The Show Ponies

The Show Ponies

Freddy & Francine

Tue, January 24, 2017

8:00 pm

$15.00

This event is all ages

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The Show Ponies
The Show Ponies
The Show Ponies will release their newest LP, How It All Goes Down, at the Troubadour on January 24th. The night will feature Los Angeles duo Freddy & Francine opening the show.

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“All music is folk music. I ain’t never heard a horse sing a song.” – Louis Armstrong

A concrete city’s heartbeat lies in its people’s country roots. And in a city full of transplants, sometimes you find a perfect match. When Arkansas native Clayton Chaney came across native Texan Jason Harris in college, it laid the groundwork for a beautiful, musical friendship.

Through collaborations with Harris, Chaney soon met and began writing and performing with fellow Houstonian Andi Carder, whose sassy songstress leanings paired impeccably with his down-home lyrical style. Once Harris heard the duo’s dynamic, he pulled in fellow college music mavens Kevin Brown on drums and Philip Glenn on fiddle, and the Show Ponies soon hit their stride.

Their debut record, 2013’s We’re Not Lost, premiered their brand of energetic, soulful Americana that would become their signature sound. What started as a small side gig quickly picked up speed, as their project soon gained a devoted grassroots following.

Six years after their first show as the Show Ponies, the group has announced their most ambitious project to date, How It All Goes Down. From the driving intro of “The Time It Takes” to the final fiddle note of the title track, How It All Goes Down is a reflection on the end of the world.

Drawing from journeys through heartache, exhaustion, and joy in their time both at home and on the road, the Fab Five look at doomsday through a largely hopeful lens. The same nostalgic bent that first endeared them to fans shows up in tracks like “Kalamazoo” and “Folks Back Home”: odes to how ‘the way things were’ can never be again. Poignant lyrics come alive in the Ponies’ heartfelt harmonies—the four horsemen (and one horsewoman) of a rollicking apocalyptic party.

While no one knows quite what the future does hold, the Show Ponies plan to face it the same way they’ve faced the past six years. Wedding or funeral, high time or dry time, there’s one cross-country tour van ready for whatever lies ahead. For folks like these, there’s only one way to take on whatever’s to come, which is summed up nicely on the final lyric of the forthcoming album:

“Keep on lovin’ you and singing my song.”
Freddy & Francine
Freddy & Francine
“Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage...” or at least that’s what Frank Sinatra pointed out in that familiar standard, “Love and Marriage.” So credit Freddy & Francine for putting a new spin on that sage advice, suggesting instead, “Love and music, love and music, go together like...” (fill in your own lyric here)



With due apologies to the original songwriter, Sammy Cahn, that meshing of the personal and professional has always been integral to Freddy & Francine’s career. While romantic entanglement hasn’t been exactly uncommon when it comes to successful musical duos -- we might mention Buckingham and Nicks, Sonny and Cher, Bonnie and Delaney, and Goffin and King simply for starters -- Freddy & Francine, or, as they’re known to family and friends, Lee Ferris and Bianca Caruso, have built a career that’s been intertwined with their feelings for both their music and each other.



Naturally, that romantic roller coaster offers the potential for plenty of inspiration as far as their songs are concerned, but real life doesn’t always play according to the rules. Nevertheless, the duo’s new album, aptly entitled Gung Ho, offers a celebration of sorts, one that now only finds the couple reunited after going their separate ways, but also on the verge of ascending the next plateau. Recorded -- where else -- at Gung-Ho Studio in Eugene Oregon with an all star cast of players that includes renowned producer and multi-instrumentalist Todd Sickafoose (Anais Mitchell, Ani DiFranci), drummer Ted Poor (Andrew Bird, Bill Frisell), guitarist Kyle Sanna (Chris Thile, Yo Yo Ma) and keyboardist Rob Burger (Lucinda Williams, Ryan Adams, Rufus Wainwright), it purveys a joyful, uplifting, harmony-drenched sound that reflects their commitment to Americana, and to each other. Echoes of Lone Bellow, the Civil Wars and the Swell Season are apparent in its grooves, but the inspiration, originality and enthusiasm are obviously their own.



“We had each gathered so many new experiences and influences in the time we were apart,” Bianca, AKA Francine, explains. “I had been listening to a lot of Todd Sickafoose’s work with Anais Mitchell. So when it came time to record, I couldn’t wait to share these sounds with Lee. We interviewed a lot of potential candidates, but we both decided that Todd would be the dream producer for this project. Surprisingly, he was only a couple of phone calls away, and when he agreed to come on board, we couldn’t have been happier.”



