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Josh Ritter

Ritter with the Love Cannon String Band Wexford, Ireland on the 20th October, 2009
Background information
Born October 21, 1976 (1976-10-21) (age 33)
Moscow, Idaho
United States
Genres Folk, country, rock
Occupations Musician, Songwriter, Author
Instruments Acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano, lute
Years active 1997 - Present
Labels Signature Sounds
Sony BMG/Victor
Associated acts Hilary Hahn

Josh Ritter (born October 21, 1976) is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. Ritter performs songs that range from folk music and country, with a folk rock sound.



Ritter was born in Moscow, Idaho in 1976, to two neuroscientists. At age 14, after hearing a copy of Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country” owned by his parents, 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 began writing songs as a teenager, while still teaching himself to play the guitar. He attended Oberlin College to study neuroscience, but later changed his major to the self-created "American History Through Narrative Folk Music". At the age of 21 Josh recorded his first album Josh Ritter at a recording studio on campus. After graduating, Josh moved to Scotland to attend the School of Scottish Folk Studies for six months [1]. Josh 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 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.[2] 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, reached #2 on Irish charts.

Ritter, left, in concert

His style is in the tradition of folk music and ballads. He is influenced by the lyrics of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Leonard Cohen, and the works of Mark Twain.

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.

Ritter's fourth album, 2006's The Animal Years, and fifth album, 2007's The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter, each received a warm critical reception.[3][4]

On April 7, 2009 Josh Ritter reissued his second album Golden Age of Radio as a two-disc deluxe edition. The first disc contains the complete original studio album. The second disc contains solo acoustic versions of the original tracks, B-side and remixed tracks, and two music videos.[5]

On May 9, 2009 Ritter married fellow musician Dawn Landes in Branson, Missouri.

In Autumn 2009 Ritter toured with Love Canon String Band, where he reinterpreted his songs with a band comprising of banjo, double bass, mandolin and guitar. This tour included three nights in Whelans Dublin, where he performed his albums Golden Age of Radio, Hello Starling and The Animal Years in full.

On November 22, 2009, after a European Tour, Ritter played at a Benefit Concert at Moscow Junior High School for Jim LaFortune, an Earth Science teacher at the school. LaFortune, who was one of Ritter's teachers, is currently fighting off a brain tumor. Ritter had attended the school from the 7th through the 9th grade.

In January 2010 he is opening at New York City's Radio City Music Hall for Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, who are performing as The Swell Season.

Current work

Ritter is currently writing the second draft of a novel. It has been described as a short little 'saucy number'.[6] There has been no official mention of a release date.

He has finished recording his next studio album recorded at Sam Kassirer's Great North Sound Society in Maine. The album is as yet untitled. It is currently in the process of being mixed. Josh (along with his band) have been working on the album for almost a year.[6] Ritter has assured fans at concerts that the album will be released in 2010. It is believed that the album will be released in two editions, Standard and Deluxe (The deluxe edition coming with a bonus CD with 'B-Sides', and possibly live songs).[expand]

New Josh Ritter songs (currently being played at live concerts) expected to be on the next album include:

  • "The Curse"
  • "Another New World"
  • "Rattling Locks"
  • "Angels Laid Him Away"
  • "Orbital"
  • "Light of My Lantern"
  • "Southern Pacific"

Some of these new songs can be heard at a concert recorded at Rams Head Live! on March 26, 2009. The Internet Archive - Josh Ritter Live at Ram's Head Live on March 26, 2009.





  • Me & Jiggs EP (2002, Ireland only)
  • Come & Find Me EP (2002)
  • 4 Songs Live EP (February 22, 2005)
  • Good Man EP (August 18, 2006, Ireland only)
  • Girl in the War EP (August 29, 2006 on iTunes, November 27, 2006 in UK)
  • Live at The Record Exchange EP (January 30, 2007)
  • Live at the 9:30 Club (April 19, 2008)


  • "Hello Starling (Snow Is Gone)" (May 31, 2004, UK single)
  • "Man Burning" (2004, Ireland promo-only single)
  • "Thin Blue Flame" (2005, U.S. promo-only single)
  • "Girl in the War" (April 11, 2006)
  • "Lillian, Egypt" (May 29, 2006, UK single)
  • "Wolves" (July 25, 2006, promo only)
  • "Mind's Eye" (October 15, 2007)
  • "Right Moves" (December 17, 2007)
  • "Empty Hearts" (March 31, 2008)
  • "Real Long Distance" (May 5, 2008)

Other contributions

See also


External links


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