Alynda Lee Segarra, the Bronx-reared singer-songwriter behind blues-folk collective Hurray for the Riff Raff, taught herself music through immersion in Bessie Smith, Nina Simone and Billie Holiday. Her education continued in New Orleans, where she sang and played washboard and banjo on the streets after running away from home in 11th grade to hop freight trains. So what happens to traditional Southern music when a queer Puerto Rican feminist from New York City claims it for her own? HFTRR represents a portal between America’s past and its ever-shifting present, in which old forms meander in undetermined ways to undetermined new places. The radical girls-up-front ethos of the riot-grrrl shows Segarra used to attend on the Lower East Side is embedded in this music—unassuming and unstoppable, like a long, lazy river.
This concert is part of the River & Blues Festival, which continues on August 2 with a performance by Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio.