Josh Ritter made a return to Nashville recently for a sold out show at the warm and beautifully intimate City Winery. Ritter, currently on a tour entitled “Works in Progress” with the intentions of road-testing new material, did just that. As wine glasses began to empty and the massive crowd funneled to their seats, Ritter took the stage for his solo acoustic performance. Each song was new to our audience and also seemed so fresh to Ritter that he forgot the words to his opener, restarted it, and then laughed as he decided to forego playing the song altogether—a potentially embarrassing scenario for any seasoned performer, but the laid-back attendees relished the casual feel of the evening, and laughed along with him.
The new songs portrayed the classic writing and style of typical Ritter tunes, but there was magic in the air, each one setting the bar higher than its performed predecessor. Ritter had the crowd in the palm of his inspired hand as he delivered every stunning line–some somber and challenging, others conjuring cheers and laughter, each beautifully written and vulnerably delivered by the genius that stood before us, imparting work as fresh as the wine from the barrels stacked behind us. The audience never lost interest as Ritter smiled from ear to ear, evidence that he was thoroughly enjoying the party. After playing about an hour of new material, Ritter exited the stage, but returned moments later to joyfully gift us with some old favorites like “Girl in the War,” “Cumberland,” and “Getting Ready to Get Down,” his enthusiasm equally matched by the sing-along in the seats, and the perfect way to end a wonderful evening hosted by the remarkable Josh Ritter.
[These lovely photos were taken by the illustrious Nathan Pirkle. You can see more of his genius on display at nrpirkle.wixsite.com/photography]