Song of the Day – Ho Hey (The Lumineers)

As has been previously mentioned, my best friend Jody and have I have many things in common – but music is not one of them. While I’m more cute troubadours with moving lyrics, she more lyrics that make you move (dance preferably, Gaga being her favorite). But every once in a while the stars align and we both love the same song.

In January I was scolded for not having listened to a song that she had previously sent and ordered to listen to it right away. That song was The Lumineers “Ho Hey.”

At the time, she sent me a recording of their Daytrotter Session, but they have since released this adorable video. They’ve also recently released a self-titled album. My copy has been order and I’ll report back. Until then, I hope you enjoy the song.

New Josh Ritter – Why, Bringing in the Darlings

Very few things make my day the way an announcement of new Josh Ritter can. Today Ritter announced a new EP entitled Bringing in the Darlings. It’s been 25 minutes since the email came out, and I’ve already pre-ordered my copy. It’s fair to say I’m a fan (in case you didn’t get that from this entry).

You can stream the song “Why” right now over at Paste Magazine. You also get an immediate download of it if you buy one of the packages here. Good for those of us that will have trouble waiting for it’s release on February 21.

Upon first listen it’s already a song that resonates with me. Anyone that knows me knows I have difficulty making the big life changing type decisions, and am currently in that process right now. Maybe this will be my anthem until I get to where I need to be.

“Why spend your only life waiting, to do what you know you can do?”

Song of the Day – Gray or Blue (Jaymay)

There are television shows that I actually enjoy watching on Wednesday nights, but I was so at peace crafting and listening music that I stuck with that instead last night. And Pandora rewarded my decision by playing great music. A lot of The Band, John Prine and Joe Pug.

The Avett Brothers’ station is dominated by male voices, so maybe the fact that a female artist popped up piqued my attention. I had never heard of the song Gray or Blue, or the artist Jaymay, but I enjoyed it last night and hope you will today.

For the Love of Josh Ritter

For a reason I’m unsure of now I was seeking a level of anonymity when I first started the blog, which made this a difficult entry to write. But then I realized it doesn’t really matter, as I’ve already shared enough for you to track me down if you wanted. Additionally, I have only written about things I love thus far, so I’m not fearing for my safety (though if I ever get around to writing about why you should not read Visit from the Goon Squad, that could change.)

So, why is the trading of personal information vital to the story of my relationship with the music of Josh Ritter. Well, for the past five years I have been living in Moscow, Idaho. Despite it’s fairly trendy college town atmosphere, it isn’t known for much. But it is known as being the hometown of modern songwriting legend Josh Ritter.

I first read about Ritter in Paste Magazine, as they have long had an affinity for him and his music. And then there was this period of time in which I was only hanging out with Irish folks – and by that time Ritter’s music had already made him huge in Ireland. In fact, he’s so well known in Ireland that when I decided to move here one of my Irish friends said, “Hey, that’s where that Josh Ritter bloke is from,” making this fact one of the first I knew about my new home.

Despite the fact that all signs pointed in the direction of this artist, and I knew that he performed the kind of well-written folk rock that I’m a sucker for, I still hadn’t really been exposed to his music. That is, until the shopping trip that was highlighted in the previous entry when Alexis played me “Girl in the War.”

Two months later I received word that Ritter would be playing a benefit concert in town for one of his former teachers, Jim LaFortune, who was battling cancer. The day of the show brought with it buckets of snow and illness, and I had decided against going. Luckily, I have persistent friends, and those persistent friends have 4wheel drive. So, on a snowy Sunday evening, Mitch, Ali and I headed to the Moscow Junior High School Fieldhouse.

The night was magic. It’s would be impossible to have that experience without coming away with two lessons 1-that community is an incredibly powerful thing, and 2-that music brings people together in the most beautiful ways. The concert had the intimacy of sitting around a campfire, and through the process I felt as if I got to know Josh Ritter as a person and as an artist.

Ritter’s talent as a songwriter is undeniable. He weaves together powerful and beautiful tales of vivid characters that at different times make you laugh, make you fall in love, or break your heart. Paste magazine recognized this skill by including him on their 100 Best Living Songwriters list.

He has mad pride for his homeland, a trait I greatly admire as unofficial ambassador for the great state of Kansas (my home). Anyone that has spent time in Idaho can see the influences of the land in what he sings about and the sounds he puts together. If it is possible to paint a landscape with song, this man knows how.

What I like most about him is that he truly radiates joy when he performs. He often reminds you of a giddy child and seems to almost get lost in the happiness at times. He is incredibly humble, and as an audience you feel his appreciation for you, which makes you feel like you have a more active role in the performance.

This was especially evident in his homecoming, as he was clearly honored to be among childhood friends and families, in the community that he loves, for such an amazing cause. Though most of the concert consisted of just him and a guitar, he also played several songs with a high school student that he said “was the guitarist he wished he was.” He also had the middle school choir sing several songs with him.

Though the evening including many wonderful, magical and touching moments, there were two main highlights for me. The first was when Ritter performed “Idaho.” At that moment I became a fan.

The second was the final song, when he sang “Kathleen.” Jim LaFortune and his wife consider it their song and got up and danced during it. I’m fairly certain there was not a dry eye in the room. I was personally trying to hide my sobs. I just found this online, and cried again…

Unfortunately, a year ago Mr. LaFortune passed away, but not before making one last trip to see Josh Ritter play in Spokane – a trip that Josh Ritter and his family helped to arrange. The blog his wife maintained suggested that even though his health was failing, he did not forget about the concert and possibly lived for it. He passed away a week later. I cried when I got the news. Because of the experience of that concert I felt like I knew Jim LaFortune, and feel honored to have been part of that moment.

So, it’s time for you to jump on board with the Josh Ritter love. Just trust me, that’s the way trends work. Paste magazine ->Ireland->Do Good-ness -> Me->World Domination.

Song of the Day – Stop Wondering (April Smith)

Today’s Song of the Day goes out to Alexis – not in the “I’m over you, take that” way that the song suggest, but because I can’t listen to this song without thinking of singing this with her. Hand actions at all. You wish you were as cool as we are.

There are probably better videos of this song out there, but this was the video I found when I initially discovered this song, and there is something charming about it. Plus, I think she might be performing to a lot of older folks, which is adorable.