by Paul Bowers
The organizers of a bluegrass festival on Edisto Island have announced that this year's headliners won't be a bluegrass band at all. Instead, they're bringing in Hurray For The Riff Raff, a New Orleans country-folk band with decidedly punk-rock roots.
The festival, now known as the Edisto Island Mostly Bluegrass Festival, was never a purist bluegrass fest to begin with. For its inaugural year in 2013, the big-name headliner was Shovels & Rope, a rock 'n' roll band that couldn't be called pickin' and grinnin' by a long shot. The festival drew a diverse crowd of bluegrass old-timers and young hipsters, and it sold out in advance.
Details are sparse so far on this year's festival, which will take place Oct. 25 at the West Bank Plantation on Edisto Island. Two proper bluegrass bands, Lonesome River Band and Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, have been announced for the lineup. Tickets are not yet on sale.
As for the headliners, who have toured with Shovels & Rope before, Hurray For The Riff Raff are a rowdy bunch for a bluegrass festival. As any article about the band is bound to mention, frontwoman Alynda Lee Segarra spent some time hopping trains before settling down in New Orleans to play for tips in sidewalk bands, eventually forming her current band, which she has described in interviews as "a very queer band." When it comes to influences, she's as likely to cite Bikini Kill as Billie Holiday.
Here's a video for HFTRR's song "I Know It's Wrong (But That's Alright)" featuring roller skate gangs, chloroform, and a big scary knife:
And here's "The Body Electric," an anti-misogyny track dedicated to Damini, a woman who died as the result of a gang rape on a Delhi bus in 2012: