“Probably the best gig I ever played was a CD release party in Toronto last year. My song ‘Tough Cookies’ was included on a compilation CD for a Canadian record label, and I played a short acoustic set which was very well received.”

Outside of being a math professor at Edinboro, Frank Marzano enjoys watching foreign films and visiting New York City, but what he enjoys most is playing, writing and listening to music.

“As a kid I was really into baseball, but when I was 14 they went on strike and [that is when] I got interested in music. Music was the first thing I could do reasonably well,” Marzano said. “When I was in my 20s, I fronted a band in the Chicago area. Nowadays, I mainly do solo acoustic shows. I also occasionally play lead guitar in the Brenna Bone Band.”

Marzano further explained that he mainly plays acoustic, bass and electric guitars, but also plays a variety of instruments such as dobro, mandolin, ukulele and keyboard. He enjoys playing original songs over covers and some of his musical inspirations include The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and Electric Light Orchestra. 

He explained that although he mainly plays rock and roll, he does mix in elements of the folk and jazz genres. “For the last year, I’ve been playing lead guitar with the duo of Seann Clark and Brenna Bone. They play contemporary country and pop, and more jam and improvisational stuff. It’s really taken me outside of my comfort zone,” Marzano stated. “That’s a good thing.”

In 2013, Marzano played at the Academy Theatre in Meadville, which seats about 500. He explained that this was one of the bigger venues he’s ever played.

“It’s definitely a different experience,” he said. “You can’t see the expressions on the faces of the audience, so you can’t feed off that as you would in a smaller venue. Mainly I remember the sound bouncing off the back wall and echoing back at me,” Marzano explained. He added that the venue “made it hard to keep time.”

Marzano went on to tell of a venue he enjoyed playing at very much. “One of my favorite places to play was the Barking Spider Tavern in Cleveland [that is now closed],” he said. “[It had] no pool tables, TVs [or] trivia machines, just a stage with musicians on it.”

“Even as an audience member, I enjoyed being there,” Marzano expressed. “I like to play at places where the patrons are there to hear music. I don’t like being background music,” he added.

As for his career as a professor, Marzano has been teaching at Edinboro since 1995.

“I went to graduate school at Northern Illinois University,” Marzano continued. “‘Gen ed classes like Finite Math were taught three days a week in a big auditorium of 500 students. Once a week, students would meet in ‘breakout’ sessions of about 30 students taught by a graduate assistant (which is what Marzano was). That’s when I discovered I really liked teaching college students,” he explained.

“I’ve taught remedial math, graduate-level courses in partial differential equations, and everything in between. I typically teach college algebra, pre-calculus, and discrete mathematics,” Marzano said.

“I like being able to look back at the songs I’ve written and the recordings I’ve made and say, ‘I created that,’” Marzano continued. “I like that I’ve encouraged younger people to get further into music. If you do nothing but math all day, it can make for a very long day.” 

Madi Gross is a staff writer for The Spectator. You can find Frank Marzano's music on www.frankmarzano.com  

 

 

 

 

 

Frank Marzano teaches college math and plays music, but that doesn't mean his genre is math rock. With his professed love for such artists as the Beatles and vintage Beach Boys, that wouldn't add up.

Like his heroes, he's a tunesmith who values strong arrangements, hummable melodies and well-written lyrics that tell a story. He plays a release party for his fourth CD -- "American Proust" -- on Saturday afternoon at Edinboro Lake Resort's Sunset Grill.

So how does a professor with a specialty in differential equations turn out ear-pleasing tunes?

"I tell people that I'm a combination between Elvis and Einstein. I sing like Einstein, and I teach math like Elvis," Marzano said with a laugh.

Though he studied to become a professor, Marzano is a self-taught musician who plays guitar and sings with a high-register voice and occasional falsetto. He lived in the Chicago area -- where he played in a band, Childhood's End -- before earning his Ph.D. and landing his teaching position at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania in 1995.

"I've been listening to rock music for 35 years," Marzano said. "I started out on the three-chord '50s stuff and progressed to the '60s and classic rock and have been building on that ever since. Lately, I've been listening to a lot of jazz."

"American Proust," he says, reflects his songwriting growth, both lyrically and musically.

"I think I've matured. The themes, lyrically, are a lot more adult, a lot more centered around being middle-aged," he said. "One of the songs, 'Sleeping With Strangers' talks about wasting opportunities when you're younger. Another, 'Slow and Steady,' is about the difficulty of meeting people when you're older."

Not every song draws on his McCartney-esque pop.

