BRISTOL, Va. — Logan Fritz crossed Piedmont Avenue on Tuesday morning, guitar on his back.
To Blackbird Bakery he walked, then entered, as Billie Holiday’s velvety voice beguiled through speakers unseen.
“Hey, man,” said Fritz. “So excited!”
Fritz shepherds Fritz & Co. to downtown Bristol and the 20th Annual Border Bash on Friday, June 7. Presented by Believe in Bristol, Friday’s bill includes Mr. Nobody & The Extras.
“I’m honored that Bristol embraces our music,” said Fritz, 20, of Abingdon. “The Bristol music scene is highly important to us.”
A fixture in Bristol since his mid-teenaged years, Fritz first played Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion in 2014. Of late, the Abingdon High School graduate thrilled a packed audience in February at The Bristol Hotel’s Lumac Rooftop Bar.
“My main goal in high school was to play Rhythm & Roots,” he said, “and I did it in my sophomore year.”
En route to today, Fritz encountered demons in the form of drug addiction. Fodder for a batch of new songs, his past rings prominently among the crunching rock and bluesy roll of Fritz & Co.
“I found myself going down some dark alleys as a young man,” Fritz said. “I talked about that on our album, ‘Sweet Rock ‘n’ Roll,’ but more with these new songs. They are pretty dark. I lost some friends, took a toll on my family relationships. These songs are about overcoming things.”
Anticipate five or perhaps six newly written, yet-to-be-recorded songs from Fritz & Co. during Border Bash. Musically bathed in grit and grime, the tunes match their lyrics.
“There’s a song called ‘Running the Show,’ which is about telling everybody that you’ve got problems under control, but really you’re about to break,” Fritz said. “It’s definitely rocky-bluesy. We entered it in the NPR Tiny Desk Concert Contest.”
Ragged guitar leads and introspective lyrics provide Fritz & Co’s foundation. A three-man revelation, their music exists as more than simply music for its leader.
“For me, a guitar is like a sword to a knight,” Fritz said. “It’s protection for me. A wand to a wizard, without the guitar, I can’t tell my story, do anything.”
Engaged to the six-string since age 11, Fritz navigates rock ‘n’ roll when plugged in, folk when acoustic. Because he’s ventured into some of life’s darker realms, the blues embodies both approaches for Fritz.
“Of all my loves, the biggest high I’ll ever have is when I play in front of a crowd,” he said. “It overtakes me. Like, I threw my guitar into the air for the first time a few days ago during ‘Sweet Rock ‘n’ Roll.’ Like, ‘Oh no! What have I done?’”
Through sips of coffee and a shake of the head, a sheepish grin spread wide across his face.
“Hey,” Fritz said. “it’s rock ‘n’ roll. It takes me over.”