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Jason Riggs: Blog

My Life is a Musical Genre by Jason Riggs

Posted on September 4, 2011

“What kind of music do you play?”

I get that a lot.  It’s a legitimate question.  But, one I still have trouble answering.

Everyone likes to say “I like all kinds of music,” but we don’t necessarily, do we?  In high school, your clique affiliation could be determined by your musical preference.  Stomps, Rockers, Freakers, Punks, and the most dangerous social sub sect of all…New Wavers (that’s what they were called before the term Goth was invented).

When I’m talking to someone new on a plane, at a friend’s party, or at an underground fight club in an abandoned warehouse, I fumble for words to describe my music.

“Well-it’s kinda like a folk sort of thing ‘cause I play acoustic guitar in coffeehouses, but there’s a lot of rock’n’roll and country influences, too.  Plus, when it rains, my guitar goes out of tune so I go off into a dissonant, cacophonous style.”

This seems to confuse the person.  They usually shrug, and say “well that’s very nice.  Too bad I’m out of town a lot and won’t be able to catch one of your little shows.”

But, if I’m talking to a real music hipster (you know the type, black turtleneck, black beret, French cigarettes), then there’s one word I use.  One word to explain exactly who I am and what I do with a six string.


Now, I first heard the term Americana in the 90’s from a custodian at Disneyland.  Seriously.  I had just gotten off that evil Dumbo ride and saw the dude in his clean white uniform sweeping a faux Rockwell-esque sidewalk.  I noticed he had the barest hint of sideburns that the Disneyland Employee Code of Hygiene would allow.  I have a nose for my own kind and started talking to him about the local music scene.  He seemed to like all the same tunes I did.  He told me it’s called Americana.  I figured he was from California so he must know what cooks more than me.  You know, cause I’m from Burque.

For a time, I started identifying myself as a singer/songwriter practitioner of Americana.

Now, instead of confusion, people thought I played gigs at places like Disneyland dressed up in overalls and straw hats with singing bears.

At least I had a genre.

But, all that ends today.

The good folks at Merriam-Webster have included the musical definition of Americana in their latest Collegiate Dictionary.

“a genre of American music having roots in early folk and country.”


Not bad, huh.  Of course, now the reader has to look up the definition of early folk.  And, they left out the rock’n’roll.  But, then again, I’ve always considered rock’n’roll to be primitive folk music.

I am now legit, baby!  So, if you see me on the street or at a theme park or in a coffeehouse, ask me what kind of music I play.  Go ‘head, ask me.

I will proudly tell you something or other. 

Jason Riggs is a singer/songwriter from New Mexico who plays Americana music.  He can  next be seen performing publicly at the Cherry Hills Library in Albuquerque, NM at 5:30pm, Tuesday Sept. 13, 2011.  He will be playing songs from his two albums that are sort of like a folk rock kind of thing.