Carly Ritter is proud to be listed on the Internet Movie Data Base, just like her father, the late comedic actor John Ritter, although she says it’s a fluke. One entry refers to a crawl-on cameo for a film about parenting; others were for appearances in two recent shorts, “Slice” and “Monsieur Balloons.”
“Those were just friends asking me to play little roles, so I don’t know how well I did for them,” she says. “I didn’t get that gift from my family — my brothers are both amazing, and my little sister has it, definitely. But I think it might’ve missed me somehow.”
Yet whenever Ritter visited Disneyland, she got a warm, fuzzy feeling at the Country Bear Jamboree, hearing backslappin’ Big Al croon Tex Ritter’s “Blood on the Saddle.”
“It was really fun to think, ‘That’s grandpa’s voice!’ It was a deep, comforting sound that always took me to a different place,” she says of her country-legend relative.
“But Tex died a year before my folks met, so it’s too bad I never got to know him. He just sounds like this incredible, funny guy who had a million stories.”
It took a while to inherit her grandfather’s ear for music, says Ritter, 31, who plays The City this weekend, previewing her self-titled, 1960s-inspired debut recording. The CD, on Vanguard Records, is slated for release this summer.
She worked administrative jobs, toyed with becoming a nurse, then wound up at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, majoring in religion.
“With my parents, any choice that we kids had that wasn’t life-threatening or shady, they supported,” she says. “So when I said, ‘This is what I want to study,’ they were like, ‘That’s great!’ But my dad always added, ‘Don’t forget, you can always do a creative career!’”
Overseas, Ritter discovered English folk. Back home at Vassar, she scoured the school’s entire music library. “Then I started looking into American folk, and it felt like a door had been opened,” says the singer, who picked up a guitar and began making demos of songs.
The material wowed her old schoolmates Joachim Cooder and Juliette Commagere. With Cooder’s father, Ry, and Commagere’s brother Robert Francis, the production team (and couple) put a jangly studio topspin on Ritter’s retro, Lulu-style originals such as “It Don’t Come Easy” and the Kierkegaard-inspired “It Is Love.”
Ultimately, Ritter thanks her father’s genetics. “Because he had that artist’s eye,” she says. “We’d be on a road trip, and he’d go, ‘Look at that sunset! Look at that tree!’ He had that ability for really observing the world and its beauty, for being curious and always learning. Things that helped me as a human being, and as an artist, too.”