Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band

Brief Biography

His name might not be on the tip of everyone's tongue yet, but Josh Ritter has earned glowing reviews and a very loyal fan base. When you hear this wonderful songwriter and performer, who includes Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen and Gillian Welch among his major influences, you will instantly understand why. He recorded and released his self-titled debut album in 1999, but it was 2002's Golden Age of Radio that really got him noticed. Signature Sounds Recordings soon picked the album up, gave it exposure on a national level, and the five-star reviews started rolling in. The HBO series Six Feet Under grabbed a track for their end credits, then Ritter received an offer to open for the Frames on a tour of Ireland. Soon his single, Me & Jiggs, was in the Irish Top 40; a headlining tour of the country was sold out; and a tribute band named Cork was playing nothing but Ritter material in numerous Irish pubs. Back home the following was growing rapidly with sold-out shows in New York City and Boston. It took 14 days in rural France in 2003 to record his third album, with much of the equipment coming from Curtis Mayfield's old gear. The result, Hello Starling, was released in September of the same year. Animal Years, his much anticipated follow-up, arrived in March 2006, followed by The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter and the live CD/DVD In the Dark: Live at Vicar Street in 2007, and So Runs the World Away in 2010. We are very proud indeed to present Josh Ritter on the Mariposa stage.


Josh Ritter Ritter is known for his distinctive Americana style and narrative lyrics. He performs and records with The Royal City Band.

After hearing Girl from the North Country performed by Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan on his parents' copy of Nashville Skyline, Josh attempted to write songs on a lute that his father had built before abandoning it and buying his first guitar at K-Mart.

He attended Oberlin College to study neuroscience (both parents are neuroscientists), but changed his major to the self-created American ‘History through Narrative Folk Music’. At the age of 21, Josh recorded his first album, the self-titled Josh Ritter, at a recording studio on campus. After graduation, he moved to Scotland to attend the School of Scottish Folk Studies.

In Providence, Rhode Island, then Somerville, Massachusetts, where he worked temporary jobs and played at open mic nights, Ritter was spotted by Glen Hansard and his band The Frames, who invited him to return with them to Ireland. An early sign of his success to come, his album sold particularly well there at open mics and, with the money from merchandise sales, he was eventually able to devote himself to music full-time.

A year and a half after his first album, he recorded his sophomore album titled Golden Age of Radio and self-published it. The album was recorded at Soundgun in Philadelphia, Electric Cave in New Hampshire, and a friend's basement studio. While promoting Golden Age of Radio, he met Jim Olsen, head of independent record label Signature Sounds, who offered to remaster and re-release the album. The song Me & Jiggs was subsequently released as a single in Ireland, where Ritter was had become a word-of-mouth success, first opening for The Frames then headlining his own shows. Ritter's third record, Hello Starling, produced by former Frames guitarist Dave Odlum, debuted at the #2 spot on the Irish charts.

In 2003, Ritter shared top billing with the French Kicks at Sepomana, the annual music festival produced by WRMC in Vermont. Ritter and Ron Sexsmith headlined the Friday night singer-songwriter event at the 2004 Newport Folk Festival. He also appeared at Oxegen 2005, and has headlined with artists such as Joan Baez, who later released her own version of Ritter's song Wings on her album Dark Chords on a Big Guitar. He was signed by a British label, V2 Records in 2005, and Hello Starling was subsequently re-released.

In 2006, Ritter released his fourth album titled The Animal Years. 2006 also saw the release of Ritter's first full-length live album and DVD In The Dark - Live at Vicar Street. Ritter released his fifth album, The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter, in 2007. Both The Animal Years and Historical Conquests received warm critical reception, with Stephen King calling The Animal Years the best album of 2006. In support of Historical Conquests, Ritter appeared as a musical guest on such high profile television shows as Late Night with David Letterman and Later with Jools Holland in Britain.

In Autumn 2009, Ritter toured with Love Canon String Band, where he reinterpreted his songs with a band comprising of banjo, double bass, mandolin and guitar. This tour included three nights in Whelans Dublin, where he performed his albums Golden Age of Radio, Hello Starling, and The Animal Years in full. In 2009, Ritter also provided the soundtrack for the documentary film, Typeface, by Kartemquin Films.

Ritter's sixth album, So Runs the World Away, was released April 23, 2010 in Ireland and May 4, 2010 worldwide. The vinyl version of the album had an earlier release on April 17, 2010 as a part of Record Store Day celebrations. The vinyl record came packaged with a CD version of the album as well. To promote the album, Ritter made the song, Change of Time from So Runs the World Away available for free download from his website on February 8, 2010. The song also appeared in the March 23, 2010 episode of the television series Parenthood. In support of the new album, Ritter toured with his newly named The Royal City Band, starting with six dates in Ireland, including a sell out performance at the newly opened Grand Canal Theatre in Dublin and continuing with an extensive tour of the United States.