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Josh Ritter

By Gary Wien


Josh Ritter is getting used to the comparisons to people like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. He's heard that stuff many times before - it's the kind of comparisons people make when your melodies flow and your lyrics seem like poetry. He doesn't really care about comparisons, he's just looking to find his own voice.

Hailing from the small town of Moscow, Idaho, Josh Ritter is on tour supporting his latest record, Hello Starling. It's a record so good that people who have never heard of Josh Ritter will most likely be singing along to the chorus of songs like "Kathleen" and "You Don't Make It Easy Babe" much like the sixties crowd who weren't into Dylan but still fell in love with "Like a Rolling Stone."

Over in Ireland, Josh Ritter is already a star. A chance meeting with Glen Hansard, lead singer of The Frames at a open mic night in Boston, led to a series of shows opening for the band in Ireland. When his single, "Me & Jiggs" entered the Irish Top-40, he began selling out headline tours, making appearances on late night television shows and even inspiring his very own cover band in Cork. Success abroad hasn't changed his life yet, but Josh can sense certain changes taking place.

"It makes you think in a different way," said Ritter. "A lot of the things that I never thought about when nobody was really listening are the things that I sort of think about now. Like who am I doing this for?

"I mean, it seems like a simple answer that you'd say, 'well, I'm doing it for myself.' And at times it is totally about what I think and my writing and nothing else matters. But it becomes harder to ignore. Am I writing so that my next record goes to the top of the charts??Or am I writing for anything? Those questions are not as easily dismissable as they seem. They're difficult things and it makes you all the more realize the kind of courage of people like Neil Young and Gillian Welch. Those are the type of people who really take it out on an edge and do things that they're not sure are going to be accepted."

Part of the reason Josh believes he is still searching for his own voice is because he gets influenced by so many different artists and styles of music. "I love everything," he says.

"The thing about music that gets pushed so much right now is are you gonna make it your first or second record? There's such a demand placed on some sort of musical maturity without knowledge of the fact or really accepting the idea that any musician that has a long career has to be given the opportunity to grow and start from somewhere and just develop from there. You really stand on the shoulders of a lot of people. I think that's a great thing. It's like in Literature or Science, the developments that happen are carried from one person to another. And I think that over the course of thirty records what I really want... I'll develop a style, but the one thing I have to demand is that I be given the time to do that."

That painstaking approach to his career was apparent during the recording of Hello Starling. Josh and his band traveled to rural France to record the record in an old dairy barn. Why there? To stay away from any and all distractions.

"Making a record is hard work," explains Ritter. "And you want to set the stage so you have enough tools to do the job the way you want it done... and no more tools."

The recording took seven days and the mixing took another seven. The daily schedule was working from about noon to six in the morning. At the end of the recording session, Josh was literally handed the tapes through the car window as they were leaving. "It was just down to the wire," said Ritter. "We worked really hard but, at the same time, I had a good idea of what I wanted to do and what I wanted to get out of the recording."

Most of the songs were written before France, but Ritter is always working on bits and pieces of songs and said "Bad Actress" and "You Don't Make It Easy Babe" were actually written during the sessions.

"I'm not always writing full songs in a sitting or anything and some of them have to sit around in my head before I decide whether I really like them or not," said Ritter. "Songs that I don't really like never see the light of day - performed or on record. I think you just have to have a feeling about it. It should be like a shirt or a pair of shoes, in a way. You don't want to feel silly walking out in them. So, I kind of wait around for that feeling."

If you have never heard Josh Ritter's music, you should come out to the Saint in Asbury Park on November 18th or November 20th at the Tin Angel in Philadelphia. His new record debuted at #2 on the Irish charts, and it won't be long before America catches on as well. See him in a small club while you still can.

"I think being on stage is kind of a celebration of what you're doing. All of the writing and things are fun for me personally, but all the other things are hard work, so that hour that you're on stage is a real kind of vacation."



