Austin's Rita Bliss Releases Bluegrass/Folk-leaning Debut Album, 'Peaches and Apple Pies,' July 19

Article Contributed by McGuckin Enter… | Published on Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Rita Bliss didn’t pick up a banjo until her mid-20s, but it didn’t take long for her to fall in love with its sound — and the rich musical traditions it represents. Though she was raised in Rochester, N.Y. — near the Adirondack mountains, not the Appalachians — her flat-voweled delivery seems to owe more to the hills and hollers where bluegrass was born. On her debut album, Peaches and Apple Pies, she combines those sounds with folk harmonica popularized in the industrialized north, and nods to the twang of her current Texas home. She’ll celebrate the album’s July 19 release with a special show on Friday, Aug. 2, at Cherrywood Coffeehouse in Austin, as well as other dates in Texas and New Mexico (see list below). Bliss also will participate in a tribute to one of her main influences, Nanci Griffith, on June 29 at Austin’s Cactus Café.

Geography happens to play a role in her lyrics, too. The album’s first track, one of two already-released singles, is titled, “Drive You to Kentucky”; others are “Love from Lufkin,” “The Best Bar in Texas” and “Mountain Time.” Such references help set the scenes for these 10 songs, many of which involve reflections and recollections about love and other relationships. In fact, Bliss says “Drive You to Kentucky” is about the first road trip of a relationship.

Regarding “The Best Bar in Texas,” full of clever lyrics and the chorus, “They’re all smokin’ cigarettes / no one seems to have big regrets / It’s the best place for a Thursday night / long as Charlie don’t start a fight,” she claims every word of the song is true.

The other current single, “Two-dollar Bill,” is a lovely, harmony-dressed midtempo tune she describes as “The mental and emotional processing of a long-lost and unrequited love.” Both “Side by Side” and the album’s title tune are love songs for Bliss’s wife.

Dom Fisher, an alum of the Grammy-nominated band Wood & Wire, produced and contributed bass and mandolin. Bliss also was backed by Noah Jeffries on guitar and fiddle, Patrick Herzfeld on drums and Jimmie Scott Calhoun on backing vocals. They tracked at Signal Hill Recording in Austin, where Herzfeld also engineered and mixed.

The Howlin’ Brothers’ Ian Craft described Bliss’s music as “sweet, creative and pure”; Americana Highways’ Melissa Clarke said it “sounds like idyllic summertime … soothing and conducive to daydreaming.”

That makes it the perfect soundtrack for the lazy days of summer.

Show dates

Thursday, June 27 – The 806 Coffee + Lounge, Amarillo, Texas

Saturday, June 29 – Nanci Griffith Tribute, Cactus Cafe, Austin, Texas

Monday, July 1 – Songwriters' Night, the Tigress Pub, Austin, Texas

Saturday, July 27 – Lockhart Arts and Craft, Lockhart, Texas (with HalleyAnna Finlay)

Tuesday, July 30 – Batch Brewing, Austin

Friday, Aug. 2 – album release show, Cherrywood Coffeehouse, Austin, Texas

Tuesday, Aug. 27 – Batch Brewing, Austin

Friday, Aug. 30  – the Rabbit Hole, Leander, Texas

Friday, Sept. 13 – Box Canyon Brewing Co., Socorro, N.M.

Saturday, Sept. 14 – Pie Town’s Pie Festival, Pie Town, N.M.

Tuesday, Sept. 24 –Batch Brewing, Austin