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Gearing up for their Cairns Blues Festival debut, Hat Fitz & Cara Robinson absolutely embody the primal virtues of roots music: love, determination and concussion. One half of the duo, singer-guitarist Hat Fitz, has long been a favourite of Aussie blues fans. A tall man with a big beard and bigger voice, Hat Fitz has performed all over the country – including a record-breaking 18-consecutive years on the bill at the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival.
A few years back he was performing at Ireland’s Castlebar Blues Festival when he was advised to see a show by a fellow guest, respected Irish folk singer Cara Robinson. Cara was herself a fast-rising star in the Northern Hemisphere, establishing a strong solo reputation after collaborations with Jamiroquai and Corrine Bailey-Rae. Hat Fitz saw Cara perform and immediately fell in love with her powerful, sinuous voice. Not long after that he fell in love with the rest of her – but not before asking her for a dance and promptly rendering her unconscious by accidentally whacking her into a stone column. The pair’s trans-hemispheric relationship grew over the ensuing months. In the fullness of time marriage was proposed and accepted. Hat Fitz & Cara – the couple and the act – were born and Australia hasn’t been the same since.
And what a union it has proved to be. The duo’s latest album, Wiley Ways, produced by Aussie roots legend Jeff Lang, has been an instant hit in Australia and overseas. Hat Fitz and Cara make beautiful, raw, exciting music that never fails to grab me – Jeff Lang. It’s a common reaction. Wiley Ways recently won the Best Blues Album award at the prestigious Spiral Earth Awards in Britain. Critics have gone crazy over the album. Samuel J. Fell, writer for Rhythms and Rolling Stone, for instance, said:- Hat Fitz and Cara Robinson have crafted as genuine a blues record as you can hope to find in this day and age – simple, powerful, full of the inherent realism we’ve come to expect from these two. A stellar effort.
Both Hat Fitz and Cara have powerful, soulful voices, which combine to create a mesmerising vocal landscape. At times, with Hat Fitz shredding his battered electric guitar or beloved dobro, and Cara smashing out a rhythm on the drums, the duo create a truly unique and heady blend of folk and blues. Hat Fitz and Cara effortlessly combine genres in their quest for gut-wrenching, hip-shaking sounds. Irish folk suffuses the culture which produced them both – at opposite ends of the world. This dovetails nicely with strong southern US blues sensibilities, awash with the echoes of gospel, bluegrass and call-and-response field hollers.
In recent times Hat Fitz and Cara have been racking up festival invitations, with performances at Bluesfest, Woodford, Apollo Bay and Port Fairy in Australia, the Belfast Royal Opera House, Ireland’s TF Royal Theatre and Electric Picnic and Britain’s Shetland Island Folk Festival and Port Elliot Festival, among others. Now they’re heading north for the fifth annual Cairns Blues Festival. With their unique combination of hill-style country blues and old time folk Hat Fitz and Cara are set to deliver a show that is absolutely unforgettable.
This year’s line-up of the Cairns Blues Festival showcases a diverse range of acts, from the sophisticated, soulful, funked-up New Zealand blues of Billy TK Jnr & The Groove Shakers, to the rockin’ country-esque style of Bluesville Station and the roosty blues of Blake Saban 3, and more.
Tickets for the fifth annual Cairns Blues Festival at Fitzroy Island are on sale now from www.ticketlink.com.au or 1300 855 835. Tickets inclusive of transport are $75 (adults), $70 (concession) and $24 (17-years and under). Ferry transfers are included. Booking fee not included. ID is required upon entry to the festival. NO UNDER 18S PERMITTED AFTER 8PM.
Cairns Blues Festival is held at Fitzroy Island on Saturday 11th May from 12pm. For more information, please visit www.cairnsbluesfestival.com.au