B&L: What animal do you associate yourself with (given our ties to oxen)?
Jim Fitting: If you look at the cover of our album you will see why I have chosen the lion. The theme of the lion tamer and the circus seems quite appropriate. Of course in private I am referred to as ‘the shark’…
B&L: Why music? Why do you seek it? Why do you create it? How’d it come calling to you?
JF: Music came calling very early, through car radios and family stereos. There was so much mystery and beauty there, so many stories and sounds that it became a thing of fascination while I was still quite young. Growing up, rock music was the touchstone for peers and siblings, the point of reference. And there were so many great and fascinating musicians. And it looked so fun, and guess what, it is fun. And as you grow older you start investigating what inspired them, and learning what forms they built their music on, and it continues as a learning process that goes on and on.
B&L: What’s the making of a great show?
JF: A great audience and a good PA.
B&L: How’d Session Americana come together? What was the initial conversation that led to, ‘yeah, let’s pack around a table and folk/rock’?
JF: That’s kind of it. Ry had the idea of using the one mic on the table and once we got together, we started trading songs, and inviting others to come in with songs we didn’t know. And that became the conversation.
B&L: The gathering around the table vibe feels like traditional/authentic old-timey folk music that existed at social gatherings that people might have hosted in their kitchen. Is that fair?
B&L: Speaking of tables, do you have a preference on what the table is constructed from? Hard wood? Particleboard?
JF: The present table is made of birch plywood, and was designed and built by Dinty (Child).
B&L: How many beers have been spilled on the table over the years (have any tables been harmed in the making of Session Americana sessions)?
JF: Many, many beers have been spilled, but also wine and coffee, whiskey and water and who knows what else. At least no one has vomited on it yet, so that’s good. It’s pretty clean.
We are hard on our tables and have re-built and re-designed three or four over the years. There is an early model over in Ireland that we left for touring there. But the present one is the best ever! It folds up and comes with us wherever we go. Of course we had to do an emergency repair in Sweden last month, the boys said I had been leaning on it too hard.
B&L: Tell us a little bit about your latest recorded work, “Pack Up the Circus.” What’s it all about?
JF: Well the title gives you a good idea. The album was made with the help of a whole group of musicians that are in our circle, a collective if you will. And that is not unlike a circus. We bring the circus to a town and then we pack it up. So it’s about us and it’s about a journey.
B&L: It’s produced by one of our favorite majestic animals, Anais Mitchell. What’d she add to the Session(s)?
JF: We are huge fans of Anais, and we have worked with her in the past. She was instrumental in choosing the songs that made the album more focused, which was like herding cats at first (or taming lions perhaps). We get a long very well and we respect her so much so that when she told one of us that “those lyrics need work” or something we would immediately go and fix it. She was great at making us polish and tighten up aspects of the songs that we normally don’t focus on as much, which really helped.
B&L: What’s one tune (or, heck, a couple) that exists out there in the ether that blows you away that you kind of wish you had written yourself?
JF: “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” or “Goodbye Porkpie Hat”. But I also have to mention Allen Toussaint who just passed away. What a fantastic songwriter. “Such a Night’ or “Working In a Coalmine” for example. He will be sorely missed.
B&L: What can folks expect when they come out to see you lads perform the ol’ Stone Church on November 20th?
JF: A good time. Well that’s what we try to have on stage, and we like to spread it around. If there is some good music, that happens in the process all the better! But yeah we will bring our little one table circus, our songs and a whole lot of instruments, ( I personally will bring at least 30 harmonicas).
B&L: Question number 12. If you could have a dozen of anything, what would that dozen of something be?
JF: 2010 Domaine Janasse ‘Vieille Vignes’ Chateauneuf Du Pape! (That’s wine for all you non-wine-drinking animals out there…)
Session Americana will circle around the table at the Stone Church on Friday, November 20th. For tickets and information click here.