By Nikki Hedrick
As Okaloosa RevFest rolls into its sixth year, the music event’s lineup is dotted with local and regional talent. RevFest 2018 includes The Good Lookings, The Graytones, New Earth Army, I’magene, Holey Miss Moley and The Fritz.
The music kicks off Saturday, April 7, at noon and doesn’t let up until nearly 2 a.m.
North Carolina-based The Fritz is looking forward to their RevFest debut. Featuring Jamar Woods (keyboards and vocals), Jamie Hendrickson (guitar), Jake O’ Connor (bass), Michael Tillis (drums), and Mike Evans (percussion), the band aims to create without genre limitations.
Hendrickson chats with me on his way to the band’s next gig. “We’re actually driving through a snowstorm in upstate New York, close to Buffalo,” he says. “And we’re heading to Syracuse, New York, tonight. But we just got back from Colorado two weeks ago, and that’s actually the farthest that we’ve (toured) from Asheville.”
Although bassist Woods grew up in the Destin area, The Fritz came together at University of North Florida’s School of Music. Now the band calls Asheville, North Carolina, home.
“Well, everyone was going to school,” says Hendrickson. “Studying to be a musician, trying to learn how to play, and everyone was trying to be a musician. We weren’t even friends, we just met because we’re like, Oh you know, Mike is a drummer that we liked. And, you know Mikey, he’s a percussionist, we want percussion, we need Mikey.
“We all just met because we were musicians. We weren’t just like friends that hung out and decided to do some jamming. That would’ve been cool, but that’s not how it happened for us.”
When it came to building the band’s presence, it took years of perseverance with a little trial and error mixed in. From learning the hard way about vehicle purchases (“We bought a van that could not tow a trailer,” Hendrickson quips) to taking every gig thrown their way, The Fritz’s early days found them feeling a kinship with The Blues Brothers.
Although it is The Fritz’s first trek to RevFest, they aren’t strangers to the festival scene. Past appearances include Suwannee, Bear Creek, Wakarusa, and Catskill Chill.
“Well, I mean everyone likes drastically different music,” Hendrickson says of the band’s style. “So you know, it’s just kind of trying to get everyone to cooperate and agree on the best possible thing we can do for each musical decision. Everyone is coming from totally different places, which I think (is) one of the strengths of the band.”
At the end of the day, performance is what takes priority, “We’re a live band. We play live all the time, and it’s definitely for the live experience. And we definitely feel like a rock band at heart, like we put on a rock show.”
“Soul-driven dance rock” is a descriptor that the band often uses on their press material, and I couldn’t peg it any better.
For others who hope to channel their inner Jake and Elwood, Hendrickson’s advice is to jump in with both feet. “I would say just go ahead and do what you love, do what you want to do and try it. You know, just kind of trust yourself and go for it.”
The Fritz will be recording new material this summer, aiming for an album release before the end of 2018. Keep up with the band at TheFritzMusic.com. Purchase tickets for this year’s RevFest at OkaloosaRevFest.com.