Local Quartet Celebrates All Things Blue

Already getting tired of the long, cold winter?

Well, a local quartet plans to present you with a perfect cure—they want to get rid of your winter blues by adding some of their own.

On January 13, Fawn Fritzen, Rebekah Bell, Claire Ness and Katie Tait will be showcasing their varied vocal talents in “Under the Blue Umbrella,” an evening of music inspired by all things blue.

Guests can expect to hear everything from straight-up blues to bluesy jazz, R&B to bluegrass, songs about the colour blue and, according to Fritzen, some “other blue things planned for the evening.”

“I don’t think Whitehorse has seen this kind of harmonized vocal jazz in recent memory, at least, not by locals!” says Fritzen, who is looking forward to performing the unusual four-part harmonies that are currently being arranged for the group by Annie Avery.

Avery will also be supporting the quartet during the performance, playing keyboard alongside Ken Searcy on drums and Rob Bergman on upright bass.

“Annie’s already been invaluable, since she’s very familiar with the blues, of course, and has so much musical knowledge, period,” says Fritzen. “These guys are all really fantastic musicians, so we know they’ll be a top-notch band.”

Left to Right, Claire Ness, Fawn Fritzen, Rebekah Bell, and Katie Tait prepare to explore all things blue. Photo: Willow Gamberg

The idea for “Under the Blue Umbrella” first came about when the four local songbirds— or bluebirds, if you will—attended a master vocal-jazz class taught by Vancouver jazz singer Karin Plato.

“During one of the classes, Karin talked about types of music that fall under the jazz ‘umbrella,’ one of which is blues,” Fritzen explains. “But blues itself contains various sub-genres, as well. At some point, she was talking about potential show ideas and kind of threw that name out there, ‘Under the Blue Umbrella.’ I was attracted to it right away, thinking it sounded like a great theme for a show.”

At the end of the week-long workshop, Fritzen contacted Bell, Ness, and Tait to see if they’d be interested in collaborating on the project. All three remembered Plato’s comment and were very enthusiastic about Fritzen’s idea.

“The girls have been so much fun to work with,” she says. “Our planning meetings have involved a lot of food and laughter. We all have different backgrounds and have different talents and resources at our disposal.”

Because the blue umbrella theme is so visual, the group’s first meeting was actually to do a photo shoot with Christian Kuntz, the results of which can already be seen in promotional material around town.

“We were all having so much fun doing the pictures, I’m sure Christian felt like he was herding cats,” Fritzen says. “But the fun spirit of our group came through in the photos, and we intend to make that part of the show, as well. . . . We plan to have various duets and backup vocals and such, but the main thing is that we want this to be fun for everyone, especially the audience!”

Finally, in a perfect coincidence, Karin Plato herself will actually be back in Whitehorse just in time to catch the performance.

“She was excited about coming to our show,” says Fritzen. “We’ve asked her to be a guest performer, and that is going to be a fun collaboration too, as we plan to take the stage all together.”

One more special guest appearance is also in the works: liquor license permitting, the group plans for an appearance by Eric Epstein, dressed to the nines and mixing up his famous Blue Rocco martinis.

“Under the Blue Umbrella” will be held on January 13th at the Old Fire Hall, with doors at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $20 each and are available in advance from Dean’s Strings and Music Supplies.

For more information, visit the Facebook event page, which can be found through Fritzen’s fan page at www.facebook.com/FawnFritzenMusic

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