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Light of Day's Main Event To Be Broadcast Live at McLoone's Supper Club
(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- If you couldn't get tickets for the fabled "main event" of the 2019 Light of Day Winterfest, you have another chance see the show.  For the first time in the 19-year history of the festival, the "main event", the star-studded “Bob’s Birthday Bash” on January 19th (a show that has long sold out), will be broadcast live via fiber optic cable at McLoone's Supper Club in Asbury Park.
Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts To Hold Winter Open House On January 27
(BERKELEY HEIGHTS) -- Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts (WIPA) will host a Winter Open House on Sunday, January 27 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. The free event is open to the public and will be held at the Performing Arts School (PAS) located at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights.
Billy Idol and Steve Stevens To Perform At Count Basie Center For The Arts
(RED BANK, NJ) -- Billy Idol and Steve Stevens, one of rock’s most iconic and enduring duos, will hit the road this March for their first ever tour performing as a duo: Turned On, Tuned In and Unplugged. The Billy Idol/Steve Stevens tour comes to The Count Basie Center for the Arts on Thursday, April 4th.
McDonald's Gospelfest To Celebrate The Life of Aretha Franklin With Return to Prudential Center
(NEWARK, NJ) -- The 37th Annual McDonald’s Gospelfest returns to the Prudential Center on Saturday, May 11 for the gospel event of the year. This year's event will honor and celebrate the life and legacy of the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin with an All-Star cast. The 5:00pm to 7:00pm portion of the evening will feature a rising stars competition for all ages and cultures in categories including Soloists, Choirs, Praise Dancers, Singing Groups, Gospel Comedians, Gospel Poets and Gospel Rappers. The gospel concert, beginning at 7:00pm, will feature some of the most renowned gospel artists in music history with the goal of spreading love, peace and joy to all races, nationalities and beliefs.
Bickford Theatre Presents Herb Gardner's Groundhog Jam
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Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes At Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme
This coming Sunday, January 20, Scott Wolfson and his band will be serving up their unique blend of Americana at the Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme series at Investors Bank Theater in Succasunna, New Jersey. The band – Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes – formed in Jersey City in 2011, and, even though the members have migrated in various directions since then, they still consider themselves to be a Jersey City band.
"He Totally Wowed Us!" John Oates LIVE! at SOPAC
It’s brisk for an evening walk on South Orange Ave. in South Orange, NJ, this Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 evening, but it’s a good road to follow as it leads us directly to the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) for a special performance by singer, songwriter, and guitarist John Oates and his backup group, The Good Road Band.
“Tons of Fun!” The Glenn Miller Orchestra LIVE! at the Grunin Center
Although Friday, December 21, 2018 is the shortest day of the year, the audience of big band music lovers here at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts is hoping for a long evening of classic swing and holiday tunes performed by the incomparable Glenn Miller Orchestra!
Mike Davis and The New Wonders
Mike Davis traces his love for the trumpet back to a Disney movie. He grew up in a musical family, with both his parents playing strings in the Seattle Symphony. But Davis wanted an instrument of his own. Then, at age 9, he saw “The Aristocats,” the animated film about a bunch of French felines — including a group of jazz-playing alley cats.
Ana Gasteyer's "Holiday Tipple" LIVE! at the Grunin Center
The Grunin Center stage in Toms River, NJ is set this Saturday, December 15, 2018 with drums, a grand piano, a guitar, an acoustic bass, and various microphones for vocals. A stool and several microphone stands are bedazzled with colorful garlands of shiny red, gold, and green, and wrapped gifts are strewn on stage among the instruments. Projected white snowflakes adorn the walls, and Christmas music plays as patrons enter the theater to put everyone in the mood for tonight’s holiday show — Ana Gastayer’s Holiday Tipple!










Event calendar
Thursday, Jan 17, 2019


MUSIC


Open Mic Night! @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 7:30pm


THEATRE

"Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm


KIDS

AMERICAN GIRL LIVE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:00pm

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