Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band | Carolina Theatre | Clubs & Concerts | Indy Week
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Josh Ritter

Josh Ritter

Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band 

When: Tue., May 11, 8 p.m. 2010
Price: $20–$25

"Folk Bloodbath," the most stunning song from So Runs the World Away, the latest in a string of captivating albums by Josh Ritter, tells you all you need to know about its writer's music in a little more than five minutes. The tune opens with Louis Collins, the much-mourned character of the Mississippi John Hurt murder ballad of the same name. In Ritter's vision, Collins loves Delia Green, the woman of whom Dylan and Cash and most everyone else has sung after she was murdered by her lover. Collins feels the pain his mom felt when he was killed, and now it's his turn to die. That venomous folk antihero Stagger Lee shoots Collins in the back of the head, only to be sentenced to death by "Hangin'" Billy Lyons—yes, the same man who, in folklore, Lee himself killed. Ritter, pensive and worried, surveys the damage and mourns for himself: "I'm looking over rooftops/ And I'm hoping it ain't true/ That the same god looks out for them looks out for me and you." Educated and elegant, with the wisdom of a starry-eyed cynic and the melodies of a top-notch craftsman, Ritter's songwriting is among the best of his generation. Dawn Landes—a Brooklyn songwriter who sings gracefully, whether the songs are gentle or jarring, and who married Ritter last year—opens. —Grayson Currin

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