Earlier this year I was doing my taxes, and I was delighted to discover that, for the first time ever, I made more money playing music than I spent.

There are other local musicians who make more than me, and I suppose I could have done a better job managing my finances than I did, but one thing of which I am justifiably proud is that I’ve never panhandled.

I’ve been seeing a disturbing number of fundraising pages (Kickstarter, GoFundMe, Patreon) used by musicians to raise money for recording time, to buy equipment, or play out of town gigs. Whatever happened to working your ass off, saving your money, then pursuing your dream?

Pampered millennials? No, because my generation is just as bad. After the Riverside Inn in Cambridge Springs burned down last year, a GoFundMe page was established to rebuild it. Isn’t that what insurance is for?

I myself had a love/hate relationship with the Riverside Inn. The silver-haired coot who owned the place actually yelled at me for reading the newspaper in the dining room, but I loved the fact that they hosted the Riverside Music Festival every spring (organized by local musician Justin Moyar).

I myself was booked to play at this festival in 2016, but cancelled when an opportunity arose to play at the Bullseye Records 30th anniversary party in Toronto that same night. I have no regrets; the Bullseye gig was one of my best shows ever - maybe even the best.

However, despite the demise of the Riverside Inn, Moyar is still keeping the festival going, with performances taking place at various venues in Cambridge Springs.

As you can imagine, my no-show at the 2016 festival severely weakened my bargaining power when negotiating a slot at this year’s festival. I was eventually able to book a slot for Saturday, June 16 at 1pm. Not exactly a time when rock musicians are at their creative best, but hey… sometimes you gotta bloom where you’re planted!

Check out the festival website at

http://www.cambridgespringsmusicfestival.com/index/

I frequently tell people that I’m a cross between Elvis and Einstein… I sing like Einstein and I teach math like Elvis! When most people hear that I teach math and play music, they usually respond that math and music go together. But I think this is a myth. Mathematics is the epitome of logic, while musicians are basically irrational.

Take Alzheimer’s disease… My grandmother, my aunt, and my father all suffered from Alzheimer’s and I fully believe that, one day, it will get me too. You would think that Alzheimer’s research would be more important to me than, say, music. But I only think about Alzheimer’s research a few times a year. I think about music every day.

That’s why I was honored to be invited to play at Crawford County Care Center’s “Longest Day” festival on June 21. June 21 is the “longest day” of the year; that is, the day with the most hours of daylight (in the northern hemisphere, anyway).

It’s also the day chosen by the Alzheimer’s Association to coordinate events around the world to raise awareness for this disease. I’ve played for worthy causes before, but this is the first one in which I actually have a stake.

For more about Longest Day, check out:

http://act.alz.org/site/TR?fr_id=10935&pg=entry

Thanks again for your support, and remember to always make time for music.

 

I’m often asked what kind of guitar I play. I find this is less because people are interested in my guitar than that it gives them an excuse to talk about their own instruments. Today, therefore, I’d like to turn the table and discuss a couple of my guitars.

My main guitar is my 1963 Gibson ES-120T. It’s the bottom of the line of Gibson’s ES series, but that’s like graduating last in your class at Harvard. It’s not terribly expensive for a vintage instrument – some used copies on Ebay are as low as $1300 – but it anything happens to it, they’re not making any more!

I used it when I played with Seann Clark and Brenna Bone at the “Nashville Next” competition at Doc Holliday’s back in September. It’s one of those smoky, “beer and a shot” places where you feel a fight might break out any minute. When I had to go to the bathroom, I took the guitar with me!

To prevent this sort of thing from happening again, I recently purchased an Epiphone Dot Studio. It plays and sounds beautifully… and if anything happens to it, I’m only out $200.

The Dot Studio made its debut last month when I sat in with Seann and Brenna’s other band Sonny’s Fugitives. Their lead guitarist Tony Kellogg and I have been friends for years, but this was the first time we’d ever played together onstage., unless you count open mic at the Villa (and I never count open mic at the Villa).

Brenna – who more or less swept the Rock Erie Music Awards a couple of years ago (Best New Artist, Best Country Artist, Best Original Song) – recently relocated to Nashville, but I’ll be playing with her and Seann at the Edinboro Hotel Bar on Thanksgiving Eve. If you’re in the area, you should check it out. If things go for Brenna the way I think they will, there won’t be many more opportunities to see her in a small venue.

