Words & Deeds

Treasure Valley fans make Josh Ritter feel at home

Singer-songwriter Josh Ritter made a shocking discovery last weekend: There's more to Idaho than Moscow!

"I have to grudgingly admit it now," joked Ritter, whose CD, "The Animal Years," sits atop the best-sellers list at the Record Exchange.

Four days after his debut Boise concert, Ritter, 29, still sounded slightly overwhelmed by the warm reception.

"It was unbelievable. ... I didn't know what to expect," the native Idahoan explained from his Moscow home. "I was so impressed that anybody's actually heard me and decided to come."

Bolstered by radio play, press attention and a recent late-night TV performance on "Conan," Ritter slayed during his Treasure Valley visit Saturday.

Around 200 fans rubbed shoulders at the Record Exchange during an afternoon appearance. A surprising 450 showed up that night for his solo acoustic concert at The Big Easy. (Photo on page 31.)

You could feel the love in the room.

"It was totally great — it felt like a real hometown show," said Ritter, who sold every CD he brought.

The next day, he ventured north for an outdoor concert at Redfish Lake Lodge, part of the "Music from Stanley" series.

Ritter wasn't sure what to expect. But that experience was "fantastic," he said. Ritter estimated that he played for 300 to 400 fans there.

"People came from all over. ... Salt Lake City and Montana. It was just really awesome. Then we just kind of spent the rest of the night just jamming. People had brought guitars or whatever. It was a lot of fun."

Ritter departs this weekend for a three-show run in Ireland, where he is one of the country's more popular performers. But he plans to return to Boise sooner rather than later.

"I'll be back," Ritter said. "And I'm going to bring my band next time, so people can kind of see that and everything. They would love it."

BOO! HISS? Despite advance buzz on the Internet, "Snakes on a Plane" is looking like box-office worm food.

The thriller took in just $15.25 million on opening weekend — still enough for first place. But that includes cash from Aug. 17 advance screenings. Otherwise, "Snakes" was No. 2 behind "Talladega Nights," which has raked in $114.7 million in three weeks.

Analysts have pointed fingers at everything from the title (it gave away the plot!) to unrealistic expectations (who really pays attention to Web geeks?)

Or maybe nobody really cares how many times Samuel L. Jackson says "motherf-----." (A sportsbook had set the over/under at 17 times.)

Still, the release wasn't totally without excitement. An unidentified prankster created a panic in Arizona by releasing a live baby rattler in the theater.

No wonder people are staying home with their HDTVs.

FAIR PRICE: Hoping to drive up attendance on sluggish nights, the Western Idaho Fair moved grandstand concerts to mid-week and made them free to fairgoers this year.

Country singer Terri Clark's show Tuesday filled the grandstand with about 5,000 fans. On Wednesday, rockers Shinedown drew around 3,500; that matches the turnout of the best-attended fair concert last year. Fair marketing director Kathleen Kuebler expected about 4,000 for Loverboy on Thursday night. (Scene went to press prior to the show.)

Looks like the fair's experiment was a success.

"We're happy with it," said Kuebler, adding that the fair will probably offer free concerts again next year.

HALLOWEEN BLAST: Built To Spill will play an all-ages gig Oct. 31 at the Egyptian Theatre. Tickets are $16 and go on sale Thursday. No indie-rock excuses, Built To Spill: You guys have to wear costumes. Call Gnarls Barkley if you need ideas.