"It's mainly pop rock, but I think I draw from a wider palette. There's some country there, and some blues," Marzano said. "There's an old '30s-type jazz pastiche."

He described another "American Proust" track as a "mini-opera." Said Marzano: "It's got three distinct movements. When I started writing it, it came out fast, but I was intimidated. I knew it would be a major work, so I was daunted by the idea."

Marzano recorded the 12-song album with another Beatles' fanatic, producer Mike Miller, at Norwegian Studio. He worked, for the first time, with a live band in the studio: drummer John Caruso, bassist Joshua Mayes and mandolin player Adam McKillip. For Saturday's CD release show, he'll be joined by Mayes and drummer Jeff Vaitekunas (drums), and plans to play "American Proust" from start to finish.

About that title ...

"Someone once called me an American Proust because my songs are long, my CDs are long. They were kidding, but I don't mind being compared to one of the greatest authors of all time," Marzano said.

Opening Saturday's show will be Justin Moyar and Justin Hoenke, who are, coincidentally, two of Marzano's former students. Not many colleagues know about his musical side.

"It's kind of a secret-life thing," Marzano said. "I think a lot of people are going to be surprised when they open (the) paper."

That said, Marzano believes the math side of his brain and the musical part are interrelated.

"I think they're very similar. Sometimes you structure a song and you say, 'Well, I want to do the circle of fifths and I want to end on an "E" chord, so what chord do I have to start on?"

Einstein might have struggled with that one.

Not Marzano.

Singer, songwriter, performer, and Edinboro University math teacher all in one. That is Frank Marzano’s outstanding resume. In the past eight years Marzano has captured the musical hearts of northwest Pennsylvania audiences with his Beatles and Beach Boys-inspired pop-rock pieces. Marzano has had a passion for singing and songwriting since he was 14 ears old. “I was really into baseball when I was younger, but then they went on strike when I was 14, so I decided to start listening to music and getting into that. “At my confirmation my grandfather gave me $50 and I went out and bought three albums with it: the Beatles’ Red Album and Blue Album, and the Beach Boys’ Endless Summer.” Marzano did not have extensive musical training; he mainly taught himself how to play guitar and sing. “The only real training that I ever had was at the University of Illinois as an undergraduate and I studied the classical guitar. Other than that I have had no training in this field.” He wanted to pursue music, but his parents wanted him to go into a field in which he could support himself. Marzano remembers his father telling him, “Math, science, engineering - that’s how you get ahead in life. Not the Beatles.” Marzano moved to Edinboro from Illinois to teach in 1995. While he taught, he also played gigs around Erie and Ohio. Marzano started looking into recording his music after he had heartfelt receptions at many shows, but finding the right studio to record in was always an issue. “You have to find the right studio that matches your style and really listens to what you want to come out of your CD. “That’s why when I found Tom Hitt at Cycling Troll in Fairview, I knew he was the right one to produce my CD.” For the next five years, he collaborated with Hitt on his album, and in 2006, But Enough About Me was produced, his follow-up CD to Foul Weather Friend. Marzano now enjoys playing local and out-of state shows. One of his favorite places to play is the Main Perk in Girard. “People actually listen to the music and you don’t have to drown out conversation as you would in a bar. I really get a great response from the people there.” Upcoming shows include the Artists Cup Café in Meadville (March 10), and Eclectic Etceteras Coffeehouse in Edinboro (April 13). For more information on Marzano’s shows or if you would like to listen to selections from any of his CD’s, visit frankmarzano.com.

Q: Your sound has been called Beatle-esque, pop, rock, doo-wop and folk. Which one fits your music best? Regressive rock. A: My music is basically for people who hate new music or what passes for music these days. Q: What other musical styles would you like to try? A: Country music, more folky type of stuff. And maybe the blues, which I'm trying to do on my next record. Q: How far into the new album are you and when can people expect the finished product? A: I am seven songs into it right now. I hope to finish it next summer with a fall release. Q: Who would you say was your biggest influence? A: The Beatles. I can remember when I was a kid, and I got hold of one of their albums on vinyl. I would really focus in on the vocals coming through the speakers on the one side. That's how I learned to make pop music. Q: In 2002, you realized one of your greatest ambitions by playing the Baggot Inn in New York City in support of your first album -- what was that like? A: I was beyond excited. I can remember walking to the Baggot and thinking, 'Wow I'm going to play in New York City.' Then on the way back I thought 'Wow I just played in New York City.' But during the moment of actually playing, it didn't occur to me where I was playing. I was too concerned about messing up the lyrics.

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