Patrick Fitzsimons
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Patrick Fitzsimons

Asheville, North Carolina, United States | SELF

Asheville, North Carolina, United States | SELF
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"A One-Man Music Machine"

When asked how a Belfast-born, New York-raised, Charlotte-transplant, Asheville resident came to love the blues so much, Patrick Fitzsimons has a quick and easy answer: college.

An ASU graduate with a degree in interdisciplinary studies, Fitzsimons received another kind of education when he fell under the spell of such blues giants as Blind Boy Fuller, Mississippi John Hurt, Lightning Hopkins, Howling Wolf and T-Bone Walker as well as Doc Watson while hanging out with a buddy during his years in Boone.

During his time living in the High Country, Fitzsimons cut his performance teeth and paid some bills by busking on the streets of Blowing Rock with friends. His new love affair with the blues along with other styles including Western swing, old country, ragtime and jazz coincided with his increasing affinity for the guitar.

“I just fooled around with guitar while my musical taste became more refined,” said Fitzsimons. “I just love the old stuff. There’s just something so much more natural and honest about it.”

Fitzsimons’ grooving, Piedmont blues-informed guitar style requires him to keep a pulsing bass line going on the upper strings while simultaneously picking the melody and/or soloing on the lower strings. To give his classic sound a great tone, Fitzsimons uses an Epiphone Joe Pass signature arch top guitar through a Vox amplifier.

Over the last few years, Fitzsimons has been honing his “jazzy folk blues” skills in venues all across Western North Carolina and beyond. While specializing in finger style folk blues guitar, Fitzsimons also keeps a kick drum going with one foot, a hi-hat with the other and also plays harmonica. Indeed, Fitzsimons is a one-man band.

“I started by just putting a tambourine under my left foot and it just sort of evolved from there,” said Fitzsimons. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the multitalented musician had already spent quite a bit of time studying as a percussionist. “I’m used to doing different things with different limbs.” In addition to his wealth of instrumental skills, Fitzsimons’ reedy tenor fits well with his mixture of original, traditional and old time material.

While he was extremely hesitant to try his new, one-man style, Fitzsimons took second place during his debut performance at the 19th annual Piedmont Blues Preservation Society Blues Challenge, encouraging him to spend more time developing the sound. Since then, the additions have become a staple of his live act.

- David Brewer, May 11, 2006 - High Country News, Boone, NC


"Patrick Fitzsimons: One-man-band"

Asheville's Patrick Fitzsimons takes rugged individualism to a whole new level. He's a drummer, fingerstyle guitarist, harp-blower, and singer, all while keeping time with a thrumming, steady bass line - and he does it all as his own one-man band.

"I started busking on the streets (of Boone) when I was in college at Appalachian State," Fitzsimons says. "It was my first experience with playing out (in front of people)."

After college, Fitzsimons traveled the world, performing for makeshift crowds from villages to cities, developing his love for many styles of music.

"I played on the streets (across) Europe for about 9 months," Fitzsimons recalls. "For awhile busking was my sole source of income over there."

Fitzsimons spent 6 months in Barcelona, where he began playing congas.

"In Barcelona, I studied traditional Cuban salsa music - then I came back here, and got more involved with that style, playing in a salsa band, plus more into West African music as well," Fitzsimons says. "Ragtime and blues were the styles I was pretty much doing when I was busking - (and) that's pretty much what I do now with the guitar."

Fitzsimons has one recording, "hoo daddy," under his belt. Alternating between lonesome and melancholy blues versus foot-stomping rags, the record serves as a fitting tribute to all those blues cats that came before. Fitzsimons has a head full of blues and ragtime influences, in addition to Western swing, country, old-time, and traditional music.

"I'm looking to do another recording project that'll be all original music," Fitzsimons says. "I haven't done that before - it'll be drawing from a range of influences - blues, jazz, latin, reggae, afropop ... it's gonna be broad and eclectic."

