bay Blues". Segarra is as commanding as be in the reserved music lounge context. Her pained lyrics and soaring voice combine to make for a powerful experience. But when her bandmates joined her for the upbeat "Blue Ridge Mountain", the vibe really came alive. The band's third track was an instrumental jam complete with crowd interaction where appropriate. Throughout their set, Hurray for the Riff Raff kept the energy up and the crowd engaged - an excellent way to continue the day's festivities.

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