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    • Kate Laddish

    • January 24, 2014 in Columnists

    Rita Hosking brings western mountain music to Northern California and beyond

    Bluegrass pioneer Ralph Stanley often cites the old-time traditional mountain music of the Appalachians as being the roots from which bluegrass sprang. Rita Hosking Cherry-Tree-RHCJ-2013

    Mountain music. There is a spacious wildness in the term, a sense of rugged rawness. Modify it to “western mountain music” and it’s a fitting description for the riveting music created by Rita Hosking – even though Hosking grew up in mountains a continent away from the Appalachians.

    Hosking’s signature sound incorporates elements of folk, country, bluegrass and, yes, old-time mountain music into a sound that also feels decidedly and distinctly Western. Since releasing her first of six albums nine years ago, the award-winning singer-songwriter has become one of the successes to spring from the current California acoustic music scene.

    Rita Hosking and her band Cousin Jack (courtesy photo by Kora Feder)

    Rita Hosking and her band Cousin Jack (courtesy photo by Kora Feder)

    A descendant of Cornish miners – so-called “Cousin Jacks” – who worked and sang in California gold mines, Hosking grew up on Hatchet Mountain in rural Shasta County, California with deep regard for folk music and what she calls “the power of the voice.” Now living in Davis, Hosking has received increasing recognition with the release of each of her studio albums. The artistry of Hosking’s songcraft and her unbridled and uninhibited vocals are hallmarks of Hoskings’ albums and performances.

    Starting with her 2005 debut “Are You Ready?” Hosking established herself as a musician and songwriter unafraid of topics both poignant and powerful. “Kitchen Table and Chairs” – the story of her family fighting and fleeing from a massive Shasta County wildfire – remains an audience favorite.

    Hosking’s third album, “Come Sunrise” (2009), was the first of a string of recordings Hosking recorded with in Austin, Texas with Rich Brotherton (of the Robert Earl Keen Band), and served as Hosking’s entrée into the larger music world. “Come Sunrise” received substantial radio air-play in the US and Europe, earned inclusion in critics’ Top Ten lists for 2009, glowing reviews from sources as diverse as Dirty Linen and London’s Guardian/Observer and won Best Country Album/Vox Pop in the international Independent Music Awards.

    Hosking returned to Austin and Brotherton’s studio to record “Burn,” a powerful album that found Hosking incorporating new sounds while remaining true to her roots. While “Crash and Burn” has a touch of Texas honky-tonk and “Something You Got” has the propulsive power of the rock side of the Americana coin, these act as a showcasing counterpoint to the songs such as “How Many Fires” that bring it back to essential Hosking: acoustic guitar and a voice that California Bluegrass Association describes as a “soulful howl from the mountains.”

    The acoustic arrangements of the songs on Hosking’s 2013 EP “Little Boat” have a sweetly wistful near-gentleness. In April, Acoustic Magazine praised “Little Boat” for its “timeless, unhurried elegance.” This month, the influential UK Telegraph (London) named “Little Boat” one of the top ten albums of 2013.

    Hosking has a talent for writing compelling character- and story-driven songs filled with longing, loss, and love and hope. In concerts, Hosking performs the songs with a forthright honesty that is as powerful as it is devoid of artifice. Even when delivering sorrowful songs with minimalist acoustic arrangements, Hosking’s performances have an electric vitality.

    Hosking and her band Cousin Jack – the name of which refers to the Cornish miners in Hosking’s family tree – will play a number of shows in Northern California in late January and February before Hosking leaves for tours of the Midwest and the UK. Cousin Jack is Sean Feder (banjo, Dobro, vocals), Andy Lentz (fiddle, vocals) and Bill Dakin (bass, vocals). Special guest Kora Feder (banjo and vocals) will join on selected songs at some shows.

    For more information on tour dates, visit ritahosking.com and the venues’ websites.

    Rita Hosking’s up-coming shows:
    Saturday January 25 – The Palms Playhouse, Winters, CA
    Sunday January 26 – Acoustic Tune-ups at Joe’s Garage, San Mateo, CA
    Friday January 31 – North Columbia Schoolhouse, Nevada City, CA
    Saturday February 1 – Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center, Auburn, CA
    Sunday February 2 – Birdhouse Concerts, Forest Ranch, CA
    Thursday March 6 – The Freight & Salvage, Berkeley, CA Auburn, CA
    Saturday March 8 – Sonoma Folk and Bluegrass Festival, Sebastopol Community Center, Sebastopol, CA
    March – April 2014 – Tours of the Midwest and UK


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