Fitzsimons also has plans to release a recording from a recent session at WNCW/FM-88.7's "Studio B" program. He's also got a tour schedule loaded with regional appearances, some with another up-and-coming regional artist Eliza Lynn.

"I just enjoy playing music for people so much," Fitzsimons says. "It does so much for me ... being able to make something organically on the spot. (I think music) can touch anyone, regardless of age, race, generation ... it's a vibration in a room that connects people ... brings them together in an aesthetic sense."

- Laura Blackley, May 5, 2006 - Asheville Citizen-Times Take 5


"Runner-up @ 19th annual Piedmont Blues Preservation Society Blues Challenge, High Point, NC"

One man band takes second place at Piedmont Blues Challenge.

Eight is better than one ... barely. Local guitarist Patrick Fitzsimons (whose album Hoo Daddy was featured in Earful last week) almost bested the eight-piece band Mighty Lester for top prize at the 19th Annual Piedmont Blues Preservation Society Blues Challenge in High Point. The event brought in an audience of almost 2000 to watch 16 bands and soloists compete for first place. Fitzsimons was the only Asheville resident to perform, and his runner-up award included a plaque and $200. It was his first year at the challenge.

- Hunter Pope, October 12, 2005 - Mountain Xpress, Asheville, NC


"ARTIST'S CORNER: Patrick Fitzsimons"

Background: Patrick Fitzsimons has had the opportunity to perform in Paris, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Barcelona, Spain, as well as North Carolina.

"I started my career busking on the streets of Boone and Blowing Rock," Fitzsimons said. "After college, I left on a one-way ticket to Europe and traveled around a bit, playing on the streets."

"Busking" is the British term for a street performance.

During his tour of Europe, he played mainly solo except for occasional meetings with other musicians and collaborating for an evening.

He also got to visit his homeplace of Belfast. "I was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, during the troubles of the 1970s," Fitzsimons said. "After a couple of close calls (bomb explosions, one of which nearly fatally wounded my father), my parents decided to leave for the U.S. with us three kids. I was the youngest at 1-year-old."

Fitzsimons has a love for multiculturalism and an interest in foreign language.

"I'd studied Chinese for three years in college, and became fluent in Spanish during that trip, spending six months in Barcelona," Fitzsimons said.

He says his favorite city to play is anywhere with Gothic architecture and cobblestone streets because the sound is incredible.

"Street performance is often more interactive and real than playing in a club," Fitzsimons said. "People don't typically set aside time to see a street performer, they just stumble upon you and there you are. I first learned how to play the blues on the streets of North Carolina. A friend took me under his wing, teaching me blues shuffles and jumps and so on. It was probably the only true "instruction" that I've had for playing the guitar."

He plays finger-style, meaning a bass line and melody are played simultaneously using the thumb and two or three fingers.

He placed runner-up this year in the annual Piedmont Blues Preservation Society Blues Challenge in High Point.

Although Fitzsimons is an accomplished guitarist, his passion is drumming.

"The first time I picked up a drum it felt so right, like I'd always played it. African music rattles my bones. I feel it so deep. It brings out the deepest, primal aspects of what we are. Something about the rhythm allows us to let go of whatever it is we so faithfully grasp to for support. It makes us more fluid, more beautiful."

Fitzsimons said that while attending college, he began playing drums with others in informal drum circles which turned into the study of traditional rhythms.

"While I was in Spain I found a teacher at Taller de Musics in Barcelona, Alberto Cabello, who taught me how to play the congas in various Cuban styles," he said. "When I returned to North Carolina, I met up with a young man who'd just returned from Guinea, West Africa,Jeremy "Tiani" Tarr, and went on to study with him for a year or so. It was at that time that I became more involved with drumming and dancing together, as the two are never separate in African tradition. This definitely took it all to a new level for me, playing music for dancers. At the same time I was playing the congas in a salsa band."

Fitzsimons also has the gift of singing, drumming and playing a harmonica at the same time - a one-man band. He says that people love it.

"It's fun," said Fitzsimons. "At first it was definitely me going out on a limb trying to hold it all together. It feels more comfortable all the time."

