Hat Fitz & Cara’s musical style is a unique combination of folk, roots and gospel blues with old time flavourings reminiscent of a time once forgotten …
Hey guys. How did you meet and come together musically?
We met at a festival in County Mayo in Ireland called the Castlebar Blues Festival; it was 2008, and we saw each other playing in separate bands. It was pretty instant admiration for each other’s music and performance. There was no talking involved – just a last dance as the festival band played their encore and then a few words, and we went our separate ways until we met again in Australia three months later (after a huge phone bill).
Describe your style and how this developed. Was it an organic process based on favoured genres and what you were playing before you met?
Fitzy was immersed in the ways of Hill Country Blues, whereas I was deep into Southern Soul Blues. It was merely me following him on the drums and holding back from singing, as I had a lot to concentrate on just keeping time. I was really happy to be introduced to the likes of Jessie Mae Hemphill and Mississippi John Hurt, then as we started to find our feet in our own sound we shared in tastes, mixing Gospel into the equation, as we are both fans.
You use a raft of different instruments and noise makers in your performance. How do you guys perfect the craft of each of these instruments, and what do you each play?
Fitzy plays a Beeton national, made of brass and hand crafted by Australia’s own Greg Beaton, and he plays the Tiesco Mid ‘60s 4WSL electric guitar. I play a combination of a drum kit from 1920s Ludwig kick drum to 1939 Slingerland Radio King, two tone. Also, I play a washboard that’s been in the Fitzpatrick family since Hat Fitz and the Jug Slouchers, and I play whistle and fife. We both sing.
Fitzy has been playing guitar since he was 14, and I have been playing flute since nine, and we have both been singing for years. Getting out on the road together was the best practice when we first started out.
The dynamic you share is powerful, and you always seem to be enjoying yourselves. What do you love most about being able to work alongside your biggest love?
It’s hard to say what you most enjoy, as being a musician on stage generally you really want to support the other musicians; but yes – there is a chemistry that happens, where like any musician you switch off and tune in to the music, you’re there with the crowd and they’re feeling it too. Those are magic moments, and to share that with your biggest love is pretty amazing.
When it comes to writing, what influences you? Who does the writing generally?
We both write. When it comes to lyrics and melody lines, that’s me, and then when it comes to creating grooves and riffs, that would be Fitzy.
With regard to influences, I’m pretty moved by moments in history, human feelings in life experiences; trying to express what we feel in this day and age is something I’m most curious about. Basically, it’s writing about where you are at in life at present. Other musicians inspire me for sure; Alvin Youngblood Hart and Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks reminds me of way back when I was growing up.
Fitzy gets in the zone and plays for hours sometimes, and I’ll be walking past and run for my phone to record the idea, and that’s where a song sometimes starts from. Or, we will both be jamming out and hit record; if we’re lucky, something we like will come through.
We are excited to have you playing this year’s WIngham Akoostik Festival. What do you enjoy about playing festival gigs?
Lots of people together having an awesome time, letting their hair down, meeting other likeminded souls is the key. Also, getting to see and hear other bands … By the way, love the line up!
Tell us about your most memorable gig.
Now, that is a tough one. I would like to choose a gig I went to, which was to see Tina Turner when I was 14 years old. eEen though I was a soul girl at heart, I was wrapped in the palms of her hands from when she hit that first note. Man, can she bring it!
Fitzy’s would have to be going to see T Model Ford with Cedric Burnside, as they were playing the same festival at Byron Bay Blues many years ago. They hung out afterwards and talked blues ‘til the early morn.
Favourite song of all time for each of you and why …
I’m sorry; I cannot do that, as there are so many great songs! At the moment I am loving Aretha Franklin’s Rock Steady.
For Fitzy it would have to be Freddie King’s Same Old Blues.
What’s on the horizon for you guys?
We’re hoping to release a new single soon, Hold On, with the Brisbane City Gospel Choir, recording it in a renovated water tank at Govinda’s Studio, Gold Coast. We should have a video of us all crammed in together.
At present we are working on a new album, No.5 for us, trying to keep it pretty raw. There are a few things in the pipeline for a tour in Feb/March next year to Canada, USA, Europe and UK.
Where can our readers follow your journey?
Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/hatfitzcara/
Website www.hatfitzand cara.com
Don’t miss Hat Fitz & Cara at the Wingham Akoostik Festival, 19th – 21st October.