Music

Josh Ritter Gets Down at Rough Trade in New York (Photos)

Josh Ritter always has the biggest smiles when performing but his new album Sermon on the Rocks has him jumping for joy.


Josh Ritter + Bhi Bhiman
City: Brooklyn, NY
Venue: Rough Trade NYC
Date: 2015-10-22

Listening to Josh Ritter's newest album Sermon on the Rocks repeatedly last month, I was struck by how different it was from his previous works. It possesses optimistic and upbeat feel, but still contains the strongly developed characters and stories Ritter is known for. Rolling Stone's recent review of the album really nailed my sentiments in their review when they said, "with his latest, Ritter has achieved the near impossible, fully reimagining his own art while still holding close to what's always made him special". I thoroughly enjoy his Sermon and, though I can't tell yet if it one of the best albums of the year, I do know it has cemented Ritter's spot as one of my favorite artists. Tracks like "Homecoming", "A Big Enough Sky" and "Where the Night Goes" are immediate stand outs and, on stage at Rough Trade performing these (and other) songs, Ritter demonstrated more joy than I'd seen before. He always has the biggest of smiles but now he's literally so overjoyed he's leaping in the air. I was glad to see him in the smaller venue as his many theater shows in 2016 are not nearly as intimate. Tour dates are below.

Opener Bhi Bhiman hails from St. Louis and his performance style is simple, solo for most of his set, but his song-crafting is rich and warm. He writes deep lyrics that audiences will ponder, oftentimes resulting in chuckles as his humorous wordplay connects. His album Rhythm & Reason was produced by Sam Kassirer, a member of Ritter's Royal City Band, and as Bhiman noted that Ritter's audiences are "some of the closest listeners", it was an even more fitting reason for him to open the show. Unfortunately, Bhiman had come out with no fanfare and in his thirty minute set, he never introduced himself, so I'm not sure how many people learned who he was (though he did make an announcement he would meet fans at the merch table). If you didn't figure it out, you can catch Bhiman when he returns New York early next year for Lincoln Center's 'American Songbook' series with Rhiannon Giddens and Leyla McCalla as part of the "Swimming in Dark Waters—Other Voices of the American Experience".

Bhi Bhiman:

Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band:

JOSH RITTER AND THE ROYAL CITY BAND 2016 TOUR

January 14—Austin, TX—The Moody Theater

January 15—Dallas, TX—Granada Theatre

January 17—Tucson, AZ—Rialto Theatre

January 18—San Diego, CA—North Park Theatre

January 19—Los Angeles, CA—The Fonda Theatre

January 20—San Francisco, CA—The Fillmore

January 21—San Francisco, CA—The Fillmore

January 22—Portland, OR—Revolution Hall

January 23—Portland, OR—Revolution Hall

January 24—Seattle, WA—Moore Theatre

January 27—Minneapolis, MN—Pantages Theatre

January 28—Madison, WI—Barrymore Theatre

January 29—Chicago, IL—Riviera Theater

February 16—Toronto, ON—The Phoenix

February 17—South Burlington, VT—Higher Ground

February 18—New Haven, CT—College Street Music Hall

February 19—Boston, MA—House of Blues

February 20—New York, NY—Beacon Theatre

February 21—Philadelphia, PA—Union Transfer

February 23—Washington, DC—9:30 Club

February 25—Durham, NC—Caroline Theatre

February 26—Atlanta, GA—Terminal West

February 27—Nashville, TN—Cannery Ballroom

February 28—Louisville, KY—Headliners Music Hall

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