Hurray For The Riff Raff and Spirit Family Reunion

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I had the pleasure of seeing some great bands live at the Sail Inn a couple weeks back.  I had planned to check out the show because Hurray For The Riff Raff were headlining it and I’ve been a fan of their music for a couple years.  I had been feeling pretty miserable the day of the show and had decided not to go after a friend canceled on me.  I went home from work and settled down to have dinner with my family, not intending to leave the house again that night.  I happened to check Facebook on my phone and saw a YouTube clip for one of the opening bands, Spirit Family Reunion.  I thought the name sounded cool so I clicked the link to check out the video and before I was ten seconds into the video I had changed my mind and was putting on my blue jeans; I knew I would regret missing this music.  I ate my dinner, kissed my wife and daughter goodbye, grabbed my camera and headed out to the show alone.

The evening ended up being some of the best live music I’ve ever seen.  Both of the opening bands were fantastic.  If you’re interested in checking out any of the bands who performed that night, here are some clips I pulled from YouTube:

The Deslondes (formerly known as Sam Doores and the Tumbleweeds)

Spirit Family Reunion

Hurray For The Riff Raff

Although I had originally planned to check out the show because of Hurray for the Riff Raff, I ended up liking the opening bands much more.  Singer and Songwriter Alynda Lee Segarra is the main creative force behind Hurray for the Riff Raff and I fell in love with her voice the first time I heard it show up on my Tom Waits Pandora station.  However, a couple years ago she traded her banjo for a guitar and the band’s sound shifted in a new direction towards rock/pop and I’m not as much of a fan of the newer stuff.  Still, she’s an amazingly talented singer and songwriter and I could listen to her voice all day long.  Here’s my favorite shot of Alynda Lee Segarra on stage:

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The highlight of my evening was the middle set, performed by Spirit Family Reunion.  Their music was so energizing and inspiring.  I don’t want to put words into the band’s mouth but they seem to have a vision for making their music communal and accessible to everyone.  I ordered a record from their website and it came with a songbook of lyrics and chords… awesome!  The same accessibility shows in the simplicity of the music.  It’s as if they are waiting for you to come on stage and play along.  The band’s music is difficult to describe: It is very steeped in American tradition, containing elements of gospel, bluegrass, country, and other genres but it is these things combined together and so much more.  It sounds as if they have taken gospel songs and folk standards and breathed their own life into them without losing the spirit of the original traditions.  I don’t know how many of their songs are originals but they all have a timeless quality to them–I would believe they were written yesterday just as easily as I would believe they were written 100 years ago.  Each song sounds like a celebration and it’s so contagious you can’t help but stomp your foot and sing along.  Here are some of my favorite shots of Spirit Family Reunion that I managed to stop and take despite the fact that I was so captivated by the music.

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All shots taken with Canon 5D Mk III and Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Lens

© 2013 Johnny Kerr Photography