Whenever I think of Josh Ritter, in the back of my mind I hear my friend Rachel say the name "Josh," since for a while her cousin was his drummer (not sure when he stopped). I saw Josh Ritter perform in London three years ago, and afterwards we went out with him and the band to some bar called Crowbar somewhere off of Oxford Street (ok, I admit it, my memory is extremely hazy). Last night I saw him again, two albums later, at Bimbo's in San Francisco (a venue that reminds me vaguely of the House of Blues or the Fillmore, only smaller).
It was a great show. He seemed like he was having fun, and I love it when musicians seem like they are having fun. In fact he seemed positively giddy. He played all of the songs I would have wanted him to play except for "Me and Jiggs," which I have fond memories of him playing before. Seriously, I feel like I've been trying to get people to listen to him for ages, including my parents, who I feel like should definitely like him, but no one has. So without further ado I present you with Emily's guide to Josh Ritter songs and awesomeness.
I was very happy when he rolled into Kathleen and a disco ball started going. I really, really love this song. Laurel and Rachel and I used to be obsessed with it, and I still am. It fits into the genre of art I feel like I appreciate either more or less than I would if I had had relationships in high school. I think I appreciate it more, but because I just imagine that maybe this is what it would have been like. Sorry I couldn't find a better video for it. You can actually download it form his website or by right clicking here and selecting save.
One of the great things he did last night was play a couple of songs entirely acoustically. Meaning, he unplugged the guitar and stepped away from the mic and just sang. It was pretty amazing to have the entire club silent, no sound, no falling bottles, just a slightly-mood-ruining air conditioner blowing in the background. Here's the song he played like this for the encore:
I listened to this next song on repeat for about three months straight. I'm pretty sure I've posted it before. He played it last night and the only downside was that he let the audience sing along, which sometimes bums me out. I'd rather he just sing it, or maybe let the audience sing along if it's in a tiny venue:
This song was the big surprise for me last night. I hadn't really listened a whole lot to the new album, and so I'd missed this one. I think it's my new favorite. You can download it here until Thursday Nov 1.
I guess part of the reason I like Josh's music is that it's sort of grounded in all that Western lore I'm so into. It makes me think of Lonesome Dove.
Couple more things:
"Empty Hearts" may just be my New Year's resolution song
"Still Beating" was the other all-acoustic-no-mic song and really lovely.
"Harrisburg" is kind of awesome.
"Mind's Eye" was the rockout song at the end -- I think -- when the whole band wore Roman legionnaire's helmets. I love this new trend in music where people just wear crazy shit that has nothing to do with anything, like Sufjan Stevens and his whole band wearing fairy butterfly costumes.