The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Arts September 15, 2006

Josh Ritter OC 99 and Zack Hickman OC 01 Make Return

I haven’t seen a decent handlebar moustache since I was grandpa-sitting this past summer. I bet you all haven’t seen one in a while either. Well, here’s your chance: come see Josh Ritter and his band next Wednesday, Sept. 20, at 8 p.m. in Finney Chapel to see a prime specimen on bassist Zack Hickman. In addition, Ritter and Hickman are Oberlin graduates (OC ’99 and OC ’01, respectively) so you might even be able to sweet talk them into letting you take a picture of it.

You could probably sell that picture in Ireland for at least 50 Euros, because apparently Ritter is as famous as Bono across the Atlantic. He’s getting big here in the United States, too. Major media players like The New York Times and The Onion reviewed his latest album, The Animal Years (a collaboration with Modest Mouse producer Brian Deck), and he recently made his national television debut on The Conan O’Brien Show.

Ritter, hailing from   Moscow, Idaho, produced his first album at Oberlin and has been working hard ever since, putting out four full albums and touring almost non-stop. He has picked up some talented musicians in the meantime, including Hickman, pianist Sam Kassirer and percussionist Dave Hingerty.

Although largely classified as a folk artist, Ritter’s music ranges from political commentary to old time storytelling to wicked love ballads. Even if you don’t like folk music, Ritter is easy on the eyes and the band tends to have an irresistibly good time, with all of them grinning fit to kill.

This may be the last time you folks will be able to see Ritter at his alma mater, and that means it could be your last chance to peep Hickman flaunting his killer stash, as well. In any case, get out to Finney Chapel next Wednesday. That way, in twenty years when Ritter has gone through his blue-collar rock stage and begins getting back to his roots by putting out a Pete Seeger cover album, you can say you saw him back when he was doing folk music the first time around.


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