In 2004, he released his first CD with a trio, Fitzsimons & Folks, entitled "High Time's Comin."

His first solo CD, "hoo daddy," was released this year. The title of the CD came from Fitzsimons playing around with band names and logos. He later found out there is actually a type of fishing tackle called the Hoo-Daddy.

Most people are probably not aware that Fitzsimons has studied acupuncture for four years.

"My interests in health and philosophy led me to Chinese medicine. Ultimately, I plan to live out my interdisciplinary tendencies and work both as an acupuncturist and a musician."

- Carole Terrell, December 22, 2005 - Asheville Citizen-Times Haywood County edition


"Patrick Fitzsimons' Sweet Intoxication - review of "hoo daddy""

Patrick Fitzsimons' Sweet Intoxication

hoo daddy
Sweet Pea Records, 2005
Patrick Fitzsimons

LIKE SWEET and intoxicating Pinot Noir that gradually builds a full taste from small, gradual doses or immersion, Patrick Fitzsimons’ easyflowing blues and lilting folk are such endearing acquired habits. The earthly elegance, as well as raw simplicity of his work on “hoo daddy” (2005, Sweet Pea Records)—both as finger-picker, “crossroads” wailer, and no-frills singer-songwriter—give us a sublime summation of this young man’s sensitivity to remember the past, and the maturity to exalt them by giving us a fresh, new serving of old, priceless treasures without tampering with the brew.

Fitzsimons’ voice sounds weathered by bad moonshine and a beautiful night’s dream... That’s all good though—in fact, it’s a pretty enjoyable chill-time respite. His hummable, elastic honky-tonk warbling is reverential as it is rebellious... He renegotiates Mississippi John Hurt and Ben Bernie in “Richland Women Blues” and “Sweet Georgia Brown,” respectively, without missing the rough roads and wisdom-laden moonings. He doesn’t offer us a new, inventive rendering of old magic, like what most younger craftsmen do – he, instead, digs in the blues in blues, sort of, and borrows the soul from within, then shares us these gifts, raw and lovely. He is both blues country’s coolest client as well as its amiable bartender.

Fitzsimons’ understated gifts don’t stop there though. His own composition, “Raggy Time” and a serene George W. Johnson cover “When You & I Were Young, Maggie” exemplify and articulate one of the best, pleasurable, and crisp finger-picking magic in this side of the Appalachians.

I have planned several times to catch Patrick’s gigs in town but I never got to attend one, due to some reason. I’m curious how much would live-electric layering or fuzz guitar would lay waste the rough edges of “hoo daddy’s” tape echoes and busted-up guitar amps, as what rock chronicler Greil Marcus often puts it. I will have to find a way to catch him sometime though—meantime, I have to content myself with this CD, an almost one-man production gig.

I have always been mesmerized and fascinated by old Southern music. Although I am not sure if “hoo daddy” qualifies as one, I really don’t mind. The package’s spirit exudes a nagging omnipresence that stays all over the mountains and into my West Asheville house, as squirrels cavort with some unseen ghost.

Like I forewarned, Patrick Fitzsimons’ music is sweet and intoxicating as vintage wine. And true to little beautiful sins, “hoo daddy” is too bad to pass up.

- Pasckie Pascua, the indie, Asheville, NC - the indie


Discography

High Time's Comin' (2004 w/ Fitzsimons & Folks trio)
hoo daddy (2005 solo release)
Full Circle (2012) http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/patrickfitzsimons

Photos

Bio

Born in Ireland and brought up in the USA, Patrick has been a world traveller from infancy. Patrick's music reflects this, exuding eclecticism, while traversing influences from North America, Europe, the Caribbean, Africa, & beyond. Patrick currently performs with Asheville-based afropop band, Zansa, in addition to his live-looping solo act.

For over a decade, Patrick has been performing for restaurants, clubs, weddings, festivals, and various events as a solo artist. On May 20th, 2006 Patrick's music earned him 1st prize at Lenoir, North Carolina's Multicultural Arts Festival. Hes released three albums since 2004. Patricks latest album, Full Circle, was released in November of 2012.

