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Howzat! Archive - October 10th 2012

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Hat Fitz loves the blues. When he was a young fella, he had two posters on his bedroom wall - Carlton legends Alex Jesaulenko and Bruce Doull. Rose Tattoo was his first album purchase, but then Bo Carter and Fred McDowell sparked his interest in "old blues". He and his wife, Cara Robinson, have now delivered one of 2012's best roots albums, Hat Fitz and Cara's Wiley Ways (out now on Only Blues Music). It's seen them land on the cover of Rhythms magazine, who hailed their "Wiley Ways, crafty cuts".

Fitzy - who holds the record for 18 straight appearances at Byron Bay's Bluesfest - met Cara when they were performing at a festival in Ireland. They had an unforgettable dance, which ended when Fitz lifted Cara into a column. She was knocked out cold. A few months later, Cara moved to Australia to be with Fitz. They spend most of their time on the road, but home is Kin Kin, Boreen Point in Queensland. Hatz Fitz (full name: Hat Rick Fitzpatrick) likes to describe their sound as "original material with an old-time flavour". He and Cara share vocal duties; it's like a mix of Bonnie Raitt and Howlin' Wolf. How do they decide who sings what? "Sometimes there is a wrestling match, which usually ends with Cara winning in a leg hold," Fitzy chuckles. "In all seriousness, it's usually quite obvious." Wiley Ways was produced by Jeff Lang, who Fitzy met when they did a show together in Woombi in 1993. The album is being launched at the Workers Club on 21 October.

Howzat! caught up with RRR's Neil Rogers last week and we were both overwhelmed by the lineup for Pure Pop's Summer of Classic Albums. "How good is it?" Neil said. "I thought it couldn't be true when I first saw the list." Some of Howzat!'s favourite acts are covering some of our favourite albums, including Fiona Lee Maynard, who's doing Weezer's debut; Monique Brumby, Lucinda Williams' Car Wheels On A Gravel Road; and Liz Stringer, Crowded House's Woodface. Head to for the amazing list.

After the first series of Australian Idol, a publisher contacted Howzat!, wanting us to do a book with runner-up Shannon Noll. Discussions were held with Shannon's management, but he decided - wisely - that it was too soon for a book. But we're pleased he's now told his story, Shannon Noll, So Far ($32.95, New Holland), with Sydney writer Alan Whiticker. Shannon has certainly got a tale to tell - country boy, dealing with his dad's death, finds fame on Idol and, like a mix of Barnesy and Farnesy, carves a career with strong, simple anthems (Drive, Shine, Lift, Loud). It's a story of striving for respect. You can't argue with Shannon's success - five Top 10 albums and 10 Top 10 singles - but many, like TV host David Reyne, question his "creditability". Shannon responds: "Who the fuck are you?" Admirably, Shannon is ambitious and not afraid to stand up for Australian music. He mentions how Meat Loaf was paid "a shitload of money" to perform at the AFL Grand Final. "The funny thing is Australian artists rarely get paid for these high-profile performances because it's all about promotion," he writes. He details falling out with Sony boss Denis Handlin after having a shot at Sony for not breaking him internationally. And there's even a pep talk from Alan Jones: "You need to understand that you represent the hopes and dreams of every average person," Jones tells Shannon. "So if you show in any way that the media are getting to you and beating you down that crushes the dreams of every average bloke if they defeat you, they defeat everybody." There are some annoying mistakes (Marcia Hines is regularly referred to as "Marsha"), but Shannon Noll, So Far is a ripper read, both heartfelt and honest.

There was a certain irony in the Long Way To The Top crowd singing Dragon's Are You Old Enough? Russell Morris joked that the drug of choice backstage was Quick-Eze. But the joyous gig showed you're never too old to rock. It also showed the impact NZ has had on Australian music, with the bill featuring Dragon, Mi-Sex, Jon Stevens, Dinah Lee and Mike Rudd. Howzat! left Rod Laver pondering why these songs weren't massive worldwide hits: I'll Be Gone, I Remember When I Was Young, Turn Up Your Radio and April Sun In Cuba.

Happy Birthday to New Zealand's greatest band, Split Enz, who formed 40 years ago this month, as Split Ends.

The Temper Trap return to the Top 40 after their Grand Final gig.

Battle Scars GUY SEBASTIAN (number three)
Boom Boom JUSTICE CREW (13)
When The Lights Go Out HAVANA BROWN (31)
Trembling Hands THE TEMPER TRAP (38)

Something For Kate land at five.

Leave Your Soul To Science SOMETHING FOR KATE (number five, debut)
Black Rabbits GRINSPOON (eight, debut)
The Sapphires soundtrack (11)
The Rubens THE RUBENS (13)
The Temper Trap THE TEMPER TRAP (14)
This Was Tomorrow SETH SENTRY (16)
Timomatic TIMOMATIC (21)
Pacifica THE PRESETS (22)
Paradise CODY SIMPSON (31, debut)
Falling & Flying 360 (32)
Chasing Ghosts THE AMITY AFFLICTION (36)

Snakes & Ladders GEORGIA FIELDS

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