Western swing music is a subgenre of American country music that originated in the late 1920s in the West and South among the region's Western string bands. It is dance music with an up-tempo beat, which attracted huge crowds to dance halls and clubs in Texas and California during the 1930s and 1940s until a federal war-time nightclub tax in 1944 contributed to the genre's decline; the movement was an outgrowth of jazz. The music is an amalgamation of rural, polka, Dixieland jazz and blues blended with swing; the electrically amplified stringed instruments the steel guitar, give the music a distinctive sound. Incarnations have included overtones of bebop. Western swing differs in several ways from the music played by the nationally popular horn-driven big swing bands of the same era. In Western bands fully orchestrated bands and other instruments followed the fiddle's lead. Additionally, although popular horn bands tended to arrange and score their music, most Western bands improvised either by soloists or collectively.
Prominent groups during the peak of Western swing's popularity included The Light Crust Doughboys, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies, Spade Cooley and His Orchestra and Hank Thompson And His Brazos Valley Boys. Contemporary groups include the Hot Club of Cowtown. According to Merle Travis, "Western swing is nothing more than a group of talented country boys, unschooled in music, but playing the music they feel, beating a solid two-four rhythm to the harmonies that buzz around their brains; when it escapes in all its musical glory, my friend, you have Western swing." Western swing in its beginnings was just dance music. The term swing, meaning big band dance music, wasn't used until after the 1932 hit "It Don't Mean a Thing". Recording companies came up with several names before World War II trying to market it—hillbilly, old-time music, novelty hot dance, hot string band, Texas swing for music coming out of Texas and Louisiana. Most of the big Western dance bandleaders referred to themselves as Western bands and their music as Western dance music, many adamantly refusing the hillbilly label.
Bob Wills and others believed the term Western swing was used for his music while he and his band were still in Tulsa, Oklahoma between 1939 and 1942. The Los Angeles-area Wilmington Press carried ads for an unidentified "Western Swing Orchestra" at a local nightspot in April 1942; that winter, influential LA-area jazz and swing disc jockey Al Jarvis held a radio contest for top popular band leaders. The winner would be named "the King of Swing"; when Spade Cooley unexpectedly received the most votes, besting Benny Goodman and Harry James, Jarvis declared Cooley to be the King of Western Swing. On the other hand, The Billboard, in its January 29, 1944 issue, reported Cooley came fourth in the orchestra section, behind Sammy Kaye, Freddie Martin, Jimmy Dorsey. Around 1942, Cooley's promoter, disc jockey "Foreman" Phillips, began using "Western swing" to advertise his client; the first known use of the term Western swing in a national periodical was the June 10, 1944 issue of The Billboard: "...what with the trend to Western music in this section, Cooley's Western swing band is a natural....
Music is not the true Western type... Dancers can foxtrot or do a slow jitter to it." A more known "first use" was an October 1944 Billboard item mentioning a forthcoming songbook by Cooley titled Western Swing. This, however was preceded by this item on page 11 of the May 1944 Billboard. "Spade Cooley, who moved in with his Western swing boys several months ago, has released the Breakfast Club. Cooley moved up from Phillips' County barn dances at Venice, Calif. ballroom, where he was featured for 74 weeks."After that, the music was known as Western swing. Western swing began in the dance halls of small towns throughout the lower Great Plains in the late 1920s and early 1930s, growing from house parties and ranch dances where fiddlers and guitarists played for dancers. During its early development, scores of groups from San Antonio to Shreveport to Oklahoma City played different songs with the same basic sound. Prince Albert Hunt's Texas Ramblers out of Terrell in East Texas, the East Texas Serenaders in Lindale, both added jazz elements to traditional music in the half of the 1920s through the early 1930s.
