Git – South by Southern Hemisphere
Git are the Andrews Sisters if the 1940s trio were featured as Australian tourists in The Last Picture Show. All wide smiles, bouncy rhythms and creamy harmonies with a close eye on the bus timetable, they’re a band that successfully mixes a refreshing innocence and laconic humor with a deep love of American vocal music.
They’re also a band that talks a lot. If between-song patter is one of the hardest arts to master, Git have a black belt. Indeed, the recent release of The Rising Sun Sessions was rumored to come with a bonus spoken-word CD. “That was a joke,” laughs Git’s Sarah Carroll. “Anyone that knows me knows I could talk the leg off an iron chair.”
The band was conceived four years ago as a vehicle for the songwriting and three-part harmonies of Carroll, Suzannah Espie and Trish Anderson. The all-girl nature of the lineup has recently changed with the addition of double bass player Matt Ryan. “He’s playing the role to the hilt,” says Carroll, “by sporting the longest hair in the band.”
The Rising Sun Sessions was recorded live in a Melbourne pub and captures Git’s natural ease with harmonies, between-song rambles, and music informed by the Carter Family, the Jordanaires, Bessie Smith and Dan Hicks.
“A lot of bands almost present a challenge to the audience whereby you have to get over this wall in order to understand what they’re really all about,” Carroll says. “But with us, the onstage vibe is never that serious just because of the sort people that we are. So it’s joyous sounding even when the material is down.”
America’s first taste of Git came in March at the South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. Rejected by the festival’s official committee, the band decided to go anyway, traveling halfway across the world and playing numerous satellite gigs in backyards, restaurants and small bars with Bill Kirchen, Wayne ‘The Train’ Hancock and others.
“It turned out there was a very clear distinction made between the conference and everything else,” Carroll explains. “And everything else is really where it’s at. We ended up doing a couple of shows that were associated with SXSW. But the rest was just Austin rebelling and running this underground thing where all the musicians and the locals hang out. We were on the fringe, but very much involved in what was going on.”
Broad Australian accents and distinctive marching outfits (including slinky torch-style frocks and Sweethearts-of-the-Rodeo cowgirl get-ups) also drew plenty of attention.
“Our accent was a huge icebreaker,” Carroll admits. “Everywhere we went, people would try and take us off. It was uproariously funny to us because nobody could come anywhere near it. Everyone was hopeless at it. Our outfits made a splash too. Wherever we went we dressed the same. We’ve got eight or nine matching things and that worked, because people would come up and say, ‘How come you’re dressed all the same?’ And we’d say, ‘Because we’re a band and here’s where we’re playing next.'”
Safely ensconced back home after their whirlwind guerrilla tour, Git’s members are currently writing songs for a new album; they also recently recorded a version of “Fair And Tender Ladies” for a Gene Clark tribute album called You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever (to be released soon on a Melbourne label). They’re also planning to return to the States in February 2003.
“We’re playing the Folk Alliance in Nashville and we’ll definitely do the SXSW thing again,” Carroll says. “We also want to get to the East Coast and play New York and Maryland and those Northern states.”