Hi. I’m Walking Bob, and I was walking along F Street when I heard the sound of a banjo and a beautiful voice wafting out the open door of Armadillo Music. When I walked in to ask Paul which CD the song was from, I realized that somehow they had packed four musicians and an appreciative crowd into Armadillo for a free live concert with Rita Hosking and Cousin Jack.
I have to say that the acoustics as the music bounced off the collections of vinyl, CD’s and DVD’s was better than the sound you can pick up from the spot I’d first heard them performing near the “food court” on a Saturday at Farmer’s Market. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who had crammed into the aisles to hear the music. The audience ranged from preschoolers just swaying with the beat to avid fans calling out the names of favorite songs.
Since it was a Davis ArtAbout night, there was also a collection of sketches by Pete Scully gracing the walls and Pete was sketching the group as they played. Pete told me that he used to be shy about trying to sketch in front of others, but the music was so good that he just relaxed and enjoyed the opportunity to capture Rita, Sean, Andy and Bill as they played and sang.
Rita’s roots are in Shasta County where her grandmother arrived by covered wagon and where her father worked at one of the logging sawmills. A great grandfather had been a coal miner back in Cornwall and Rita’s music captures the spirit of the rural life of her ancestors and her childhood. Her sister, Sheri, loves her kid sister’s music, but says some of it is so painfully real that she has to leave the room during certain songs.
Her latest CD, “Come Sunrise,” won the “Best Country Album” in the 2010 Independent Music Awards. Original lyrics like “Just when you think you finally got things right, ghosts from your past creep up and haunt you at night” bring a chill while other music is full of joy and exuberance with the strong accompaniment of her three musical partners, known collectively as Cousin Jack. Reviewer, Stuart Mason, described her music as “fragile as a newborn baby, and defiant as a West Virginia coal miner.”
Rita taught at Emerson Junior High for years and is technically still on leave as she travels the country, and the world, in hopes of forging a career in music. You can help out that process by “sponsoring” her next CD, as she explains at her website. If you’ve never heard her sing, you can watch her YouTube videos and you can pick up her CD’s at Armadillo Music.
You also have an opportunity to catch Rita with Cousin Jack on Saturday, February 19, in downtown Davis. They will be appearing at Odd Fellows Hall, 415 2nd Street, for the Pepper Peddler’s “Farm to School Benefit” concert. Presale tickets, which will be unique numbered commemoratives by local graphic artist, Eric Redpath, are on sale now at Armadillo Music or though the Pepper Peddler. Doors open at 7:30 with the show, which also features Portland’s Jackstraw, beginning at 8:00. Tickets are $15 general admission and $12 for students if purchased before the event or $20 at the door. If you pull together five other friends, you can get presale tickets for $10 each.