The pair were also pleasantly surprised at the reaction to their funding campaign via Indiegogo, which resulted in donations totalling $20,000. “We were flabbergasted at the amount of support we received,” Bianca continues. “It was amazing to receive such a remarkable reception from our fans after being away so long. It’s impossible to say just how grateful we are.”



Indeed, it’s been their audience’s enthusiasm that have propelled them all along, even in the very beginning. Ferris originally pursued a solo career in his native L.A., performing a combination of what he describes as roots, swing, and “less commercial music that was obscure but fun.” In 2007 he was asked to audition for a role in the 40th anniversary revival of the iconic counter culture musical “HAiR” after a producer caught one of his live performances. Although he had never acted professionally, he was quickly cast for the lead role of Berger. That’s when he met Bianca, who was also featured in the show. The two clicked immediately, and when Bianca expressed an interest in writing some original music together, their professional partnership began in earnest. “It was very apparent right from the start that we had musical chemistry,” Lee recalls. Bianca agrees. “It wasn’t always easy,” she suggests. “But the end result was worthy of our efforts.”



Once the run with “Hair” concluded in 2008, Lee recorded and released a solo album, Introducing Lee Ferris, produced by Christian Nesmith (son of Michael Nesmith). However it soon became evident that they were at their best when performing together. Both had been classically trained, Lee at the Berklee School of Music and Bianca trained in the vocal performance program at Los Angeles Valley College (“I dropped out to be in ‘HAiR,’” she chuckles. “Just so I could ruin my voice and forget everything I learned.”). However, the defining moment occurred when Lee asked her to join him onstage to sing one of their co-compositions, a song entitled “Over and Over.” They dubbed their sound “50s prom rock” and assumed a new guise, calling themselves Freddy & Francine to capture that fanciful spirit. Their newfound fans played along with the ruse, calling out to the duo by their adopted handle. Needless to say, the name stuck.



“It’s transitioned along with our musical trajectory,” Lee observes. “When we started, the environment was chock full of super cutesy pop music in and around L.A. Our music evolved out of that, but the name still seems to work. Sometimes it feels kind of like a tattoo that we’re still forced to explain.”



Freddy & Francine’s self-titled debut EP appeared in 2008, followed by a full length set entitled The Briar Patch the following year. Recorded over the course of nine days at a cabin in northern Arizona and largely self-produced, the album was an immediate success, courtesy of airplay on the influential L.A. radio station KCRW, which also placed one of its songs, “Brownstone Alley,” as its Top Tune of the day.



The two had not yet become romantically involved, and they remained friends and musical partners while setting out to record their next album, 2010’s The Forest and the Sea. Nevertheless, it was quickly becoming clear that their relationship was evolving in a more personal direction. “In many ways, that album was autobiographical,” Lee reflects. “We had written these songs before we realized we had feelings for one another. In the past we had assumed certain fictional characters in order to inhabit our material. But with this album we were stepping into new roles, as ourselves. It was subconscious at first, but it soon became evident that what we were doing was wrestling with a sense of entanglement and struggling with ways to keep our distance and preserve our boundaries while still facing the fact that we were now totally romantically dependent on one another.”



“It was a kind of catharsis,” Bianca recalls. “It helped us make sense of the things that were playing out between us. It plotted out course for the future.”



Except that it didn’t.



As the pair point out, it was the beginning and the end... of both the band and their relationship. They played a sold-out album release party and then broke up, personally and professionally.



That could have been the end of the story, and for the next three and half years it appeared that it was and that indeed their common bond had been forever fractured. Lee went on to play Carl Perkins in the hit Broadway show “Million Dollar Quartet,” while Bianca moved to New York City, and then back to L.A. where she founded a musical comedy duo called Zabruso with her friend Jen Zaborowski, leading to a TV development deal and monthly performances at the house Joni Mitchell once occupied in Laurel Canyon.



In that entire time the two didn’t speak. The ice was broken when Bianca decided to record a solo album, which she dubbed Bravado. She included a song called “I Wanna Go Home With You,” which she and Lee had co-written several years before. That led her to ask Lee to join her in the studio, and in an instant, their music was rekindled.



Now that the two are looking forward to the June release of Gung Ho, as well as the full schedule of upcoming performances that lies ahead, it appears that a happy ending is indeed at hand, belatedly as it seems.



Cue that familiar refrain...



“Love and music, love and music...”
Venue Information:
Troubadour
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069
http://www.troubadour.com/

All lineups and times subject to change