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Hurray for the Riff Raff is opening for Dr. John and the Night Trippers today at SummerStage Presents in Central Park and we here at FDRMX cannot wait to hear lead singer Alynda Lee Segarra’s sultry voice live. The band released an album in February of this year, called “Small Town Heroes,” which is steeped in old-time traditional sounds of Appalachian reels, Piedmont blues and Big Easy R&B, and Segarra’s husky contralto vocals. In “Small Town Heroes,” Segarra takes on the absurdity and misogyny of politics with the clever use of murder ballads.
Aptly titled “Blue Ridge Mountain” opens the album with clawhammer banjo and Yosi Perlstein’s sprightly fiddle leading the way, while something that sounds like a clogger working together as a makeshift rhythm section. Next up is a neatly rewritten version of Roy Acuff’s “Wreck on the Highway,” which was originally about the wanderin’ traveler hitching and bumming from place to place. Segarra’s “Crash on the Highway” is instead a two-step shuffle about the infuriating situation we all call traffic, especially as a gigging musician in a crowded tour van.
Another rewritten tune on “Small Town Heroes” is “The New SF Bay Blues,” based off of Jesse Fuller’s “San Francisco Bay Blues.” Continuing the theme from the above song, Segarra changes the tune’s subject from a hurt woman to a tour van that has broken down. “You’ve been a good old wage / You got me there in style,” she bids the van farewell. “Body Electric,” the center of the album and a highlight song, employs the traditional lady-killing murder ballad theme to convey the heroine’s intent. “Delia’s gone, but I’m settling the score / He covered her up / but I went to get her.” In classic blues rock style, “No One Else” has rollicking piano lines that Dr. John would be proud to hear, coupled with peppy sticking and an upright bass line. All things told, “Small Town Heroes” is a must-listen, which you can preview and purchase here. We would bet that Hurray for the Riff Raff will be more than an appropriate opener for the show tonight. The Encyclopedia of Music will see you there! Meanwhile, find out more about Hurray for the Riff Raff here.