Originally from the Bronx in New York, singer-songwriter Alynda Lee Segarra left home at the age of 17 to travel westwards across America before settling in New Orleans. Perfecting her craft busking and singing with various bands while immersed in a city rebuilding itself in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Alynda Lee Segarra formed Hurray for the Riff Raff around 2007. Based around the core duo of herself on vocals and guitar and Yosi Pearlstein on violin, the music collective has a floating line up which can also include bass, accordion, clawhammer banjo, musical saw, guitar, drum, piano or organ players.

Alynda Lee Segarra as a modern day country-soul troubadour
Alynda Lee Segarra as a modern day country-soul troubadour

Photo credit: der_triton via photopin cc

Deeply rooted in contemporary Americana, Hurray for the Riff Raff are constantly dipping into the rich heritage of old-time folk, country-soul and blues traditions.  Their 2013 release My Dearest Darkest Neighbor for instance is a collection of covers celebrating their most influential heroes (Townes Van Zandt, Billie Holliday, Leadbelly, Elizabeth Cotton, John Lennon, Gillian Welch, Lucinda Williams etc.) But Hurray for the Riff Raff represent a lot more than a traditional folk-revival band.

Driven by the same the spirit of social justice that animated the Woody Guthries of the past, Hurray for the Riff Raff stand up for a strong social and political consciousness. The influence of Punk-rock bands like Bikini Kill and the radical feminism of the Riot grrrl movement, the Occupy movement or Hip Hop music all feed into Alynda Lee Segarra’s songwriting process.

Hurray For The Riff Raff - Small Town Heroes (2014)
Hurray For The Riff Raff – Small Town Heroes (2014)

We really feel at home with a lot of worlds of people that don’t really seem to fit together […] and we find a way to make them all hang out with our music. Whether it’s the queer community or some freight train-riding kids or some older guys who love classic country, a lot of folks feel like mainstream culture isn’t directed at them. We’re for those people […] These songs are for the riff raff. Alynda Lee Segarra

Infused by the unique community spirit of New Orleans and released on 11th February 2014 last on ATO Records, Small Town Heroes is the band’s sixth full length album.

A superb nod to doo-wop-style vocal harmonies and co-written with frequent collaborator, singer and guitarist Sam Doores of the Deslondes, “St. Roch Blues” is a moving tribute to the victims of the series of murders that shook the St. Roch neighbourhood of New Orleans in 2011.