The oak trees of Louisiana are much like the state itself: indestructible and everlasting. With rolling, infinite limbs and roots that may damn well touch the bottom of the Earth, they represent the strength, endurance and influence of Louisiana’s crown jewel: New Orleans. The spirit of the city is contagious, seeping into your consciousness until you can’t remember a time when you weren’t aware of its power. But there is an ache that accompanies the splendor and the combination has an effect that stays with you. Performing this past Tuesday night at Philadelphia’s World Café Live, the New Orleans based band Hurray For The Riff Raff made their city proud, proving that the infectious nature of their beloved home is one that they carry with them wherever they go.
“ Rolling and tumbling trying to make it outta here alive
Rolling and tumbling trying to make it outta here alive
And if I’m lucky I might feel satisfied. ”
Accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, Alynda Lee Segarra opened her mouth and immediately silenced the crowd. Drenched in blue light and whispering into her microphone, the noisy room that existed just minutes before was completely still. The audience hung on every word, captivated by the performance in front of them and overcome by the songwriter’s solemn words and weathered delivery. It was a moment to remember and the ecstatic response confirmed that the crowd was hooked from the opening notes.
Segarra's lyrics are unadorned and cutting, but they are not without sentiment. Songs like "Crash On The Highway," "Little Black Star," "End of the Line," and "The Body Electric" all establish her ability to tell complete, emotional stories in a voice that is matter of fact and strong willed, regardless of what she is revealing. Her strength as a vocalist is just as impressive, filling the room and driving the songs with the force of a freight train.
" This is another song about New Orleans, as so many of them are . . . "
The city's influence on the band's songs is so tangible, that New Orleans emerges as a secondary character in their story. A story that's full of well-crafted, original songs with rolling rhythms, wholly indestructible and everlasting.