About Josh Ritter
Josh Ritter is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and author who performs and records with the Royal City Band. Ritter is known for his distinctive Americana style and narrative lyrics. In 2006 he was named one of the "100 Greatest Living Songwriters" by Paste magazine.
Ritter was born and raised in Moscow, Idaho. As a teenager, after hearing Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan's "Girl from the North Country" on his parents' copy of Nashville Skyline, he attempted to write songs on a lute that his father had built, before abandoning the lute and buying his first guitar at K-Mart. Ritter graduated from Moscow High School in 1995 and attended Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio to study neuroscience, but later changed his major to the self-created "American History Through Narrative Folk Music". At the age of 21, Ritter recorded his first album, Josh Ritter, at a recording studio on campus.
After graduating Ritter moved to Scotland to attend the School of Scottish Folk Studies for six months. He then moved back to Idaho for a few months before moving to Providence, Rhode Island, then Somerville, Massachusetts, where he worked temporary jobs and played at open mic nights. During this time Ritter sold copies of his album and was spotted by Irish musician Glen Hansard and his band the Frames, who invited him to return with them to Ireland. As an early sign of his success to come, Ritter found on the trip to Ireland that his album sold particularly well at open mics there. With the money from merchandise sales, Ritter was eventually able to quit his day job and devote himself to music full-time.
A year and a half after recording Josh Ritter, Ritter recorded his second album, Golden Age of Radio, for $1000 and self-published it. The album was recorded in three different studios: Soundgun in Philadelphia, Electric Cave in New Hampshire, and a friend's basement studio. While promoting Golden Age of Radio, he met Jim Olsen, head of independent record label Signature Sounds, who offered to remaster and re-release the album after hearing Ritter play. The song "Me & Jiggs" was subsequently released as a single in Ireland, where Ritter was quickly becoming a word-of-mouth success, first opening for the Frames, then headlining his own shows. Ritter's third record, Hello Starling, produced by former Frames guitarist Dave Odlum, debuted at No. 2 on the Irish charts.
In 2003, Ritter shared top billing with the French Kicks at Sepomana, the annual music festival produced by WRMC 91.1 FM. Ritter and Ron Sexsmith headlined the Friday night singer-songwriter event at the Hotel Viking at the 2004 Newport Folk Festival. He also appeared at Oxegen 2005, and has headlined with artists such as Joan Baez, who later released her own version of Ritter's song "Wings" on her album Dark Chords on a Big Guitar. He was signed by a British label, V2 Records, in 2005 and Hello Starling was subsequently re-released. He began performing and touring in a crossover duo with the classical violinist Hilary Hahn in 2005.
In 2006 Ritter released his fourth album The Animal Years. 2006 also saw the release of Ritter's first full-length live album and DVD In the Dark – Live at Vicar Street which was recorded over two nights in May 2006. Ritter released his fifth album, The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter, in 2007. Both The Animal Years and Historical Conquests received a warm critical reception with Stephen King calling The Animal Years the best album of 2006 in his column for Entertainment Weekly. In support of Historical Conquests, Ritter appeared as a musical guest on such high-profile television shows as Late Show with David Letterman in America and Later... with Jools Holland in Britain.
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