FOR decades singer-songwriters have sung about running away, living life on the road and possessing nothing but the coat on their back and the guitar under their arm. But few have actually done it.
So this makes Hurray for the Riff Raff’s Alynda Lee Segarra something of a refreshment – and a genuine one. Segarra ran away from her Bronx home when she was just 17, leaving her regular life for one of unpredictability and adventure. She criss-crossed America, hopping freight trains and living off her wits.
But it was worth it. She settled in New Orleans – America’s true cultural melting pot – and while there she joined the Dead Man Street Orchestra, a band whose sounds epitomised the cultural scope of Americana music and equally its hobo ideals.
So striking was the Dead Man Street Orchestra that it appeared in a Time Magazine photographic essay in 2007 and released two albums there after. Within months, Alynda – in the folk tradition of Neil Young and Bob Dylan – recruited a band, the Tumbleweeds, and set up Hurray For Riff Raff.
Hurray for the Riff Raff, fronted by Segarra, explores American roots music with a honky tonk twist and 2012 perspective, with a bit of psychedelia thrown in. Segarra plays banjo and her accompanying band provides fiddle, double-base and guitar back-up. And with their rootsy sound and free spirit credentials, Hurray for the Riff Raff are the hobo band that define Americana in its truest sense: transient, resourceful and ambitious.
This month the band released their debut album, Look Out Mama, on their own label, Born to Win Records, though they were later picked up by the Loose Music label, home to the likes of the Felice Brothers.
Hurray for the Riff Raff play at the Greystones, Greystones Road on Wednesday, September 6.