Last night I got to witness the soulful, bad-ass, girl-empowered coolness of the band Hurray for the Riff Raff at the Troubadour in West Hollywood. The musical identity of Bronx-born New Orleans transplant Alynda Lee Segarra, the show was a rhapsody of melody, fiddle-playing, guitars, folksy strength and a celebration of whiskey-tinged music, poignant emotion and queerly riotous fun.
That’s a lot of fussy talk on my part, but here’s Segarra, explaining her deal.
“We really feel at home with a lot of worlds of people that don’t really seem to fit together,” she continues, “and we find a way to make them all hang out with our music. Whether it’s the queer community or some freight train-riding kids or some older guys who love classic country, a lot of folks feel like mainstream culture isn’t directed at them. We’re for those people.”
Listen to the 2014 album Small Town Heroes and you’ll understand.
Watch the Riff Raff’s videos below and you’ll get it. Salty-sweet bar girls roll around the rink in the country-pop winner “I Know It’s Wrong (But That’s Alright).” When can I join the Gaslight Girls?
“The Body Electric” is Segarra’s moving powerhouse. It’s a beautiful ballad of love and loss, a rumination on violence against women and queer and trans people. The video (which stars Katey Red, in a mind-blowing/heart-stopping cameo) and song have been used as a touchstone for #TheBodyElectricFun which raises money for the Trayvon Martin Foundation, aiding families affected by violence, and the Third Wave Fund, which supports youth-led gay and feminist causes. Just watch. It’s f*cking stunning.