Hat Fitz & Cara
The Talking Heads Southampton
added: 28 Jun 2014
// gig date: 24 Jun 2014
reviewer: Andy Snipper
Hat Fitz & Cara take to the stage and they look about exactly as you might assume from their music. Stage left, Fitz is a tall, rangy Aussie with a long grizzled beard and a bunch of old and grizzled guitars while on the right of stage Cara sits behind her drums, blonde and in command, all business.
To my great pleasure and the rest of the excellent crowd at The Talking Heads they are a perfect complement to each other and part of the fun of their set is the little ‘discussions’ over what to play next or how they met. Another part is the stories that accompany every song ranging from Cara writing a song for her mother to how Fitz hat came into being (his grandfather’s teeth in the hatband is a doozy) or killing Kangaroos in the outback. This is like an evening with a married couple who you have just made friends with – so much to discover and it is all fun.
All this banter shouldn’t, and doesn’t, distract from the music which is absolutely excellent.
Fitz is a fine guitarist in a raw Blues style and his slide playing is something to be marvelled at while his singing is dark and melodic, powerful but never loud. Cara plays her drums well but also turns to the washboard and the fife and is an excellent support to Fitz’ guitar – her voice is also his equal but much softer and with a delicious Southern Irish lilt to it.
The songs on the night included ‘Play Me Something New’ (about Fitz first wife complaining about his playing old Blues on a 1959 HMV record player) thru a gorgeous Frank MacNamara poem called ‘Eliza Blue’, covers by Jesse Mae Hemphill – a Mississippi guitarist from the North Mississippi area – and Memphis Minnie as well as ‘God Of Love’ which sees Cara pouring out some real Gospel and hammering the drums. Fitz mentioned briefly that he had spent some time with the legendary R L Burnside in Oxford Mississippi and you can hear it in his slide playing especially as they close on the monstrous ‘Power’ which had the crowd calling back with joy and volume.
Support band on the night were locals Johnny Boxcars, a three piece vocal band who mixed up some of their own with rockabilly and rock n roll classics and gave a the crowd a rollicking start to the evening.
The venue is a cracker – a decent pub with excellent beer and a surprisingly good sound system, friendly and a great place to listen to music. I will definitely be back.
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