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Amy Rigby

Amy Rigby was in her mid-thirties when she released her first solo album, with more than 15 years as a performer under her belt, and 1996's Diary of a Mod Housewife made her a critical favorite overnight. A singer and songwriter whose music adds folk and country accents to straightforward, hooky rock & roll, Rigby's lyrics are filled with witty but emotionally rich and relatable observations about love, relationships, parenthood, and the musician's life. Rigby's songs have been recorded by the likes of Ronnie Spector, They Might Be Giants, and Laura Cantrell, but her own performances balance inner strength and playful snark with a subtle vulnerability that sets her apart from her peers. Diary of a Mod Housewife was her deeply personal and engaging debut, 2005's Little Fugitive was a simple but incisive mid-career effort, 2012's A Working Museum was a collaboration with her partner in music and life, Wreckless Eric, and 2019's A One Way Ticket to My Life unearthed home-recorded cassette demos from her early days. Amy Rigby was born Amelia McMahon on January 27, 1959, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and grew up on a musical diet of British Invasion hits and classic AM pop, an era she would celebrate in her song "Dancing with Joey Ramone." In 1976, she came to New York City to attend the Parsons School of Design, and while living at the New York University dorms (Parsons wasn't big enough to have dorms of their own), she heard about the new music scene that was brewing in the city. Before long, Amy was a habitue of CBGB and Max's Kansas City, and by 1979, she'd made the jump from fan to performer, playing drums in a no wave band called Stare Kits that featured vocalist Angela Jaeger, who had worked with the British avant-funk band Pigbag. Amy would meet and marry Will Rigby, drummer with the North Carolina-to-New York pop band the dB's, and he would produce demos for her band Last Roundup, a "cowpunk" outfit who would release an album for Rounder Records, Twister, in 1987. After the breakup of Last Roundup, Rigby joined forces with Sue Garner and Amanda Uprichard to form the Shams, a sophisticated folk-rock group who released an album for Matador Records, Quilt, in 1991, and an EP, Sedusia, in 1993. (Rigby has quipped that they were probably the only band that opened for both Urge Overkill and the Indigo Girls in the course of their career.) During the Shams' later tours, Rigby was selling cassettes of her solo material at the merch tables, and after the breakup of both the band and her marriage, she launched a solo career. Her debut, 1996's Diary of a Mod Housewife, was produced by Will Holder of the dB's and Elliot Easton of the Cars, and issued by the independent Koch Records. It was a massive critical success, and placed at number eight in the Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop Poll for the year's best albums. The album earned Rigby a cult following, and her second LP, Middlescence, also produced by Easton, was issued in 1998. In 1999, Rigby relocated to Nashville after landing a publishing deal; her third solo effort, The Sugar Tree, was recorded in Nashville and produced by Brad Wood. It was her last album for Koch, and she moved to the singer/songwriter-friendly Signature Sounds imprint for her fourth album, 2003's Til the Wheels Fall Off, which was recorded in Nashville, New York City, and East Kilbride, Scotland. (While the fourth album was being recorded, Koch compiled and released 2002's 18 Again: An Anthology that drew from her three LPs for the label, as well as adding two unreleased cuts.) She returned to New York City to record 2005's Little Fugitive, which included the song "Dancing with Joey Ramone," which would become a frequently spun favorite on Little Steven's syndicated Underground Garage radio show. Rigby had long enjoyed the song "The Whole Wide World" by Wreckless Eric and often played it as part of her live set. When she appeared at a club in Hull on a British tour, she discovered Eric Goulden, aka Wreckless Eric, was doing a DJ set in the venue's upstairs room, and invited him to join her and play the song. He agreed, and the two hit it off. They started dating in 2006, and in 2008, they were married. They moved to France, and cut a duo album, 2008's Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby, that was released by the re-activated Stiff Records, the label that issued Goulden's best known material in the '70s. The couple toured frequently, and a second collaborative album, a set of covers titled Two-Way Family Favourites, came out in 2010, via Goulden's own Southern Domestic label. A set of original tunes, A Working Museum, followed in 2018. Touring and leaving France in favor of Hudson, New York kept Rigby occupied for the next several years, but in 2018 she completed a new solo album of original material, The Old Guys, which was produced and engineered by Goulden. The following year, she published an autobiography focusing on her life in music, Girl to City: A Memoir, and in tandem with the book she issued A One Way Ticket to My Life, a collection of home-recorded demos cut between 1987 and 1997.
© Mark Deming /TiVo
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Discography

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