Fred "Papa" Calhoun recalled that around 1930, he played in a band in Decatur, Texas that played "a lot of swing stuff like the Louisiana Five was playing back in those days. We liked Red Nichols and Bix Beiderbecke." In the early 1930s, Bob Wills and Milton Brown co-founded the string band that became the Light Crust Doughboys, the first professional band in this genre. The group, with Fred "Papa" Calhoun on piano, was heard on radio. Photographs of the Light Crust Doughboys taken as early as 1931 show two guitars along with fiddle player Wills. On February 9, 1932, his brother Derwood, Bob Wills, C. G. "Sleepy" Johnson were recorded by Victor Records at the Jefferson Hotel in Dallas, Texas under the name The Fort Worth Doughboys. Derwood Brown played Johnson played tenor guitar. Both "Sunbonnet Sue" and "Nancy Jane" were recorded that day; the record was released by Victor, Blue Bird, Montgomery Ward, Sunrise. Montgomery Ward credited "Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies"; when Brown left the Doughboys in 1932, he took his brother to play rhythm guitar in what became The Musical Brownies.
In January 1933, fiddler Cecil Brower, playing harmony, joined Jesse Ashlock to crea
The United Kingdom the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world; the Irish Sea lies between Great Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world, it is the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017. The UK is constitutional monarchy; the current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state.
The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area; the United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution; the nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language and political systems of many of its former colonies; the United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a high Human Development Index rating, ranking 14th in the world, it was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, military and political influence internationally, it is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.
It has been a leading member state of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, since 1973. The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization; the 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term "United Kingdom" has been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain, although its official name from 1707 to 1800 was "Great Britain"; the Acts of Union 1800 united the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name was changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Although the United Kingdom is a sovereign country, Scotland and Northern Ireland are widely referred to as countries. The UK Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom; some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom refer to Scotland and Northern Ireland as "regions". Northern Ireland is referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice revealing one's political preferences"; the term "Great Britain" conventionally refers to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole; the term "Britain" is used both as a synonym for Great Britain, as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Usage is mixed, with the BBC preferring to use Britain as shorthand only for Great Britain and the UK Government, while accepting that both terms refer to the United K
Kevin Gerard Barry was the first Irish republican to be executed by the British since the leaders of the Easter Rising. Barry was sentenced to death for his part in an Irish Volunteers operation which resulted in the deaths of three British soldiers. Barry's execution outraged nationalist public opinion in Ireland and its diaspora because of his age; the timing of the execution, only days after the death by hunger strike of Terence MacSwiney, the republican Lord Mayor of Cork, brought public opinion to fever-pitch. His treatment and death attracted great international attention and attempts were made by U. S. and Vatican officials to secure a reprieve. His execution and MacSwiney's death precipitated a dramatic escalation in violence as the Irish War of Independence entered its bloodiest phase. Due to his refusal to inform, Barry became one of the most celebrated Irish republicans. Kevin Barry was born on 20 January 1902, at Dublin, to Thomas and Mary Barry; the fourth of seven children, two boys and five sisters, Kevin was baptised in St Andrew's Church, Westland Row.
Thomas Barry Sr. worked on the family's farm at Tombeagh, County Carlow, ran a dairy business from Fleet Street. Thomas Barry Sr. died in 1908, aged 56. His mother came from Drumguin, County Carlow, upon the death of her husband, moved the family to nearby Tombeagh; as a child he went to the national school in Rathvilly. On returning to Dublin, he attended St Mary's College, until the school closed in the summer of 1916; when he was thirteen, he attended a commemoration for the Manchester Martyrs, who were hanged in England in 1867. Afterwards he wished to join Constance Markievicz's Fianna Éireann, but was dissuaded by his family. From St Mary's College he transferred to Belvedere College, where he was a member of the championship Junior Rugby Cup team, earned a place on the senior team. In 1918 he became secretary of the school hurling club which had just been formed, was one of their most enthusiastic players. A Jesuit priest, Thomas Counihan, Barry's science and mathematics teacher, said of him: "He was a dour kind of lad.
