"Truly modern, 21st century folk music, Ridgway’s dark, tall tales often take place in the microcosmic miasma of L.A. and its outer desert, where his characters try to wrest meaning from the beautiful catastrophe of their lives." UNCUT
“Mixing folk, crime jazz, garage rock, electronic music, film scores, big-band covers, dark country-inspired excursions,- no question, Ridgway is a restless creative spirit.” WASHINGTON POST
"Ridgway's post-Wall of Voodoo output has, if anything,
cemented his neo-noir rep as one of American music's
greatest storytellers, the wild and wily Steinbeck of
sad whiskey railroads and rusted, ramshackle American
dreams." AUSTIN CHRONICLE
"Stan Ridgway is equal parts Raymond Chandler and John Huston, Johnny Cash and Rod Serling." NME
Stan Ridgway is a true original. One of the most unique and gifted singer/songwriters in American music, from his early days with L.A.’s Wall Of Voodoo, to his even more intriguing solo career, Stan Ridgway continues to create an impressive body of work.
been a long and influential road for the
songwriter/guitarist and original Wall Of Voodoo
vocalist. His darkly humorous, and richly cinematic
musical tales of the ironies inside the American Dream
have been compared to other classic songwriting
iconoclasts like Randy Newman, Tom Waits, Johnny Cash
and even hard boiled mystery writers like Raymond
Chandler and Jim Thompson, as well as twisted film
makers like David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino. The San
Francisco Chronicle said, "He conjures "Burroughs,
Bukowski and Brecht," while LA Weekly has called him
"the Nathaniel West of rock."
Pulling numbers from his own revolutionary past and moving into his own honed, sardonic style of present, Ridgway will be accompanied at the shows by Pietra Wexstun on keyboards, electronics and vocals; Rick King on guitar, bass and vocals. Wexstun and Ridgway have lived and worked in tandem for more than 30 years; her keyboard and vocal sounds are perfectly in tune with his not-so-typical stories of proverbial American tragedy and triumph.
scientist of sound and vision, Ridgway possesses a style
unparalleled, at least in our known universe. Making his
musical pictures for 30 years now, the singer-songwriter
and guitarist has emerged as a singular voice in
contemporary song. "It's a hybrid of all the music I've
loved and admired," he says. "There are no boundaries on
art and no rules to follow in music. A song is really
just a strong point of view."
Ridgway works in his own unique form of aural and sonic tradition, chronicling all that lies beneath the safe and sane surface. He craftily sets his dark materials to off-kilter and eerie melodies that echo the uneasy action of a cast of characters on the brink. His tales often take place in the microcosmic miasma of L.A. and its outer desert, where his creations try to wrest meaning from the beautiful catastrophe of their lives. The combination makes for a stunning stew of universal provocations.
"Mystery and irony are attractive to me but that said, I have no problem with entertainment," he says. "Orson Welles was a magician as well as a Shakespearean actor. There's a certain brilliance to that."
Ridgway has soaked himself in European soundtrack music, American folk tradition, primitive rock 'n' roll, blues, psychedelia, free jazz and all that is avant-garde. All of it has seeped into his musical vocabulary. "Life is absurd. But that doesn't mean it has to be meaningless," he says. "Froan early age music centered me in a chaotic world that didn't make sense."
Ridgway's uncanny ability for brushing Old World charm against contemporary disturbances and oddities just might define the disjointed landscape of 21st century life. "I've always liked tall tales, urban myths and ghost stories," he says. "I like a strong protagonist, as well as a story that unfolds with drama, color and detail. A song should take you away for awhile and into another world." Sounds like the definition of a Stan Ridgway song…
Raised in L.A., Ridgway began his love affair with Southwestern gothic 30 years ago as front man and co-founder of vanguard electro-art punks Wall of Voodoo, who he originally formed with the intention of scoring low-budget horror films. Ridgway sang on the band's debut EP and first two albums, Dark Continent and Call of the West (which included the accidental MTV hit "Mexican Radio"). "I sometimes use songs as a way to figure out the puzzle of how things fit or don't. When the balance is right, what the listener brings to it is just as important as what I bring to it," he says.
"I've always thought of songs like films in the mind really, except I'm the actor and the director, the lighting and prop person and DP too. When it's working, you should be able to see the song as well as hear it."
Ridgway is a rare performer and song maker, whose enduring sketches nail the human condition down cold while his characterizations of life remain absolutely fresh and alive. The primal urges that drive his creations--whether they're searching for a home in "Underneath the Big Green Tree," or acknowledging our collective heritage in his electronic reworking of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire"-- see Ridgway finding humanity in all stripes, as he celebrates the circus of our lives.
Ridgway's flair for concise character portraits was
first noted by uber critic Greil Marcus, who called The
Big Heat "probably the most compelling portrait of
American social life to appear on a rock 'n' roll record
since Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska." Author Mikal
Gilmore said it was "the best L.A.-founded record of
that year." Ridgway followed with the
existential-humanist Mosquitoes (featuring the anthemic
"Mission in Life," and the Euro-hit, "Calling Out to
Carol"). Partyball (1991) explored the outer-limits of
Ridgway's unique world, while 2002's Black Diamond was a
more Spartan and personal statement on love and loss.
"At the end of the day I really consider myself just an inventor, or like a link in a chain to a tradition of song and art," the artist says. Music and songs and recording are an obsession for me — sound and art. It's all in there, the ideas and things that influenced me. To see it and tell it your own way is the challenge. That's the last true, honest place to be. It might even be the new frontier right now."
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