Josh Ritter on return to Ireland & 20 years of Hello Starling

Josh Ritter on return to Ireland & 20 years of Hello Starling

Acclaimed songwriter, Josh Ritter, brings his band to Galway's Leisureland on October 19th to celebrate the 20th anniversary of 'Hello Starling' and we had the pleasure of chatting with him ahead of his tour...

Though born in Idaho, Josh Ritter’s Americana music style was fostered and grew up here in Ireland. After Glen Hansard spotted him at an Open Mic in Boston, Josh began touring our country and the continent; playing music, creating life-long connections, writing songs and sleeping on floors. In fact, two songs which would eventually feature on his seminal album Hello Starling were written here. Now, 20 years after the release of that much-loved record, Josh Ritter returns to Ireland and Galway’s Leisureland on October 19th to celebrate its anniversary.

Josh Ritter Photo by Sam Kassirer
Photo of Josh Ritter by Sam Kassirer

When we picked up the phone to chat with Josh Ritter ahead of the show we were greeted with a joyful hello and exuberant conversation, indicating that he is as excited to return as we are to host him. “It’s wild. I’m psyched to be alive to see it. And I love Galway. I’ve played there a lot in the past and I love just walking around the city, it’s beautiful.” Josh is particularly excited to play in Leisureland, where his daughter loved to go swimming on previous visits. “I think that’s gonna be the challenge, to try and get them out of the pool in time for the show!”

Reflecting on those early days spent galavanting around Europe, Josh tells us there were “so many very intense moments from that time. Stuff was happening! I was sleeping on people’s floors, I was still temp working, and that was all mixed in with these bizarre moments like going over to France and recording in a little farm house, Seymour Stein (record impressario) coming over, the vacuum of being on tour with Joan Baez and The Frames, eating chocolate and watching French people walk down the road. It’s all so vivid!”

Now Josh and his Irish fans can now look forward to thinking back - something the troubadour isn’t all that familiar with. “It’s kinda funny because I naturally resist the idea of looking back. The way my artistic brain seems to work is that I find pleasure in anticipation. I love each step of writing because it allows me to move on to the next which, over time, streamlines into something I really enjoy. Each part of the process, from writing to performing the finished song and having the record in my hand, I like it all, but when it’s done, I’m ready to move on to new things because there’s more exciting stuff in the future. Once it was brought to my attention that it was 20 years I started wondering ‘what is my resistance to that?’ and I think it’s because those are some big feelings back there in that past time, big formative moments that are not always wrapped in a nostalgic glow, sometimes they’re just so bright that they’re hard to look at!”

Thankfully, Josh decided it was an appropriate time to revel in past successes and so the Hello Starling 20th Anniversary Tour was born, partially inspired by another Irish moment with one of Ritter’s musical heroes. “Several years ago we opened for Springsteen down in Kilkenny and that was amazing. Oftentimes, when you’re touring, you don’t get to see your favourite bands because you’re all on the road together but I got the chance to not only see one of my heroes but to perform on the same stage.” It was on the hallowed turf of a GAA pitch that Josh fell in love with the idea of playing a full album straight through in a live setting with “stuff either side to show where it came from and where it led”, just like The Boss!

Josh Ritter Album Cover
Album Cover of Josh Ritter's Latest Album 'Spectral Lines'

Josh Ritter’s show at Leisureland on October 19th will provide a rare opportunity to hear a record performed live, the way the artist intended it to sound and the way the fans have grown up listening to it. Josh himself isn’t quite sure how it will turn out but “it’s gonna be a lot of fun to find out!”. Find out for yourself by booking your tickets now via

Photos by Sam Kassirer

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