I’ve been a mod housewife since 1993, when I decided I was not going to get down on my hands and knees and scrub the bathroom floor unless I could get up onstage and sing about it. I didn’t want to fight about sex and laundry with my husband unless I could turn it into a song. Somehow going to work at a crappy job made more sense if I could look at it as…research. Oh, I’d played music for years, but that was with friends, for fun. This is different. this is about sanity.
When she was she was thirty-seven, the age most people think it’s about time to grow up and settle down, Amy Rigby did the opposite and released her first solo record Diary Of A Mod Housewife. Diary was a concept album inspired by years of juggling artistic dreams, day jobs, relationships with the added challenge of motherhood. It was an early midlife battle cry complete with manifesto that ended “not…ready…to give in…yet.”
Diary Of A Mod Housewife combined real life lyrics and transcendent melodies with a passionate music fan’s collection of pop, rock and country influences. It was a critical smash and commercial success; voted #8 album in the 1996 Village Voice Pazz & Jop Critics’ Poll and landed Rigby on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, noncommercial and college radio and in every major magazine and newspaper in the US. Since then, she’s appeared on Late Night With Conan O’Brien, Mountain Stage, World Cafe, Whad’Ya Know, BBC 6 Music’s Marc Riley Show and PBS’s Speaking Freely. Amy has been a panelist and performer at CMJ, South by Southwest, Bumbershoot, Lilith Fair, Rockrgrl, Folk Alliance and Southern Festival Of Books conferences, and had her portrait drawn for the New Yorker. She was a staff songwriter for Welk Music in Nashville and has had songs covered by They Might Be Giants, Ronnie Spector, Maria Doyle Kennedy and Laura Cantrell.
Amy grew up listening to AM and FM radio in the suburbs of Pittsburgh and moved to New York City in 1976 to attend Parsons School Of Design. She saw all the bands at CBGB and Max’s, followed the Pop Group and Raincoats to London, and helped start late 70s downtown nightspot Tier 3 with a group of friends. She formed no wave band Stare Kits with Angela Jaeger (Pigbag) and began writing songs, singing harmony and playing guitar in country band Last Roundup with her brother Michael McMahon, putting out one album on Rounder in 1987. Amy’s next band The Shams, post-modern girl group beloved by Richard Hell and Robert Quine, released one album (produced by Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye) on pioneering indie label Matador in 1991 and an EP in 1993. The Shams toured the US, opening for both the Indigo Girls and Urge Overkill (possibly the only group on earth who can make that claim). Amy began playing solo shows and sending out cassettes of an early version of Diary. She worked with producer/guitarist Elliot Easton of The Cars to complete what dean of rock writers Robert Christgau called 1996’s “concept album of the year”.
Over the past two decades, Rigby has toured North America, the UK and Europe and released several more solo albums. She’s also made three albums with her husband, British pop legend Wreckless Eric, who she met while performing his classic 1977 single “Whole Wide World” and reconnected with at a Yo La Tengo Hanukah show years later. Amy’s record "Dancing With Joey Ramone" is a staple of Little Steven’s Underground Garage show on Sirius XM and kitchen sink anthem "Are We Ever Gonna Have Sex Again?" is played in cafes and bars around the world by real life mod housewives and husbands.
In early 2018, Amy will release a new solo album The Old Guys. When she’s not writing and performing, or helping Wreckless Eric renovate their shabby fifties house in New York's Hudson Valley, she pours beer and sells book at The Spotty Dog bookstore in Hudson. The daughter she sings about in so many songs now plays in a band of her own.