Rae Fitzgerald

Minimalist, earthy, sensuous, raw, smoky, story-based – any and all of these terms describe the stripped-down beauty of Rae Fitzgerald’s thought-provoking music and lyrics. The local singer-songwriter has been performing at The Blue Fugue and other stages in town over this past year and is releasing her first full-length album, “Of War and Water,” at Mojo’s tomorrow night. I asked Fitzgerald a few questions about her album, performing in Columbia, her musical influences, and where she hopes to land in the future.

Tribune: How long have you been playing music for performance?

Fitzgerald: I started "performing" when I was seventeen at this little coffee shop in Farmington, Missouri called Nature's Cup, which has since shut down. I was a regular, and it's where I got my first real taste of any sort of music community. When I moved to Kirksville for college, I got involved in a band, and we played quite a few shows, went on a tour, etc. That's where I got the majority of my performance practice.

Tribune: You started building your musical reputation at The Blue Fugue. Could you talk a little bit about how that happened?

Fitzgerald: When I first moved here, one of my friends and co-workers, who is a local musician, told me that he first started getting noticed around town by playing the open mic at The Fugue every Monday like clockwork. So that's what I started doing. It's just such a great starting ground to develop connections and friends. Everyone there has been so encouraging and supportive of my music.

Tribune: How would you describe your own music and songwriting? And what inspires your subject matter?

Fitzgerald: It is one of the hardest things for me to do, describing the "type" of music I play. I can’t seem to get far enough away from it to form a reasonably objective opinion.

Everyone calls themselves "folk" now, but I think what I play probably actually is folk. It's singer-songwritery, acoustic stuff, and even traditional in many regards. I wanted to write music that didn't have the 2011 timestamp on it, or whatever year's stamp that marks when it was released. I want to write music that sounds more timeless.

The subject matter varies. Disastrous love affairs. Life in the Midwest. My force-feeding of religion. The process of losing one's mind. The seemingly mystical. Mind diseases. The New World Order ... Much of it is very introspective self-evaluation, but I occasionally branch out to larger social themes.

Tribune: Who have been your musical influences?

Fitzgerald: Most of my influences have been people who I thought told a real story, who were true “singing time-capsules” of their particular situation. Bob Dylan is an obvious one. I also went through a huge Ani DiFranco stage in my junior year of high school. Bright Eyes, Elliott Smith, Gillian Welch, and Cat Power were all major influences that followed.

Tribune: How did you form your current band?

Fitzgerald: This band was just easy to form. I was introduced to Lucas Oswald while Josh (our melodica player) and I were in a different band. When I really decided to get my own stuff on its way, I knew that Lucas was the only person who saw my music with the same vision. He accompanies me with various instruments – he can play anything – and produces everything I do. Lucas introduced me to some really stellar musicians around town: Ted Carstensen (drums), and Will Reeves (recording, sound mixing and mastering, and bass if needed). They are all part of my little gig, and they have really opened the doors for me to meet new people who play.

I’ve toured with other bands, but I haven't had the chance to take a proper tour with this music yet. I'm currently booking an early summer tour, and I plan to go out for another couple weeks in late summer. Mostly I’d like to work a Midwest circuit; get comfortable playing here, St. Louis, Lawrence, Omaha, Chicago, etc.

Tribune: How did your new album, “Of War and Water,” come into being?

Fitzgerald: Though I recorded a different album when I initially moved to Columbia, I didn't officially release it, for various reasons. Most of this new album was written within the last six to eight months. I wanted to release something that felt at least semi-up-to-date with my current life. I also wanted it to be tourable, something that was easily transported around and which would still sound good even without a full band.

The more people, the more schedules, the harder it is to tour. I wanted to record songs that would at least resemble a live performance, even if I am the only one playing. I was also simply craving a real aesthetic. Right before Christmas this last year, I went over to Lucas' house and told him I wanted to record an album ... and I wanted to do it in about a month. So we did, and we recorded all of the songs live. There is literally only a handful of overdubs. Despite minor imperfections, the knowledge that the audio we captured is from a real experience of people just standing in a room, playing a song like they would play it anyway, makes it so much more valuable and endearing to the ears.

The album is kind of a collection of private hymns where I transcribe my account, my perspective on the times. In so many ways, we are watching the old world disappear around us and witnessing the dawn of a not-yet-recognizable new age. None of these things are really written in the factual, literal sense; these songs are still written like poems. That is one half of what fills my mind (war).

The rest of the lyrical content is more personal, involving love or the lack thereof, mystical elements to human interaction, personal mental struggles, etc. That's the fluid (water). So the album is appropriately titled "Of War and Water."

S.T. Carrel & the Sad Bastards

Jefferson City native Steven Carrel has become a staple in Columbia’s music scene. Whether he’s playing a solo show or collaborating with bands, like Cabin Sessions, this gifted songwriter does his best to be genuine and sincere with his craft. Carrel has an album coming out…tentatively titled “Steven Carrel and the Sad Bastards.”

Lizzie Wright Super Space Ship

Lizzie Wright Super Space Ship loves the planet and although others of her kind usually like to leave it, she wants to study it through song and microscopes.

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Rae Fitzgerald Album Release Party! with S.T. Carrel & the Sad Bastards, Lizzie Wright Super Space Ship

Thursday, May 9 · Doors 8:30 PM / Show 9:30 PM at Mojo's