Josh Ritter ready to brawl at the House of Blues
BMS talks with the singer-songwriter ahead of his Boston show
Not sure what to get that special someone this year for Valentine’s Day? Or do you not have that special someone to get anything for this Valentine’s Day? If you find yourself in either situation, might I suggest picking up a ticket (or a couple of tickets) for Josh Ritter’s Valentine’s Day Brawl at the House of Blues tonight, an aptly named venue for so many on this most bittersweet holiday.
“We were going to do a tour and the shows happened to fall over Valentine’s Day and we thought it would be a shame not to do this,” says Ritter of his plans to play a string of “Brawls” in different cities. “We figured we should go for it and just give back the sense of love and agony. It is a holiday named after a martyr, after all.”
Ritter and his Royal City Band have completely sold out their February 14th show in Washington D.C., and the fact that so many people want to share that special night with him is something that causes Ritter to chuckle. “It’s ironic,” he says. “When I think of the number of women I asked to the prom, I don’t know, it’s a huge compliment that somebody would choose me to be in their night. Hopefully someone will get lucky, that’s my goal – one person getting lucky a night, and hopefully to not go the other direction.”
Another special part of the night is that fans will be able to make dedications to others in the audience, a concept that is sure to provide some interesting moments. “It’s more than dedicating songs,” says Ritter. “We wanted to take it beyond that, so people can dedicate things to each other and saying things that they want to say to them. Although I could think of a few people I could dedicate ‘Rattling Locks’ to.”
Concertgoers can expect a set heavy on Ritter’s critically acclaimed 2010 release So Runs the World Away, a versatile collection of songs that can be played loud or soft, solo or full band and in virtually any order. “Whenever you can have a new set of songs to play around with it’s a partial surprise how each song may come across, how little moments turn into big and it all changes over time,” Ritter says of playing the new album live. “What once was a puppy dog can all of a sudden now become a horse with fangs.”
A song that is not from So Runs the World Away that the audience can hope to hear is a recently penned tale of Sir Galahad that exemplifies Ritter’s storytelling writing style. “I don’t trust autobiographical songs because I think they sacrifice all the great things of fiction,” he admits. “There’s just not too much close to write about close to home all the time, I need to open it up to a huge scope. I love stories that are open to messing around with, plus I always hated Sir Galahad, that goody two shoes.”
One of the most important elements of Ritter’s ability to push his music in different directions is his connection with the Royal City Band, consisting of enigmatic bassist Zack Hickman, the multi-talented Sam Kassirer, guitar lead Austin Nevens and versatile drummer Liam Hurley, who have been with Ritter for almost a decade. “When great musicians spend time together there’s a language that develops and you trust it and hope that people respond to it,” explains Ritter. “It’s a lot like boxing, really. One punch doesn’t do anything – you have to string them together in combinations.”
Whatever songs are chosen and however they are played, fans can expect a one of a kind performance. Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit opens the show, a move that Ritter was very conscious of. “I love Scott’s stuff, and he is just a gentleman,” Ritter says. “I like to think of it as an event more than a show, make sure the whole night is great. And then when I go out there I make sure my shoes are polished because I care about everything being the best that it can be.”
Whether celebrating love or damning it, there are sure to be several songs on the night that fit your unique mood. And – who knows? – you might just be the one person that gets lucky that night.
Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band will play the House of Blues in Boston tonight, Friday, February 11. Tickets are available through Live Nation for $25 and $35. Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit will open the show.