But once he got down to something he went straight ahead… There was no waving of flags with him, but he was sincere and intense." Notwithstanding his many activities, he did not neglect his studies. He won a merit-based scholarship given annually by Dublin Corporation, which allowed him to become a student of medicine at UCD, he entered University College Dublin in 1919. His closest friend at college was Gerry MacAleer, from Dungannon, whom he had first met in Belvedere. Other friends included Frank Flood, Tom Kissane and Mick Robinson, unknown to many in the college, along with Barry, members of the Irish Volunteers. In October 1917, during his second year at Belvedere, aged 15, he joined the IRA. Assigned to ‘C’ Company 1st Battalion, based on the north side of Dublin, he transferred to the newly formed ‘H’ Company, under the command of Capt. Seamus Kavanagh, his first job as a member of the IRA was delivering mobilisation orders around the city. Along with other volunteers, Barry trained in a number of locations in Dublin, including the building at 44 Parnell Square, the present day headquarters of Sinn Féin, now named Kevin Barry Hall.
The IRA held Field exercises during this period which were conducted in north county Dublin and in areas such as Finglas. The following year, at the age of 16, he was introduced by Seán O'Neill and Bob O'Flanagan to the Clarke Luby Club of the IRB, reorganised, he took part in a number of IRA operations in the years leading up to his capture. He was part of the unit which raided the Shamrock Works for weapons destined to be handed over to the R. I. C, he took part in the raid on Mark's of Capel Street, looking for ammunition and explosives. On 1 June 1920, under Vice-Commandant Peadar Clancy, he played a notable part in the seizing of the King's Inn, capturing the garrison’s arms; the haul included two light machine guns and large quantities of ammunition. The 25 British soldiers captured during the attack were released. In recognition of his dedication to duty he was promoted to Section Commander. On the morning of 20 September 1920, Barry went to Mass joined a party of IRA volunteers on Bolton Street in Dublin.
Their orders were to ambush a British army truck as it picked up a delivery of bread from the bakery, capture their weapons. The ambush was scheduled for 11:00am, which gave him enough time to take part in the operation and return to class in time for an examination he had at 2:00pm; the truck arrived late, was under the command of Sergeant Banks. Armed with a.38 Mauser Parabellum and members of C Company were to surround the truck, disarm the soldiers, take the weapons, escape. He covered the back of the truck, when challenged, the five soldiers complied with the order to lay down their weapons. A shot was fired. Barry and the rest of the ambush party opened fire, his gun jammed twice, he dived for cover under the truck. His comrades fled, he was left behind, he was spotted, arrested by the soldiers. One of the soldiers, Private Harold Washington, aged 15, had been shot dead. Two others, Privates Marshall Whitehead and Thomas Humphries were both badly wounded, both died of their wounds; the British Army released the following statement on Monday afternoon:This morning a party of one N.
C. O. and six men of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment were fired on by a body of civilians outside a bakery in Church Street, Dublin. One soldier was killed and four we
Folk Alliance International
Folk Alliance International is a non-profit organization that produces an annual conference, the world's largest gathering of the folk music industry and community. Founded in 1989, FAI is an advocacy, professional development and networking organization, is one of the five largest music conferences in North America; as of 2016, FAI has a membership of 3,000, a budget of $1,000,000 USD. Members include record companies, presenters, managers, music support services and artists that work in the folk music industry. Aengus Finnan is the current executive director, who joined the organization in July 2014. FAI has 7 full time staff members, 8 contract staff members who work for the organization from various international locations. Folk Alliance International is now the official name of the former North American Folk Music & Dance Alliance, their headquarters are in Kansas City, Missouri. The conference has been in Kansas City since 2014 and will remain there through 2018. Folk Alliance International has five regional affiliates that provide conferences in their respective markets: Southwest Regional Folk Alliance, Folk Alliance Region Midwest, Southeast Regional Folk Alliance, Folk Alliance Region West, Northeast Regional Folk Alliance.
