Hurray for the Riff Raff
With musical influences as diverse as New Orleans, The Bronx and Puerto Rico, Hurray for the Riff Raff’s sound is all their own, and it’s sure to delight Bluesfest audiences when they take the stage at Bluesfest 2018.
The band is fronted by Alynda Segarra who after many years in New Orleans found herself getting antsy. Hurray for the Riff Raff had four albums under its belt, with the last one, Small Town Heroes, featuring “The Body Electric,” a song that NPR’s Ann Powers called “The Political Song of the Year” in 2014. Yet even though her musical career had begun by running away from home at 17, busking for survival and honing her craft through dreams of Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Memphis Minnie, and Woody Guthrie, Segarra realized she is a Puerto Rican kid from the Bronx with a different story to tell.
To find her way back home, Segarra became the willing vessel for a character she calls “The Navigator,” from which her new album takes its name. She describes The Navigator, a/k/a Navita Milagros Negrón, as “this girl who grows up in a city that’s like New York, who’s a street kid, like me when I was little, that has a special place in the history of her people.” Through The Navigator, the listener hears an ambitiously interwoven, cinematic story of a wandering soul that finally realized she needed to connect with and honor her ancestors.
For The Navigator, Segarra quickly went to work with producer Paul Butler, whose work with British soul singer and former Bluesfest allum Michael Kiwanuka she deeply admired. Segarra also drew early inspiration from another Bluesfest favourite, Rodriguez, a Mexican-American who translated working-class stories from Detroit into powerful rock ballads, and the Ghetto Brothers, an underground band from the 1970s South Bronx who stitched Puerto Rican nationalist messages into a rough-hewn fabric of Santana and Sly and the Family Stone Afro-Caribbean funk.
The rich sounds, potent lyrics and danceable beats will enrich Bluesfest 2018, and undoubtedly win the band many new fans.
Hurray for the Riff Raff are playing Bluesfest on Thursday 29 and Friday 30 March