Since I left my old Chicago band Childhood’s End in 1991, the other three guys have been recording under the name The Vinyl Goods. I played bass on their 1994 album Coming Home.

Earlier this year they revisited the master tapes for that album and made some tremendous sonic improvements. Don’t have Coming Home? Buy it at their website https://www.vinylgoods.com/store. Already own it? Buy it again. It’s that good.

It gave me the idea to go back to my 1999 album Foul Weather Friend to see what could be done to it. First off, I’d like to record new drums. The bass guitar parts are basically mud. There are also some out-of-tune guitars, and my singing throughout the disc is pretty poor.

So, I’d have to redo bass, guitars, vocals, and drums… Are you thinking what I’m thinking? If I’m going to do all that, I might as well record a new album from scratch.

Which is exactly what I’m going to do! This way, I wouldn’t be bound to any particular tracklist, and I’d be able to transpose the songs into keys I can actually sing them in.

Why do I want to do this? I’d like to have a decent sounding representation of the songs I wrote between 1991 and 1998 (something I don’t have at the moment).

So, in conclusion, thanks again for your support. If you’re driving anywhere for the holidays please be careful, and remember to always make time for music.

In New York City, there are three Broadways. There’s the “main” Broadway, which runs the entire length of Manhattan. But there’s also a West Broadway (in Soho), and an East Broadway (in the Lower East Side).

The latter two were named by shop owners as a ruse to divert customers looking for the main Broadway. A pretty mean-spirited trick; a person on East Broadway, in particular, would find himself pretty far out of his way.

I never dreamed this would be a problem where I live, but last week I played a gig at the 215 Restaurant in Jamestown. I was so excited to get the gig that I neglected to emphasize that it was in Pennsylvania. As a result, a couple of my friends drove out to see me in Jamestown, New York.

So… aside from that, what’s new? I was delighted when, two months ago, my music was given a positive review by no less an authority by Goldmine magazine:

http://www.goldminemag.com/blogs/cornucopia-new-cd-reviews

If you are unfamiliar with this publication, I urge you to make your acquaintance as soon as possible. Among other things, the reviewer John Borack (author of Shake Some Action: The Ultimate Power Pop Guide) stated that “Marzano’s songs… would sound pretty darned good in a small town bar on a Saturday night.”

Sadly, there are no bar owners in northwest Pennsylvania who agree with this sentiment. But, the farther I go out of the area, the better my music is received. Since the last newsletter, I’ve played very successful gigs in Greenville and Titusville, PA, and have future gigs scheduled in Jamestown, PA and Conneaut, OH. Check www.frankmarzano.com for details.

Getting back to New York City… I’ve been visiting the Big Apple every year since 2001. One of my favorite things to do there is partake of the city’s live jazz offerings. (The West Village, in particular, is a “musical Disneyland”.)

More recently, I’ve gathered up the nerve to talk to some of the jazz musicians there. I was nervous at first, but once they saw I was serious about music they opened up like a book.

One of the questions I usually ask is, “What’s your favorite place in NYC to see music?” To a person, they reply, “Smalls”.

Having been to Smalls, I can understand why. The focus is on the music: no pool tables, big screen TV’s, or kitchen. People talking too loud during the music are actually shushed.

If you were to ask a Cleveland resident that question, the response would probably be, “The Barking Spider”. This was my favorite place in the tri-state area to see music until they shut their doors last year.

This was a particularly great disappointment to me; aside from being one of very few places willing to book me on a semi-regular basis, it gave me an opportunity to interact with Cleveland audiences – a different breed from northwest Pennsylvania audiences. One man told me he said to his wife, “Let’s go see someone we’ve never heard before.” There aren’t too many people in this area with that attitude!

Since the Barking Spider closed, I’ve been trying to find someplace else in Cleveland with a similar vibe. But it hasn’t happened. The Barking Spider was a unique and special place precisely because of the unique and special people who ran it.

Finally, I’ve been continuing with the guitar lessons I mentioned in my previous newsletter. Someday, I’d like to be good enough to play unaccompanied instrumental guitar. Of course, that might take twenty years – and, indeed, that day may never come – but that’s okay. If the only thing I get out of this is that I learn more about music, I will still consider the money well spent. In music, there’s no such thing as wasted effort.

 

 

 

 

 

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