FAI defines ` folk'. The organization consists of a large variety of songwriters, bluegrass, soul, old-time, global roots and world music, spoken word, cajun," etc. In addition to the conference, FAI provides a range of member benefits, including a non-profit group exemption program for U. S.-based organizations, an FAI/PRO House Concert Agreement Program, Visa Writing Services. They offer to their membership special discounts with various companies covering insurance, publications and manufacturers; the annual conference is an event that draws together music industry professionals from throughout the world to share ideas and showcase emerging, mid-career, legendary artists. Held over five days, the conference includes a keynote speaker, awards shows, over 2,400 registered attendees from 18 countries, 75 exhibitors, 150 panels & workshops, 200 juried official showcases, over 2,800 private showcases held late at night; the conference is always held at a local hotel, while in Kansas City has been at The Westin Kansas City at Crown Center.
Each conference has a theme. The 2017 theme is Forbidden Folk, is meant to "celebrate activism in art and look at the ways folk music has, in the past and played a role in labor movements, the civil movements, environmental movements, pacifist movements and political movements as the voice of the people". List of past and future conferences. Folk Alliance International official site The Never-Ending Revival: Rounder Records and the Folk Alliance by Michael F. Scully
Massachusetts the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island to the south, New Hampshire and Vermont to the north, New York to the west; the state is named after the Massachusett tribe, which once inhabited the east side of the area, is one of the original thirteen states. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston, the most populous city in New England. Over 80% of Massachusetts's population lives in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, a region influential upon American history and industry. Dependent on agriculture and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, Massachusetts's economy shifted from manufacturing to services. Modern Massachusetts is a global leader in biotechnology, higher education and maritime trade. Plymouth was the site of the second colony in New England after Popham Colony in 1607 in what is now Maine.
Plymouth was founded in 1620 by passengers of the Mayflower. In 1692, the town of Salem and surrounding areas experienced one of America's most infamous cases of mass hysteria, the Salem witch trials. In 1777, General Henry Knox founded the Springfield Armory, which during the Industrial Revolution catalyzed numerous important technological advances, including interchangeable parts. In 1786, Shays' Rebellion, a populist revolt led by disaffected American Revolutionary War veterans, influenced the United States Constitutional Convention. In the 18th century, the Protestant First Great Awakening, which swept the Atlantic World, originated from the pulpit of Northampton preacher Jonathan Edwards. In the late 18th century, Boston became known as the "Cradle of Liberty" for the agitation there that led to the American Revolution; the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts has played a powerful commercial and cultural role in the history of the United States. Before the American Civil War, Massachusetts was a center for the abolitionist and transcendentalist movements.
In the late 19th century, the sports of basketball and volleyball were invented in the western Massachusetts cities of Springfield and Holyoke, respectively. In 2004, Massachusetts became the first U. S. state to recognize same-sex marriage as a result of the decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Many prominent American political dynasties have hailed from the state, including the Adams and Kennedy families. Harvard University in Cambridge is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, with the largest financial endowment of any university, Harvard Law School has educated a contemporaneous majority of Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. Kendall Square in Cambridge has been called "the most innovative square mile on the planet", in reference to the high concentration of entrepreneurial start-ups and quality of innovation which have emerged in the vicinity of the square since 2010. Both Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, have been ranked among the most regarded academic institutions in the world.
Massachusetts' public-school students place among the top tier in the world in academic performance, the state has been ranked as one of the top states in the United States for citizens to live in, as well as one of the most expensive. The Massachusetts Bay Colony was named after the indigenous population, the Massachusett derived from a Wôpanâak word muswach8sut, segmented as mus "big" + wach8 "mountain" + -s "diminutive" + -ut "locative", it has been translated as "near the great hill", "by the blue hills", "at the little big hill", or "at the range of hills", referring to the Blue Hills, or in particular the Great Blue Hill, located on the boundary of Milton and Canton. Alternatively, Massachusett has been represented as Moswetuset—from the name of the Moswetuset Hummock in Quincy, where Plymouth Colony commander Myles Standish, hired English military officer, Squanto, part of the now disappeared Patuxet band of the Wampanoag peoples, met Chief Chickatawbut in 1621; the official name of the state is the "Commonwealth of Massachusetts".