Patricks always been a singer, but his career as a guitarist began on street corners and shopfronts. In those early days, he was delving into the music of blues giants such as Mississippi John Hurt, Robert Johnson, and Etta Baker. The influences of blues & ragtime served as a foundation for Patrick to expand his playing into other folk & popular styles of music.

Patrick Fitzsimons now serves an example of fine fingerpicking guitar. The versatility in his playing expresses itself through American music, be it singing & scatting through a jazz tune like Mack The Knife, or fingerpicking an old-time song like Shady Grove. Offerings of country, latin, reggae, and pop standards & originals also find themselves in the mix. A loop pedal allows Patrick to layer chords, bass lines, and percussion parts to fill out his signature sound.

QUOTES:

"Some of the best, most pleasurable, and crisp finger-picking magic this side of the Appalachians.."
- Pasckie Pascua, the indie, Asheville, NC, September 5, 2006

"Fitzsimons brings worldliness to his performances."
- Alli Marshall, Mountain Xpress, Asheville, NC, August 2, 2006

"...his style hearkens back to an era when an electric guitar was seen as an interloper."
- Hunter Pope, music critic for Mountain Xpress, Asheville, NC, October 5, 2005

"Asheville's Patrick Fitzsimons takes rugged individualism to a whole new level."
- Laura Blackley, Citizen-Times, Asheville, NC, May 5, 2006

"Very solid playing, clear sound. Wonderful."
- David Hinton, musician, Asheville, NC, August 4, 2006

"A one-man band whose finger-picked guitar style is often accompanied by a bass drum and hi-hat as well as a harmonica and his slinky voice, Fitzsimons can keep it all together and delivers a homespun, bluesy folk jazz blend that is right on the money."
- David Brewer, High Country News, Boone, NC, May 11, 2006

VENUES PLAYED:

The Back Room, Flat Rock, NC
Barley's Taproom, Asheville, NC
Bayou Kitchen, Charlotte, NC
be., Asheville, NC
Beanstreets, Asheville, NC
Black Cat, Boone, NC
The Black Rose, Hendersonville, NC
Blue Mountain Pizza, Weaverville, NC
Boone Saloon, Boone, NC
Cafe Portofino, Boone, NC
Carrboro Music Fest, Carrboro, NC
Chetola Resort, Blowing Rock, NC
The Corner Bar, Banner Elk, NC
Ed Boudreaux's, Asheville, NC
Evening Muse, Charlotte, NC
Festival In The Park, Charlotte, NC
French Broad Brewery, Asheville, NC
Galway Hooker, Cornelius, NC
The Grey Eagle, Asheville, NC
Gypsy Moon, Asheville, NC
Hannah Flanagan's, Asheville, NC
Historic Morganton Festival, Morganton, NC
Jack of the Wood, Asheville, NC
Jimmys Java, Boone, NC
Lexington Arts Fest, Asheville, NC
The Library, Boone, NC
The Market Place Restaurant, Asheville, NC
Matthews Alive! Festival, Matthews, NC
Music Fest in Sugar Grove, NC
Music On The Square, Jonesboro, TN
The New French Bar, Asheville, NC
Noi's Thai Kitchen, Asheville, NC
O'Malley's, Waynesville, NC
The Purple Onion Cafe, Saluda, NC
Raven Grill, Asheville, NC
Soco Moon, Waynesville, NC
Soul Infusion, Sylva, NC
Sweet Heaven, Asheville, NC
Town Pump, Black Mountain, NC
Towne Square, Waynesville, NC
Twigs, Blowing Rock, NC
Westville Pub, Asheville, NC
Woodfield Inn, Hendersonville, NC
Zachery's Pub, Little Switzerland, NC

SHARED THE STAGE WITH:

The Kruger Brothers, Larry Keel & Natural Bridge, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, John Hammond, Eliza Lynn, One Leg Up, Menage, Custard Pie, The Muses, Mad Tea Party, and others