Music at MASS MoCA: The Erudite, Dense & Clever Josh Ritter on Saturday [Berkshire on Stage]

November 20th, 2014, 11:00 am by Sara

Josh Ritter

By Larry Murray

Moscow, Idaho-native singer and guitarist Josh Ritter has a literary disposition and an affinity for the old-guard likes of Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen and Paul Simon that led The New York Times to place him “among the cream of the young singer-songwriter crop.” His songs are playfully erudite, equally dense with clever metaphor and whimsical turns of phrase. He’s at MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center in North Adams on Saturday (November 22) at 8pm to try out new material for an unnamed forthcoming album.

“About six months ago I was hit by a song on the New York Thruway,” Ritter recently wrote. “The whole thing. Verses, bridge, a witty one-liner or two. Nothing like that had ever happened with such force. It was the first raindrop in a thunderstorm that I’m thankful continues unabated. I don’t normally go in for showing songs before they’re fully done, but what the hell, you only live once.”

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LIVE: Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band @ The Egg, 2/13/12

March 5th, 2013, 4:00 pm by Greg

Josh Ritter (photo by Martin Benjamin)

Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Martin Benjamin

There’s no denying that there’s a lot of Bob Dylan in singer-songwriter Josh Ritter’s literate, densely packed songs. And there’s more than a pinch of Bruce Springsteen in his performance style, which found him collapsing down on his knees on stage, not once, not twice, but three times during his sold-out concert at The Egg’s Swyer Theatre last month.

But the Idaho native doesn’t deserve the kiss-of-death “new Dylan” tag any more than Springsteen did back when it was hung like an albatross around his neck back during his early, pre-Boss, Asbury Park days.

No, Ritter is his own man, and he roared into The Egg in Albany armed with confidence and a whole, big batch of new songs from The Beast in His Tracks, his new album that arrives in stores today (Tuesday, March 5). While he’s brought his band with him for shows at MASS MoCA and the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in recent years, he’s only previously played solo shows at The Egg.


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LIVE: Josh Ritter @ The Egg, 10/14/11

October 19th, 2011, 4:30 pm by Greg
Josh Ritter

Josh Ritter

It is hard for a solo performer to play in a concert hall. Standing alone in the middle of the venue can be intimidating. Besides, the main point of performing solo is to have an intimate connection with the audience. Luckily, the Swyer Theater at The Egg in Albany is the perfect place. It is large enough to hold a good size crowd – and the theater was nearly full on Friday – without overpowering the artist. Both John Wesley Harding and Josh Ritter were up to the task.

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Take It From the Top: Josh Ritter’s “Bright’s Passage”

October 11th, 2011, 11:00 am by Greg
Josh Ritter: Bright's Passage

“The baby boy wriggled in his arms, a warm, wet mass, softer than a goat and hairier than a rabbit kit. He held a blade over a candle flame for some time, then cut the cord and rubbed the baby with a wetted shirt. When this was done he laid the child in a basket near the fire and then stood at the head of the bed and looked down at his wife’s face a long moment. Abruptly, he bent low and placed his head near her mouth, staying all the while stone silent, waiting for some whisper from her lips. At last he stood straight once more, seeming to disappear into the still blackness of the low rafters as if he had become just another of the cabin’s shadows.”

– the opening lines of Josh Ritter’s 2011 debut novel, “Bright’s Passage”

Singer-songwriter-novelist Josh Ritter steps into the spotlight for a solo acoustic show at The Egg in Albany on Friday night. John Wesley Harding opens the show at 8pm. Tix are $34.50.

LIVE: Josh Ritter @ the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, 12/5/09

December 8th, 2009, 10:33 am by Greg


Playing to what looked like about a half-full Troy Music Hall on Saturday night, Josh Ritter was no less enthusiastic for it. Before a truly “all ages” audience, Ritter and his band generously wove their way between quiet, acoustic moments and full-out rocking ‘n’ rolling, delivering a jewel of a show in a setting that echoed that perfectly.

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The Five Best Concerts of the Summer

September 8th, 2009, 2:02 pm by Greg

OK, here are the rules for Five Best Concerts of the Summer. There are no rules for Five Best Concerts of the Summer.

Got it?
Hit the comment button below, and let’s hear from ya.

Here’s our list:

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LIVE: The MASS MoCA Music Festival, 8/15/09

August 17th, 2009, 10:48 am by Greg

Elvis Perkins in Dearland (photo by Martin Benjamin)

Elvis Perkins in Dearland (photo by Martin Benjamin)

The fact that MASS MoCA decided to host its first pop music festival on the weekend of the 40th anniversary of Woodstock was sheer coincidence. Things at the North Adams museum were downright civilized. No mud; plenty of sunshine and good food available – beverages, too, including a selection of decent beers – for just $5.

And the music?

You can go here to read my review in the Times Union.

Elvis Perkins in Dearland made the most of playing a museum. For their final selection of the afternoon, keyboardist Wyndham Boylan-Garnett left his station of vintage pump organ and harmonium, grabbed his trombone and hopped off the stage into the crowd. The crowd began running around in a circle, flapping their arms up and down like wings. With a marching band bass drum strapped over his shoulders, drummer Nick Kinsey announced, “This is contemporary art, people. Just so ya know.”

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Josh Ritter, What Was the First Album You Ever Bought?

August 11th, 2009, 12:02 pm by Greg

joshRitter“I got a couple of them. I got ‘Pearl,’ the Janis Joplin record, and I bought ‘Bringing It All Back Home.’ That was after I heard ‘Nashville Skyline,’ which my parents owned. I remember going out and buying those CDs. I thought that was so awesome.

As for Dylan, I didn’t really like ‘Nashville Skyline.’ I didn’t really understand it until later, but ‘Bringing It All Back Home’ is an amazing record.

‘Pearl’ was released after she died, but Joplin is just like a bomb on that record. It’s the sound of somebody just exploding on a record.

One reason that I was so attracted to those records is that you could definitely tell that those were real people, and there’s nobody in between telling you what to think of what this is. There’s nobody putting any spin on it.”

Josh Ritter headlines the MASS MoCA Music Festival in North Adams, Mass. on Saturday, August 15. The fest begins at 3pm and also features Ben Kweller, Elvis Perkins in Dearland, Kaki King and Samantha Crain.

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