Hailing from the high trees and low tones of Asheville, NC, a funky-fresh new kind of sound has been taking over the nation. For the past eight years, The Fritz has been bringing a fresh new take on funk and soul music to the Tar Heel State and beyond. The band will return this fall to the farm for their second performance at Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival of Music & Dance. During a moment of rest for the band, we sat down with guitarist Jamie Hendrickson to learn more about what makes The Fritz so electric.
The Fritz specialize in live shows that are built for dancing, grooving and moving. A typical week for the band includes dates in multiple states and the band embraces the live experience in their writing.
“At the heart of our being, we’re a live band. So everything is kind of made for high energy dance music, and everything that we write is written for the stage rather than for…an album and heavily produced. All of our releases so far have been pretty much how we would do them live. We overdub a little bit, but for the most part it’s just us in a room playing.”
Though the live shows are what they are known for, simply sitting in a room and playing seems to be what really gave The Fritz their unique sound. The band members are masters at improvisation, which helps to keep the energy high. From unworldly keyboard solos that sound like something off of Parliament’s ‘Mothership’, to face-melting guitar solos which channel the very essence of Jimi Hendrix, The Fritz knows how to create the kind of sound that gains a reputation.
The band met while each member was studying music at the University of North Florida. It was here that the group began to hone in on exactly what kind of band they wanted to start, a process which continued through their move to Asheville, and the subsequent eight years. Hendrickson attributes the band’s unique sound to the different musical tastes that each person brings to the group.
“Every person in the band has drastically different influences. Jamar was a classical piano major in college, and then some of the other guys were jazz performance…our bass player loves acoustic, celtic and bluegrass. So we just kinda listen to so many different things. When we do The Fritz, we kind of try to put away our individual influences and just see what collectively works best for what we’re trying to do.”
The Fritz’s sound continues to evolve every year, always reaching bigger and better heights. ECHO, the band’s 2018 release, recorded at Asheville’s Echo Mountain Recording Studios, features a tight horn section comprised of Justin Stanton (trumpet) and Chris Bullock (sax) from Snarky Puppy and Natalie Cressman (trombone) from the Trey Anastasio Band.
Since the release of ECHO last fall, the band has been in “songwriting mode” and planning out the next release. According to Hendrickson, “we’ll hopefully have some more details in the near future about that.”
As for their upcoming Shakori Hills GrassRoots performance, Henderickson says that the festival feels more like a “hometown festival” for the band after several months of touring. Though the location is convenient to their hometown of Asheville, the best part about Shakori Hills for The Fritz, is the energy of the crowd.
“The energy of the Shakori crowd is amazing, [there are] some great music listeners who really pay attention, and at the same time they like to have fun and like to party. We love the people at Shakori, it was a blast!”
The Fritz will surely be an act not to miss this fall. Their music is available online through all of the major streaming sites, with videos of their incredible live performances up on their YouTube page.
Watch the video for ‘Nothing to Find’ below, which was recorded at Echo Mountain Studios and features Chris Bullock, Natalie Cressman, and Justin Stanton.