This article was originally written for the Anchorage Daily News.
With another tour under his belt and a new album on the way, Josh Ritter isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
This weekend, the singer-songwriter will be returning to the state for the final two shows on his acoustic tour highlighting small towns in the Northeast.
“I love playing music and along with that is the chance to go to some amazing places,” said Ritter. “I love playing big towns… but something about playing in places that sometimes, a lot of people don’t get to — and you really get a chance to see certain places that you don’t get to otherwise.”
The self-taught musician has released nine studio albums and five live albums during his career that spans over two decades. His 2013 album, “The Beast in Its Tracks” debuted at No. 22 on the Billboard 200.
Ritter’s seamless mix of folk-rock and gospel with thoughtful lyrics makes him stand out from the crowd. In 2006, Paste Magazine listed him as one of the greatest living songwriters. His most recent album, “Gathering,” is a soothing blend of songs, perfect for a long drive or a night in.
Ritter has made three previous visits to the 49th state — all of which have been in the wintertime. He grew up in Northern Idaho. Alaska’s weather reminds him of his small town roots.
“Being on the road and getting the chance to go out and see the country and play these songs which are so important to me and share these nights with people who have made the sacrifice to come to a show… that’s such an amazing, special thing,” said Ritter.
Typically, Ritter is joined on tour by his band members which make up The Royal City Band, but will only share the stage with long-time bandmate, Zachariah Hickman for his acoustic tour.
Ritter says that playing an acoustic show allows him to go to “all kinds of different places” with his music.
“The things that I’ve gotten out of music are friendship and family and a purpose in life,” Ritter said. “It’s so freeing. It’s a real touchdown for me.”
His performances in Alaska will highlight some of his older music from perfectly polished albums like “The Animal Years” and “So Runs The World Away,” as well as some new material that he’s been working on. Ritter says fans should expect a new record out in April of this year.
“When I first started making records, I was selling them at open mics,” said Ritter. “I was so blown away by the miracle — that someone would want to buy a record — that would want to spend more time with the songs. It really does seem like a miracle.”
Ritter’s Small Town City Tour kicked off in late September 2018 in Flagstaff, Arizona; the final show will be at the Vagabond Blues in Palmer, which is sold out.
Anna Tivel, Portland-based singer-songwriter, will open for Ritter’s Anchorage show.
You can see Ritter live at the Discovery Theatre in Anchorage on Jan. 12 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can still be purchased here.