Josh Ritter continues his path of musical discovery 

The next time someone waxes lyrical about the glamorous world of showbiz, consider the dubious joys of a 14-hour bus ride from Dallas to Albuquerque.

That’s a recent leg on the itinerary of Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band, as they tour their way to the Fillmore this Thursday evening.

Ritter says he’s loving the weather and the scenery. And the bus? “It’s a bus,” he says with a small laugh, “which is all that matters these days.

The tour is promoting his latest CD, “So Runs the World Away,” which debuted at  No. 41 on the Billboard 200. It is the highest chart position to date of his decadelong career.

At 33, Ritter still speaks in a youthful and gently halting pattern, which is very much in keeping with the soft, rhythmic style of his singing. The son of two neuroscientists, he planned to follow in the family profession but found it wasn’t his path.

“If they’d been undertakers — which my dad’s side of the family was for 200 years — I probably would have gotten into that,” Ritter says. “Sitting at the dinner table and hearing my parents talk about what they were working on made it seem like that was the only ‘real’ job to consider. They were always so excited about work, and they still are.

“Science is really an art form. What I wanted from science was that excitement of discovery. As I studied, I realized I didn’t get that same thrill. I got a thrill from writing songs and chasing down my own interests.”

Ritter’s parents were nervous about his newly announced career path “but they never talked down about it. I told them I’d treat starting this career like grad school. At the end of four years I should hopefully have a job. That’s how it played out, though it took a little longer than four years.”

He built his career the old-fashioned way, by playing the clubs and connecting with fans in a very grass-roots fashion, and is mildly skeptical of today’s instant-celebrity syndrome.

“I feel about ‘American Idol’ the same way I feel about Jupiter: It’s there,” he says. “It has no real influence on my life as long as it stays where it is. However,” he adds playfully, “if Kelly Clarkson wants to cover one of my songs, she’s welcome to do so.”


IF YOU GO

Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band

Where: The Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., San Francisco

When: 9 p.m. Thursday

Tickets: $25

Contact: (415) 346-0600, www.livenation.com

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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