William Fitzsimmons lays it all out at City Winery

Fitzsimmons+performing+at+City+Winery.

Leo Woods

Fitzsimmons performing at City Winery.

Indie-folk artist William Fitzsimmons returned to City Winery for the first time since 2019 for his first US headline tour in over three years.

The folk singer is currently on the road being supported by Stuart Smith, a small artist who owns his own roastery and makes his own coffee when he’s not on the road. The two friends live 15 minutes away from each other and see each other multiple times a week when not touring. 

“It’s so great [touring with Stuart], he’s literally one of my best friends, it definitely makes it easier,” said Fitzsimmons in an interview with The Journal.

Smith put on a great opening performance, clearly very happy to be touring and performing. He cracked jokes with the audience in between songs as he explained the meanings behind his cover-filled performance. He fit right in with Fitzsimmons’ typical audience, playing melancholy acoustic guitar songs with a few on piano. 

“I’m always amazed that anyone outside of my mom listens to my music,” Smith joked as he stood on the stage. “And I don’t even think she likes my music”

The singer’s Southern accent added a soothing twang to his performance, from his cover of “Disarm,” originally by the Smashing Pumpkins, to his original song “We Will Disappear” the singer showed off not just his sweet vocals, but his impressive guitar and piano skills as well. 

“I really hope I can say I gave you the same amount of joy [that you guys gave me] but I just played 25 minutes of sad s*** so,” Smith joked before finishing his act.

Following the charming opening from Smith, Fitzsimmons began playing as soon as he walked onto the stage, impressing the crowd with his musical skills during his song “Lions,” and setting the gloomy mood. 

The audience could feel the performance would be casual and intimate the minute Fitzsimmons arrived on stage. It wouldn’t have mattered if he played for a crowd of 5 or 500, the singer made sure everyone in the crowd knew how much he appreciated them being there. 

Though the artist admits his music can be heavy and sad, he kept the mood light as he joked in between songs. From sarcastically saying he’d like to switch it up and play something acoustic and sad to joking that he’ll let the crowd know which divorce a song he plays is from, the audience appreciated the comic relief.

Fitzsimmons’ music is the definition of  “heart on your sleeve,” leaving no details out from his dark family history, from his divorces to his ex-wife who cheated on him.

Though the tour is technically for his recent album “No Promises: The Astronaut’s Return,” the singer revealed that his sets don’t always focus on the discography from his recent releases.

“The way I look at it, people spend their hard-earned money to come and see me, so I’m gonna entertain them. So if they wanna hear me play a song I wrote 15 years ago – dammit, I’m gonna play that song,” said Fitzsimmons.

Fitzsimmons also has a master’s degree and spent years as a mental health therapist, and openly speaks on the time he spent speaking to people on the couch and being on the couch himself. 

After making it clear how much he cares for his fans, and displaying his knack for depressing music on stage, Fitzsimmons elaborated on why he feels sadness is an important thing to have.

“You need the shadow to be able to appreciate the sun,” he said.  “For me, music is a thing I can use to figure out what I’m feeling.”

Fitzsimmons added that the power of music extends beyond emotions, rather, it affects every part of life.

“If I had to choose blindness or deafness, I’d take blindness because I wouldn’t wanna lose music,” the singer said. “The thought of losing music is terrifying”

The singer admitted to the crowd that he took up day-drinking during the pandemic, and he talked to fellow artist friends about where to go next and how to get through this. Fitzsimmons said he found his way back to covers, as he originally did when he first started out. He stated that it really gives him joy to make covers of beloved songs.

Fitzsimmons’ expressed his relief to be taking a break from writing his own music for awhile, and will be focusing on covers for the time being, already having released “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division, “Annie’s Song” by John Denver and “Your Song” by Elton John. Fans can expect a full covers album to be released soon. 

“It’s nice to not just do another sad breakup song, to now [do covers] and instead say here’s this really pretty love song,” said Fitzsimmons.

The artist is hopeful he will change his tune in the future, and anticipates his time spent working on covers will influence his own songs when he starts writing again.

Through both his lyrics and responses, Fitzsimmons’ proves to be the most human artist one could meet. He has a way of making one feel like you’re two friends talking. The artist’s humble and warm persona is heartwarming, and he makes it clear how important honesty is to him which is why he’s so transparent with his music and what he’s really writing about.

Fitzsimmons’ most recent release, “Your Song” is now streaming on all music platforms.

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