Ever since the 2011 Champaign-Urbana Folk & Roots Festival in late November I’ve been hearing about fiddler Kate Fritz.
I missed her performance but later heard that it was a real zinger, that she could have been a headline act. The festival organizers later billed her as a special guest at its January 2012 concert featuring Canadian fiddler, singer, songwriter and step dancer April Verch, also a major talent.
A couple of local musicians into roots and Irish music also have told me how impressed they are with Fritz’s fiddle playing.
Now you have a chance to hear her on Friday evening (March 16) at the indi go Artist Go-op at 9 E. University Ave., C. There she will perform solo fiddle and with John Coppess, a Champaign-based singer-songwriter who bills himself as the "Limping Cowboy."
According to a news release from indi go, Fritz grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area playing Scottish fiddle music with the San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers directed by Alasdair Fraser. Her music draws primarily from Scottish, Cape Breton and Appalachian inspirations.
She currently works, travels and performs with Patch Adams — who now lives in Urbana — and his Gesundheit Institute.
This past year Fritz traveled with her fiddle and music recorder in Appalachia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, and South East Asia, exploring the connection between environmental health and regional music.
I hope to at some point do a "Studio Visit" with Fritz. I’ve done the Q-and-A, which appears in the Entertainment section every Sunday in The News-Gazette, with Coppess and Jeff Arrigo, another Champaign-based singer-songwriter who also performs at indi go on Friday evening.
Coppess at age 15 began teaching himself to play the guitar so he could sing the songs he and his father had sung; his dad had died seven years earlier in a farm accident.
He began singing in public after he opened his leather work booth at the farmers’ market in Urbana. He does really nice leather work, and sells many of his guitar straps to local musicians.
Coppess began composing his own songs three years ago; he now has a repertoire of more than 30 of his own country, folk and cowboy songs.
Arrigo is a songwriter who has performed in bars, restaurants and festivals for more than 15 years. He moved to Champaign a couple of years ago from Columbia, Mo.
"Many of his songs are about misadventures on the trails and streams of the Missouri Ozarks," reads the indi go news release. "His most recent CD ‘Gideon’ is primarily an autobiographical road map of his recent past, but newer songs have become more narrative and include odes to ancient plant life, bank robbery, confessions of a subpar soul, and all-night murderous drinking binges." Interesting!
At indi go on Friday evening, Coppess and Fritz will perform from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Arrigo will perform from 8:30 to 10 p.m.
Admission is $5 at the door.