Legend Amy Rigby to play in Ripton
Amy Rigby is a minor legend, and she’s coming to the Ripton Community Coffee House on Saturday, Dec. 1.
“She’s the sort of quirky singer/songwriter that appeals to young and old, definitely very Vermont,” said RCCH organizer Winslow Colwell.
Rigby has made her career out of writing and singing about life. Through the ’80s Rigby played in New York City’s East Village with the bands Last Roundup and the Shams; in the ’90s, she debuted her solo “Diary Of A Mod Housewife” in Williamsburg, Va.; in the 2000s she wrote songs in Nashville, Tenn.; and in the past decade, she’s released records with duo partner Wreckless Eric. Yeah, she’s been around.
Rigby grew up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Penn., listening to AM and FM radio, and moved to New York City in 1976 to attend Parsons School Of Design. She saw all the bands at CBGB (a New York City music club originally opened for Country, BlueGrass, and Blues, but became a famed venue of punk rock in the early ’80s). Soon she formed her own no wave band Stare Kits, then began writing songs, singing harmony and playing guitar in country band Last Roundup with her brother Michael McMahon. Her next band the Shams, a post-modern girl group, released one album on indie label Matador in 1991 and an EP in 1993. The Shams toured the U.S., opening for both the Indigo Girls and Urge Overkill. Rigby began playing solo shows and sending out cassettes, and was signed to the Koch label.
When she was 37, Rigby released her first solo album “Diary Of A Mod Housewife.” After playing in bands for years, she seriously entered the youth-obsessed pop music game well past the acceptable age, but that was the point of the record — an early midlife battle cry complete with manifesto that ended “not…ready…to give in…yet.”
“Diary Of A Mod Housewife” was a critical smash and commercial success. It was voted no. 8 album in the 1996 “Village Voice Pazz & Jop Critics’ Poll” and landed Rigby on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, noncommercial and college radio and in every major magazine and newspaper in the U.S.
Rigby has continued to record and perform for the last two decades, appearing on Late Night With Conan O’Brien, Mountain Stage, World Cafe, Whad’Ya Know and PBS’s Speaking Freely. She’s been a panelist and performer at CMJ, South by Southwest, Bumbershoot, Lilith Fair, Rockrgrl, Folk Alliance and Southern Festival Of Books conferences, and has had her portrait drawn for the New Yorker. She was also a staff songwriter for Welk Music in Nashville and has had her songs covered by They Might Be Giants, Ronnie Spector, Maria Doyle Kennedy and Laura Cantrell and used in film and TV.
See, what’d we tell ya — minor legend.
“The Old Guys,” her first solo album in a dozen years, measures the weight of heroes, home, family, friends and time. In the album, she pays tribute to Philip Roth and Bob Dylan, CD/cassette players, touring, the wisdom of age and Walter White, groupies, Robert Altman and, of course, egg creams. The 12 songs were written by Rigby and recorded by Wreckless Eric in upstate New York. “The Old Guys” is the sound of a good girl grown up, never giving up.
See her live on Saturday evening, at 7:30 p.m., in Ripton. Tickets are $10 regular admission, $15 generous admission, $3 kids under 13. More info is at rcch.org.