10 New Artists You Need to Know: February 2014

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Hurray for the Riff Raff
Sarrah Danziger

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Hurray for the Riff Raff

Sounds Like: Pete Seeger via Ani DiFranco with a hint of New Orleans rhythm and blues.

For Fans Of: New-school old-school troubadours like Laura Marling, Mumford & Sons and Spirit Family Reunion.

Why You Should Pay Attention: Alynda Lee Segarra, 26, is a Bronx-bred Puerto Rican raised on the East Village punk scene, who bailed on school after 10th grade and drifted across the country to New Orleans, where she decided to make music — initially playing washboard – and a home. Her band's breakthrough after a string of self-released LPs, Small Town Heroes has roots-music geeks on red-alert (American Songwriter magazine put Segarra on a recent cover). Filled with fingerpicking, fiddling, blues harp, clogging and Segarra's potently understated vocals, it palpitates folk music's ancient heart but interrogates it, too: See "The Body Electric," an answer song to femicidal murder ballads from Johnny Cash's "Delia's Gone" to Eminem's "Kim." by WILL HERMES

They Say: "When I was younger, Ani DiFranco was a huge influence to me," says Segarra. "There are times in my life where I kind of wonder, 'Where did I get these feminist ideals? Where did I get this sense that I should be treated with a certain amount of respect?' That came from the woman who raised me, but also I feel like a lot of it came from Ani DiFranco's music. We opened up for her a couple years ago. She's been really supportive to us."

Hear For Yourself: Small Town Heroes' title track, a handsome, weary folk-blues with characters including a gal known as "the queen" who, naturally, "got all her drugs for free.":

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