Rita Hosking brings her songwriting genius to northern Nevada

by Brian Bahouth

Reno – Rita Hosking is from northern California and has played before live audiences across the US and Europe and says she finds pleasure in rural performances, so she and her musical partner and husband Sean Feder will be right at home on May 17 and 18 for a pair of gigs in northern Nevada. The duo will play the Martin Hotel in Winnemucca on the 17th and the Silver City Schoolhouse on the 18th. For a look ahead to those live performances, Brian Bahouth spoke with Hosking by phone and asked about her seventh and most recent recording, For Real.

Listen to an interview with Rita Hosking, a mix of words and music from her album For Real.

Hosking was a reader and writer of poetry before she became a songwriter.

“I studied poetry a little bit in college. I took a couple classes because I was interested in creative writing and I was really attracted to, I don’t know, I guess the brevity of poems, which are very succinct and yet open for interpretation,” Hosking said.

Multi instrumentalist Sean Feder is Rita Hosking’s husband and musical partner. Her career as a musician began with their relationship.

“He’s inspired me to play music in so many ways. When I first met him, he was a drummer in a bunch of bands, like a hand percussionist drummer. He played congas and bongos and timbales. He did like Latin percussion for Afro-Latin and Cuban bands and stuff like that. He also taught huge drum classes in our area, so that’s when we started dating and I started taking his classes and teaching his classes when he couldn’t make it and got me more and more involved in music,” Hosking said.

Over time their musical relationship of Feder and Hosking grew and deepened with their marriage.

“It’s turned into a beautiful partnership. He’s just the most supportive accompanist I can think of. He knows just right when to come in and when to leave and to give me plenty of space and add beautiful touches when necessary.”

For Real is Hosking’s seventh album over a career that has taken her across the nation and Europe, and aside from covering one well chosen and beautifully performed song from legendary singer/songwriter Kate Wolf, Hosking wrote every tune on For Real.

The song Good People has its roots in Hosking’s reflections on travelling to play music and a personal tragedy that garnered national attention.

“The most important thing I’ve learned is that there are good people wherever you go, which in theory, that absolutely makes sense, but we have to remind ourselves of that sometimes because we draw lines and stay on one side or the other and pretend to think that other people are so different from us, but really we all care about a lot of the same things,” Hosking said.

In the third verse of Good People Hosking refers to a multiple murder that occurred on a train in Portland in 2017 in which a white supremacist stabbed two men to death who came to the defense of a Muslim woman wearing a hajib.

“My husband’s nephew got killed by a white supremacist guy. He was defending some young woman on a commuter train in Portland, and this guy who was verbally attacking them, and he and two other men got between the guy and the young women, and the guy ended up pulling out a knife and killing two of them and almost killing a third, just slicing them across the neck.”

Hosking said the event raised concern for her children and the younger members of her extended family, so soon after completing the lyrics for Good People, Hosking sang it for her three and a half year old nephew at a family gathering, and he began to sing the song along with her.

“That’s great,” Hosking said. “I wanted it to be accessible to him as a kid, just to reassure him and to reassure other people too that even though these horrible things happen, most of us are good people.”

Hosking is from scenic Shasta County in northern California, and though she loves her home, her modesty is manifest in an aversion to pride in place or possession. The song California is a beautifully rendered love song of sorts, though Hosking was quick to say that her veneration of her home is not intended to diminish the beauty and significance of other places on the planet.

“There are so many incredible places, and I could see myself living there for whatever reasons and enjoying it, but my heart is here,” Hosking said. “It’s not necessarily a political thing. It’s just the west coast basically. Like I said, I grew up in Shasta County and hardly ever left it when  was a kid, but the more I get to look around America west of the Rockies, it’s its own world in comparison to the other side, which is really wonderful too.

“But basically it (the song California) is a love song because our state has been going through so much anguish with fires and the whole economic upheaval and struggle and people being priced out of living here who’ve lived here all their lives or want to live here and can’t afford it … just all sorts of reasons California is having a hard time, and yet I just wanted to sing my love for it and recognize that it’s not an all positive thing. It’s a mixed bag just like anywhere else, but once your heart gets settled somewhere, it’s hard to uproot it.”

For more from Rita Hosking, listen to the audio feature above …

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