Hurray For The Riff Raff is Alynda Lee Segarra, but in many ways it's much more than that: it's a young woman leaving her indelible stamp on the American folk tradition. If you're listening to her new album, 'Small Town Heroes,' odds are you're part of the riff raff, and these songs are for you.
«It's grown into this bigger idea of feeling like we really associate with the underdog,» says Segarra, who came to international attention in 2012 with 'Look Out Mama.' The album earned her raves from NPR and the New York Times to Mojo and Paste, along with a breakout performance at the 2013 Newport Folk Festival, which left American Songwriter «awestruck» and solidified her place at the forefront of a new generation of young musicians celebrating and reimagining American roots music. «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.»
Segarra, a 26-year-old of Puerto Rican descent whose slight frame belies her commanding voice, grew up in the Bronx, where she developed an early appreciation for doo-wop and Motown from the neighborhood's longtime residents. It was downtown, though, that she first felt like she found her people, traveling to the Lower East side every Saturday for punk matinees at ABC No Rio. «Those riot grrrl shows were a place where young girls could just hang out and not have to worry about feeling weird, like they didn’t belong,» Segarra says of the inclusive atmosphere fostered by the musicians and outsider artists who populated the space. «It had such a good effect on me to go to those shows as a kid and feel like somebody in a band was looking out for me and wanted me to feel inspired and good about myself.»