Hurray For The Riff Raff

The Bowery Presents:

Hurray For The Riff Raff

Leyla McCalla, Ron Gallo

Fri, May 5, 2017

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

The Civic Theatre

New Orleans, LA

$22 Day of Show

Tickets Available at the Door

This event is all ages

Hurray For The Riff Raff
Hurray For The Riff Raff
It had been a successful, if tumultuous, ride for Alynda Segarra, who’s been spreading a new kind of roots-conscious folk music across the country from her adopted hometown of New Orleans. But as far as the Bronx native had come with her band, Hurray for the Riff Raff, there was still a missing link to her story. “The more I toured, ending up in the middle of nowhere bars from Texas to Tennessee,” said Segarra, “I just started feeling more and more like, I don’t belong here, I gotta get back to my people, you know?”

After many years in New Orleans, Segarra 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.

Segarra quickly went to work with producer Paul Butler, whose work with British soul singer Michael Kiwanuka she deeply admired, to capture the cinematic, old but new quality she wanted. It also meant assembling a core group of percussionists like Kansas City-based Juan-Carlos Chaurand and Devendra Banhart's drummer Gregory Rogove to play everything from Cuban to Puerto Rican to Brazilian backing beats. The result is an interconnected set of introspective songs, grounded in Segarra’s eclectic rustic root style, yet adorned by elements of son montuno, plena, and a kind of Mink De Ville retro-doowop rock.

Segarra drew early inspiration from cult favorite 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. She reached back to her cultural ancestors in the form of the radical political group the Young Lords and the salsa singer Héctor Lavoe. “I would just try to have the rhythm in my head and write the lyrics,” said Segarra. “Then I went back and added everything else, it was like poetry?”

Poetry permeates The Navigator, like when Segarra juxtaposes the feeling of growing up in a box in the sky on the 14th floor of an apartment building with the feeling her father had flying for what seemed like an eternity in a propeller plane from Puerto Rico to New York in the song “14th Floor.” Or when, in the elegiac piano-driven ballad “Pa’lante,” named after the Young Lords newspaper that showed the way forward, she inserts the sampled voice of legendary poet Pedro Pietri reading from his seminal opus “The Puerto Rican Obituary.” The Navigator is a restless observer, perched at the nexus of Allen Ginsberg’s East Village and the Nuyorican Poets Café, confessing the blues and dancing the punky salsa steps of a lonely girl, a hungry ghost.

Like a song-cycle from an imaginary Off-Broadway musical, The Navigator rises from the ashes of loneliness and striving, honky tonks and long walks by the river of urban dreams. From the wistful melancholy of “Life to Save,” to the stubborn resignation of “Nothing’s Gonna Change That Girl,” Segarra’s voice speaks with a husky weariness that coexists with a naïve curiosity. It’s the voice of a rebel who wanted everyone to think she was so tough, and nobody could take her down, but at the same time was yearning for love and magic, some kind of an awakening.Long-time Riff Raff fans should feel at home in The Navigator’s World. There’s always been a little bit of syncopated Caribbean strut to down home rock and roll, Appalachian rags share a similar root with Spanish troubadours and the blues is the same in any language. On The Navigator, Segarra’s voice has never been more soulful, whether she’s decrying urban gentrification on “Rican Beach” or mourning the lies people tell on “Halfway There.” Like the moment we’re living in, The Navigator is as much about the past as it is the future.

With its 12 tracks and its Travelers, Sages, and Sirens, The Navigator comes straight at you from the intersection of apocalypse and hope. This album rides Patti Smith’s high horse while straddling a thin line between love and hate. Segarra may lament the Trumpsters who want to “build a wall and keep them out,” but she knows that, like the outcasts she embraces, “Any day now/I will come along.” There’ll be no more hiding at the dimly lit intersections of class, race, and sexual identity—now we will all come into the light.

“I feel like my generation, through groups like Black Lives Matter, is really focusing on that type of intersectionality—if one of us is not free, then none of us are free,” said Segarra. “The Navigator’s role is to tell the story, tell it to the people who don’t know their own story, so they can be free.”
Leyla McCalla
Leyla McCalla
Named 2013’s Album of the Year by the London Sunday Times and Songlines magazine, Leyla McCalla’s debut album, Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes, made a profound impression upon all who heard it. The record, which set some of Hughes’ poems to Leyla’s music, and also included original compositions and Haitian folk songs, received rapturous reviews for its haunting mixture of music and message.

A Haitian-American who sings in French, Haitian Creole and English, Leyla McCalla plays cello, tenor banjo and guitar. Deeply influenced by traditional Creole, Cajun and Haitian music, as well as by American jazz and folk, her music is at once earthy, elegant, soulful and witty — it vibrates with three centuries of history, yet also feels strikingly fresh, distinctive and contemporary.

Offbeat called Vari-Colored Songs “ambitious, deep and gorgeous,” while the Boston Globe described the record as “at once varnished and sparse, like field recordings in high definition.” The track “Heart of Gold” was featured on NPR, which noted that the song’s instrumentation “sounds like lonesome nighttime.” But it was the New York Times who perhaps put best, characterizing the album’s material as “weighty thoughts handled with the lightest touch imaginable.”

Born in New York City to Haitian immigrant parents, and raised in suburban New Jersey (with a couple of teenage years spent in Accra, Ghana), Leyla experienced a renewed sense of connection with her Haitian heritage after moving to the Crescent City in 2010. “I feel very at home here,” she says. “The more I learned about the history of Louisiana, its ties to Haiti and French speaking culture, the more sense of belonging I felt and continue to feel.”

The relocation led to her appearance on the Carolina Chocolate Drops’ GRAMMY-nominated 2012 album Leaving Eden, as well as extensive concert dates as a touring member of the group. It also deeply enriched Leyla’s own music and sharpened her sense of purpose, setting her on the path that ultimately resulted in the making of Vari-Colored Songs.

Now, having toured extensively in the U.S., Europe and Israel in support of Vari-Colored Songs, Leyla is focusing on her next album. Titled A Day For The Hunter, A Day For The Prey, the album will be released in the spring of 2016 by Jazz Village/Harmonia Mundi. Named after the Haitian proverb that also provided the title of Gage Averill’s 1997 book about popular music, power and politics in Haiti, A Day For The Hunter, A Day For The Prey will continue to explore the themes of social justice and pan-African consciousness that marked Vari-Colored Songs. “I can’t help but be inspired by history, as well as what’s going on today,” Leyla says. Featuring songs sung in English, French and Haitian Creole, A Day For The Hunter, A Day For The Prey will include guest appearances by legendary guitarist Marc Ribot, Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Louis Michot of the Lost Bayou Ramblers, and New Orleans singer-songwriter/guitarist Sarah Quintana. “There’s a lot of goodness around this record,” Leyla says. “There will be new arrangements of traditional songs, but maybe a third of the album will also be original material. I’m really interested in continuing to develop that part of my work — and I’m really excited to be moving forward creatively.”
Ron Gallo
Ron Gallo
When you are at a Ron Gallo show leaning against the bar whining to your roommate about last night you will probably get called out and like it, you might get accidentally whacked by a guitar headstock or your phone punted, you might find yourself succumbing to the internal animalistic feelings you've been suppressing all week and you might even leave a slightly better person. It is a confrontational show with good intention, like a final punch before everything goes to shit. If you say hello afterwards, you might be shocked to be greeted by a genuinely friendly and grateful person that 5 minutes ago looked like a terrifying spastic red-faced maniac.

Formerly the frontman of Philadelphia based rock and roll band, Toy Soldiers, Gallo has gone through the return of Saturn and the wringer of life over the last couple of years and has come out the other side a person that dances where the infuriated fighter-of-the-good-fight and the observational jokester hang out. Like some big-haired spiritual punk raised in the 90s, Gallo is well-informed of the 20th century roots of American music and obsessed with the NOW in a time where people are drugged by distraction, bullshit and mediocrity. On Gallo's second solo record, HEAVY META (out early 2017), he candidly tackles the heavier topics and dark experiences he lived through during these transformative years.

From his personal ideology on refraining from drug and alcohol use, self-empowerment, domestication, dead love, not knowing someone or yourself, having a stalker, the "struggle" of being an "artist" in 2016, to the disastrous cycle created by terrible parenting, mental illness and post-apocalyptic tales of a world where "all the freaks have gone to bed," this record reflects its subject matter drenched in aggression, fuzz, and walls of Gallo's unconventionally primal approach to the guitar. It is a lyrically driven album laid upon a bed of electricity attempting to wake you up with each listen.

Gallo does not enjoy sitting still so has spent a good portion of the last few years and will spend the foreseeable future on the road backed by Joe Bisirri on bass and Dylan Sevey on drums: Coming to a hole in the wall, night club, backyard, theater, basement, Hardee's, Sleepy's Mattress Store, or arena near you. Gallo has appeared at Bonnaroo, SXSW, CMJ, Audiotree, Daytrotter and has received praise from renowned publications such as The FADER, Under the Radar, BrooklynVegan, PASTE among others.

"HEAVY META" will be released at some point in early 2017, but the "RG3 EP" is currently available on American Diamond Recordings, a record label run by Gallo out of his room in the Bordeaux neighborhood of Nashville, TN as of new years day 2016. The mission statement of American Diamond (as well as Gallo himself) is, "ROCK AND ROLL ISN'T DEAD... YOU ARE."
Venue Information:
The Civic Theatre
510 O'Keefe Ave
New Orleans, LA, 70113
http://www.civicnola.com