May 11, 2006 issue

A One Man Music Machine

Patrick Fitzsimons Plays at Twigs May 17

Story by David Brewer

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. “There’s just something so much more natural and honest about it. I just love the old stuff.”

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.

Patrick Fitzsimons will be at Twigs in Blowing Rock on Wednesday, May 17. There is no cover charge and the show will start at 9:00 p.m. To listen to songs by Fitzsimons, click to www.patrickfitzsimons.com.

Cutline: Asheville musician Patrick Fitzsimons will be at Twigs in Blowing Rock on Wednesday, May 17 at 9:00 p.m.

Want To Go?

Date: Wednesday, May 17

Time: 9:00 p.m.

Location: Twigs

Cost: Free!