While this designation is part of the state's official name, it has no practical implications. Massachusetts has powers within the United States as other states, it may have been chosen by John Adams for the second draft of the Massachusetts Constitution because unlike the word "state", "commonwealth" at the time had the connotation of a republic, in contrast to the monarchy the former American colonies were fighting against. Massachusetts was inhabited by tribes of the Algonquian language family such as the Wampanoag, Nipmuc, Pocomtuc and Massachusett. While cultivation of crops like squash and corn supplemented their diets, these tribes were dependent on hunting and fishing for most of their food. Villages consisted of lodges called wigwams as well as longhouses, tribes were led by male or female elders known as sachems. In the early 1600s, after contact had been made with Europeans, large numbers of the indigenous peoples in the northeast of what is now the United States were killed by virgin soil epidemics such as smallpox, measles and leptospirosis.
Between 1617 and 1619, smallpox killed ap
Ellis Paul is an American singer-songwriter and folk musician. Born in Aroostook County, Paul is a key figure in what has become known as the Boston school of songwriting, a literate and urbanely romantic folk-pop style that helped ignite the folk revival of the 1990s, his pop music songs have appeared in movies and on television, bridging the gap between the modern folk sound and the populist traditions of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. Paul grew up in a small Maine town, he attended Boston College on a track scholarship. Injured during his junior year, Paul began playing guitar to help fill his free time and soon began writing songs. After graduating college Paul played at open mic nights in the Boston area while working with inner-city school children, he won a Boston Acoustic Underground songwriter competition and gained national exposure on a Windham Hill Records compilation which helped him choose music as a career. Paul had released 19 albums by the end of 2014 and received 14 Boston Music Awards, considered the pinnacle of contemporary acoustic music success by some.
He has published a book of original lyrics and drawings and released a DVD that includes a live performance, guitar instruction, a road-trip documentary. In 2014, his children's CD Hero in You was published as a book by Albert Company. Paul plays 200 live shows a year. Ellis Paul was born in Fort Kent, Maine, a small, rural potato-farming town near the Canada–US border. Paul's family had strong connections to the potato industry — his father, Ed Plissey, was Executive Director of the Maine Potato Commission and his grandfather owned a 140-acre potato farm. Schools in the area closed for three weeks each year so that school children could help with the potato harvest. Paul spent many hours working on his grandfather's farm. Paul's mother, the former Marilyn Bonney of Buckfield, Maine, is a University of Maine graduate and was an extension agent for northern Aroostook County, she and her husband worked together on special projects for the service. In the 1960s, Mrs. Plissey produced her own television show "The Aroostook Homemaker" which aired every third week on Presque Isle television station WAGM-TV.
While attending high school in Presque Isle, Paul listened to Top-40 radio and participated in track. He played trumpet in the school's stage band where he was introduced to the big band jazz music of Stan Kenton and Maynard Ferguson, he excelled in track, becoming the Maine State champion in five-kilometer distance running, a feat that garnered several scholarship offers, including an offer from Boston College. Having graduated high school with the class of 1983, Paul relocated to Boston, leaving small-town rural life behind. In an interview with Daniel Gewertz of the Boston Herald Paul stated, "It wasn't until I went to Boston College on a track scholarship that I first heard folk." Paul was moved when he heard Bob Dylan singing "The House of the Rising Sun". It was that he began to take folk music seriously. Paul was inducted into the Presque Isle High School Athletic Hall of Fame on Jan. 11, 2013. Paul majored in English at Boston College, his best time in the 10,000 meters remains the fourth best men's outdoor record in Boston College history.
When a knee injury in his junior year sidelined him from athletics, Paul picked up an acoustic guitar to pass the time. He taught himself to play guitar with the help of a Hits of the 70s songbook, began to write songs. Boston radio included a classic hits station that played the music of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and James Taylor. Within a few years they became major influences. Having a career in music was the furthest thing from Paul's mind at that point, but as his playing and writing improved it became a bigger focus in his life. In an interview with FolkWax journalist Arthur Wood, Paul stated: "I started playing and learned a few songs by other writers to begin with. I started writing originals within a few months. My songs were pretty horrendous to begin with, they kept getting better. When I graduated, I started playing at open mics in bars in Boston. Discovered that there were folk clubs where people were listening, not drinking and carousing while you played. I got involved in that circuit.
