Ian Fitzgerald plays Midtown Scholar for January 3rd in the Burg
3rd in the Burg is my go-to for finding new artists, and the first one of 2018 is no different.
I had not heard of Ian Fitzgerald until I saw his show posted by Midtown Scholar. Which, if I might add, might be the most underrated venue in Harrisburg. The sound is great in there and they always do a great job of bringing in some of the best up and coming songwriters to our city.
I spoke with Ian about his music, his travels and, his upcoming performance in Harrisburg.
MJ: How did you first get involved with guitar playing and songwriting?
IF: I picked up the guitar what some would consider rather late. I didn’t start playing until after high school and was such a big fan of music that I wanted to play. My dad’s classic rock record collection had a lot to do with how I first started playing. It was a lot of just playing the music that I listened to. When I went to college there were all these different open mic nights and I started out playing there. I noticed everyone else was doing a lot of original music and that motivated me to start writing my own songs.
What are some of those early influences that helped shape your sound?
When I started playing, it was all The Beatles and Bob Dylan, and it just expanded from there. Those were my main influences and then I started going back and listening to the music that influenced Dylan like early country and folk music. I became a student of it and eventually got into listening to Leonard Cohen, Ryan Adams and, more of the contemporary songwriters.
What artists are you listening to today?
The record I have been listening to most this past year is Modern Pressure by Daniel Romano. There is Aaron Lee Tasjan out of Nashville who just recently signed with a label but has been putting out good records for a few years.
What is influencing the music you are making now?
What has been appealing to me has been the language of very early folk music the pre and post-depression area music that has been passed down by generations with countless versions and different lyrical variations on the songs. John Prime recently wrote a book and you can see the notes around his lyrics with words replaced and scratched out from the songs he wrote. He traces out his thinking and it’s really interesting to be able to take a look at that type of process. You can do that with older songs, how the story, versions, and words change. Why the ones that are there stuck, why the story flowed into a different direction. That influences how I write and what words I am going to put into the song and, what I am going to say.
I’m sure you have a few guitars, which one is your favorite?
I am currently playing a small body acoustic guitar made by Loar. It’s a newer company that makes older body style guitars. It looks more like a 1930s Gibson or Martin. It has a pretty good low end for a small body, it’s great for traveling and kind of has a nylon string sound to it even though it is steel string.
What is your favorite performance you’ve ever done?
The one that immediately jumps out is the Newport Folk Festival in the summer of 2016. Playing in front of a crowd that size and a crowd that is really in tune to that type of music made for a great experience. I would suggest making the trip to the Newport Folk Festival it is a great atmosphere for musicians and attendees alike.
What are your goals in music for this year?
I want to get back into the studio. I put out a record at the end of 2016 and have been touring with those songs for a while now. I’d like to finish this batch of songs I am currently working on, get back into the studio and maybe finish the new record.
It was great to chat with Ian for a few moments. A very talented singer-songwriter that can transport the listener back into a simpler time when the artist would tell the listener a story and we would intertwine our lives within the music.
Make sure you head out to Midtown Scholar to check out Ian Fitzgerald’s performance Jan. 19 during 3rd in the Burg. You can check out his Bandcamp page to get a listen to his album, “You Won’t Even Know I’m Gone.”