Subscribe Anywhere
Jun
20
2024
music

Marisa Anderson and Jim White, with former village resident Porter Fitch, pictured above at last year’s Porchfest, will perform at the Foundry Theater at Antioch College Saturday, May 11, 7–9 p.m. (Photo by Reilly Dixon)

Porter Fitch to perform at the Foundry Theater

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Foundry Theater at Antioch College will feature a performance by musicians Marisa Anderson and Jim White, with former Yellow Springs resident Porter Fitch, this Saturday, May 11.

Anderson, an American guitarist known for her genre-bending style and improvisational composition; White, an Australian drummer and founder of the rock band Dirty Three; and Fitch, an acoustic guitarist whose music draws from and reshapes traditional American music elements; continue the eclectic range of national and international acts featured in the inaugural season of programming at the Foundry.

Fitch, who grew up in the village, spoke with the News about the upcoming show. Fitch said Foundry Theater Director Chris Westhoff, with whom Fitch has collaborated musically in the past, suggested that both the guitarist’s local roots and his musical style would make him a good fit for opening up the program with Anderson and White.

Get your News at home,  subscribe to the Yellow Springs News today

“Marisa Anderson is known for doing this sort of left-of-center solo guitar music, and I do something sort of similar — so I think it just sort of made sense,” Fitch said.

Fitch described his musical style as a kind of recontextualizing of musical traditions — remaining faithful, for example, to the melodies of American old-time tunes that would typically be played with a fiddle and banjo, but turning them “inside-out in terms of how they’re arranged.” He said some of his original compositions, too, are informed by some of those same traditions, and others are inspired by “things that have nothing to do with guitar-playing.”

“I have been accused of being a ‘jack-of-all-trades and master of none,’ and there’s some truth to that,” Fitch said. “But it’s hard to pick one thing and say, ‘This is what I do.’”

Fitch said his early music influences came by way of his parents, Carol Simmons and Diane Fitch. Simmons, a music reviewer in Fitch’s youth (and currently the News’ village desk editor), exposed him to the world of classical music, and Diane Fitch “was always playing classic country in the house.” Porter Fitch, like many, took his first steps into performance via music lessons as a kid, studying trumpet with David Coleman.

“I was not a good student, but [Coleman] took me seriously, and that kind of made all the difference,” Fitch said.

In adolescence, Fitch said he discovered classic rock bastions like Pink Floyd, Elton John and Led Zeppelin, leading him to “sneak around” playing his older sister’s acoustic guitar.

“And it was like, ‘Oh — this is what I love,’” he said. 

At 12 years old, Fitch purchased his first electric guitar from Dayton’s Hauer Music. He bought the guitar on a layaway plan, and picked up paid “odd jobs” around the community in order to make payments after advertising in the classifieds section of the News.  

After graduating from the Miami Valley School in 2011, Fitch went on to Hampshire College. By that time, his musical tastes had expanded to include jazz, electronic and experimental music, among other genres, and he studied under avant-garde jazz master Marty Ehrlich. Ehrlich, he said, encouraged him to transfer to a school with a more “serious music program.”

“He said, ‘You should probably go find some people who are going to kick your butt’ — so I transferred to Rutgers, which has a pretty intense jazz program,” Fitch said. “And I studied with Vic Juris, the late, great guitar player, and he — in the kindest possible way — totally kicked my butt.”

Fitch said that, initially, he planned to move to New York and pursue a career as a straight-ahead jazz musician and “play the 55 Bar and Smoke and all that.”

“Then I sort of realized that I was trying to imitate all these people that I really respected — and that was worthwhile — but I didn’t feel like myself when I was playing Billy Strayhorn tunes,” he said. “I felt like I was doing an impression of Joe Pass or Mike Moreno.”

Fitch said he “stumbled around for a little while,” playing with an assortment of different bands. Then the pandemic hit, bringing with it the isolation of lockdowns and quarantines, and he was faced with the only option before him — to make music on his own.

“That’s where all of this stuff came from — and that sort of started to feel more like home than any of my other musical ventures have,” he said.

Though he’s still a touring member of hardcore band Ideomotor — based out of Moscow, Idaho, where he once lived — Fitch said solo music feels like the best, and most challenging, place to continue to explore his craft for the time being.

“I’ve always found it easier to hop onto somebody else’s project,” he said. “But I realized that, in some ways, I was avoiding foregrounding the stuff that felt a little more personal, because there’s some risk in saying, ‘This is just me, nothing to hide behind, I’m just gonna play the music that I wrote and I really mean it.’ But it started feeling really important to do that.”

Fitch said it feels “surreal” to be opening for Marisa Anderson and Jim White at the Foundry — he’s spent “a pretty good amount of time with both their catalogs.” He remembers listening to White’s work with Dirty Three on the way to school as a teenager. Later, discovering Marisa Anderson’s guitar style taught him that the instrument “can be new and interesting.”

“Dirty Three were a big part of opening my ears up when I was a teenager, so they’re special to me in pretty substantial ways,” he said. “And I think in terms of people doing new things with solo guitar, Marisa Anderson is as interesting as it gets.”

He added: “I’m gonna be watching her and trying to steal stuff.”

As for his own set, Fitch said he intends to play a “little bit of all the elements” of what he does, including some arrangements of old-time fiddle tunes and Irish tunes, as well as some originals, which he said have “shades of old-time music, and a pinch of Mississippi John Hurt or Ali Farka Touré” to them. He also hopes to play a few duets with Chris Westhoff, perhaps improvise a bit, including a “conversational element” in their shared music.

Fitch currently lives in Covington, Kentucky, but said he looks forward to playing in the same theater where he rehearsed with the YS Kids Playhouse as a youth. Though music is now the driving creative force in his life, he said he “wasn’t really serious about playing” for the first 18 years of his life, when he lived in the village.

“But it feels like a really special thing to get to play in Yellow Springs, because it’s this thing I found after I left home and did some exploring,” he said. “It feels special to bring that home — there’s a full-circle quality to it.”

Marisa Anderson and Jim White, with Porter Fitch, will perform at the Foundry Theater at Antioch College Saturday, May 11, 7–9 p.m.

The following Friday, May 17, the Foundry stage will feature multi-instrumentalist Kristin Andreassen, known in part as a member of renowned folk outfit Uncle Earl, and Chris Eldridge, of Grammy-winning folk band Punch Brothers, from 7–9 p.m.

For more information on both shows, and to purchase tickets, go to bit.ly/FoundryTix.

Topics:

No comments yet for this article.

The Yellow Springs News encourages respectful discussion of this article.
You must to post a comment.

Don't have a login? Register for a free YSNews.com account.

×

Heat & air quality advisory is in effect; emergency cooling centers established. | CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.

WP2Social Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com