I think that's why I've become so lyric conscious — because of those listening rooms, where you have to rely on words in those situations." The open mic circuit in the Boston area included The Nameless Coffeehouse in Cambridge, Westborough's Old Vienna Kaffeehouse and The Naked City Coffeehouse in Allston. Paul became a regular face at those clubs along with other young folk musicians such as Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin, Dar Williams and Vance Gilbert. In 1989 he won the Nameless Coffeehouse's New Songwriter Award. Paul played Cambridge's Club Passim, a venue that would become his "home" venue, for the first time when he opened for John Gorka in October 1989. Less than four years he performed his first shows at Passim as a headliner; the three consecutive nights of shows took place on February 19–21, 1993. It was at the Old Vienna that Paul met Jon Svetkey, Brian Doser and Jim Infantino, all struggling young local musicians. In 1989 the four young men formed a collective called "End Construction" and in 1990 released a compilation of songs titled Resume Speed: New Artist Compilation on the End Construction Productions label.
The four songwriters each performed four of his own original songs on the CD release. The Resume Speed liner notes stated that End Construction Productions was a small independent production
Josh Ritter is an American singer, songwriter and author who performs and records with The Royal City Band. Ritter is known for his distinctive Americana narrative lyrics. In 2006 he was named one of the "100 Greatest Living Songwriters" by Paste magazine. Ritter was 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 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 moved back to Idaho for a few months before moving to Providence, Rhode Island Somerville, 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 well at open mics there. With the money from merchandise sales, Ritter was 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, 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 becoming a word-of-mouth success, first opening for The Frames 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 appeared at Oxegen 2005, has headlined with artists such as Joan Baez, who 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 saw the release of Ritter's first full-length live album and DVD In the Dark – Live at Vicar Street, 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 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. Ritter re-issued his second and third albums, Golden Age of Radio and Hello Starling, on April 7, 2009 and January 17, 2010, respectively; each re-issued album was packaged as a two-disc deluxe edition. The deluxe editions contain both the original studio album as well as solo acoustic versions of all the original tracks and remixed bonus songs, never-before-seen photos and artwork; the deluxe editions feature liner notes written by Ritter fans, including Dennis Lehane and Cameron Crowe. In Autumn 2009 Ritter toured with Love Canon String Band, where he reinterpreted his songs with a band composed of banjo, double bass and guitar.
This tour included three nights in Whelans Dublin, where he performed his albums Golden Age of Radio, Hello Starling, The Animal Years in full. In 2009, Ritter provided the soundtrack for the documentary film Typeface, by Kartemquin Films. Ritter's sixth album, So Runs the World Away, was released April 23, 2010 in Ireland and May 4, 2010 worldwide; the vinyl version of the album had an earlier release on April 17, 2010 as a part of Record Store Day celebrations. The vinyl record came packaged with a CD version of the album as well. To promote the album before its release, Ritter made one of the songs, "Change of Time" available online; the song appeared in the March 23, 2010 episode of the television series Parenthood and the trailer for the 2011 Natalie Portman film, The Other Woman. In support of the new album Ritter toured with his newly named The Royal City Band – starting with six dates in Ireland – including a sellout performance at the newly opened, 2100-capacity Grand Canal Theatre in Dublin, continuing with an extensive tour of the United States.
So Runs the World Away garnered positive reviews. On February 15, 2011, Ritter reissued The Animal Years on vinyl and as a two-disc deluxe edition on CD; the deluxe edition contains both the original studio album as well as a solo acoustic version of the album. The bonus disc includes four b-side recordings, two videos, new artwork, liner notes by author Tom Ricks. During his early 2011 tour, Josh Ritter released an EP album of unreleased material from the So Runs the World Away