Opening the evening and warming up the stage and atmosphere for Hat Fitz & Cara on their return visit to the Moon in Cardiff was the duo version of Blind River Scare, with Tim Manning on guitar and vocals and Chris Tweed on Lap Steel and Pedal Steel guitar. They delivered their own ditties and covers in a distinctive country blues style the audience was growing as they awaited the chance to hear Hat Fitz and Cara.
This friendly duo who are full of banter as the Australian Hat Fitz and Irish Cara stepped on the stage with a smile and the exuded warmth and charm before a note was struck. This is a duo, though the depth and variety in musical sound, tone and texture a band with many members would be delighted to achieve. Hat Fitz uses a variety of acoustic guitar and a banjo so that the sound produced matches the atmosphere of every track being performed, and his duties on vocals is full of colour and emotion and his voice when duetting with Cara makes a perfect combination as demonstrated by an amazing version of Blind Willie Johnson’s, John the Revelator this is a wake up and listen as the beat flows through your body. Cara is a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, her main role is to sing and play drum which she does with a dexterity that confounds, into the mix add flute, penny whistle and washboard with awesome looking gloves with metal tips.
The version of Blind Willie McTell’s, Delia certainly ensured the crowds were engaged and listening to every word and nuance, the atmosphere was hot and attentive in this mid-week gig. The duo delighted the crowd with a selection of numbers from their current CD; Do Tell many hearing for the first time and give that extra sparkle when delivered live is a small but perfectly formed venue; they also dipped into the back catalogue along including tracks from the acclaimed Wiley Ways voted Blues Album of The Year 2012 by the Australian Blues Awards and Spiral Earth Magazine; with classics they have made their own. The instrumentation on every song was exciting but it is the voices that tell the story that is at the heart of every performance; each of them have clear voices and they harmonise so well together the song gets that extra depth as the voice combine to emphasise phrases and emotions.
Hat Fitz’s earthy vocals are the perfect foil to the clarity and purity of range of Cara’s; his voice also reflects the earthy resonator guitars he loves to play and gets a fantastic sound that is authentic while mixing the future with the past nothing old fashion or staid about the playing style.
Every Song had a tale attached and these were shared as a double act by Cara And Hat as he re-tuned and changed guitars, Eliza Blue moody full of regrets and unwritten histories as the story unfolds about the poet Frank and his journey from Ireland to Australia, holding the audience captivated. Tracks of the new album Do Tell, included Long Dark Wind and Shakedown display the variety of styles and approaches used by this talented duo, who sound so fantastic in the round off an intimate live music where the emotions get close up and personal. Throughout the show we see the versatility of their musicianship with the lovely country porch-step folk sound from the wash-board through to the fife and drum sound achieved by drums and penny whistle.
The cover of Nobody’s Fault But Mine was a unique take on this classic Sonny Boy Williamson , blues number.The influences seep into the music and ouzzes out across the club , a hint of Irish folk, a swizzle of Appalachian Country, a swirl of outback bushwacker blues, combined to create the blues of suffering and experience that makes Hat Fitz and Cara a compelling duo you just want to tap your feet and listen to the music.