Freddy & Francine

Freddy & Francine

Jason Hawk Harris

Wed, August 29, 2018

8:00 pm

Adv Tix $15.00 / DOS Tix $17.00

This event is all ages

Facebook comments:

Freddy & Francine
Freddy & Francine
Authenticity in the music industry is slippery when wet. Everyone praises its value, yet when an
artist is truly authentic, it is often only embraced if it can be easily walked on without slipping and landing
in a pile of genre-related questions.
To the casual observer, Freddy & Francine seem safely cemented as a folk duo. They got the
look. The soulful harmonies. The folk circuit bookings — over 150 a year, including the legendary
Telluride Bluegrass Festival. They’re even getting married. Cute. Even their act’s name is cute. You could
make a movie about it. Someone probably has.
But Freddy & Francine (their actual names are Lee Ferris and Bianca Caruso) aren’t interested in
acting, or genres, or talking or not talking about their relationship. They’ve done all that. They’ve even
recently left their longtime home of Los Angeles for Nashville. And they’ve never looked more like
themselves.
“We just want to play music all the time and we don't care about the rest of the bullshit,” Ferris
said.
And there’s been plenty of bullshit. The Hollywood types, the rat race, the traffic, Ferris’s struggle
with alcoholism (he’s now five years sober). Longtime fans know that the band took a three-year hiatus
when Ferris and Caruso’s relationship unraveled, a time which found Ferris turning his back on music
while driving trucks in L.A., and Caruso working an office job in New York.
During this break, both seemingly were able to land on their feet. Ferris was cast as Carl Perkins
in the Broadway and touring productions of Million Dollar Quartet, and Caruso co-wrote and filmed a
television pilot in Joni Mitchell’s Laurel Canyon home (her friend rents it), featuring Seth Rogen, and sold
the thing to ABC.
But appearances can be deceiving.
“I was miserable in the whole process, because I wasn't connected to myself in my gut,” Caruso
said. “I didn’t enjoy it. I enjoy traveling and playing music.”
Despite rockin’ in Perkins’ blue suede shoes from Memphis to Japan, in front of thousands of
people, Ferris was also unhappy because he was singing someone else’s songs.
“My heroes were Joni Mitchell, The Stones, Dylan, B.B. King, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Carl Perkins, the
guys who just tapped into something in themselves, who needed to write and speak their own truth.
That’s who I am,” Ferris said.
Adding, “The experience of sitting down with an instrument and coming up with something for the
first time, you can’t beat that. The best experience I’ve ever had as a person doing that, and coming up
with something that is bigger than the sum of its parts, is with Bianca.”
But this is all old news. Freddy & Francine are full-time musicians with three full-length albums
and two EPs, with a new Nashville-recorded EP on the way. The six-song “Moonless Night,” co-produced
by Dan Knobler (Lake Street Dive, Rodney Crowell) finds Freddy & Francine — which has often used full
bands on its recordings — still produced but more intimately portrayed, a sound closer to the duo’s live
performances.
But don’t call it folk music. It’s too energetic.
“We’re performers. We’re not just folk musicians who play and sing mellow songs with little voices
… there’s screaming,” Caruso said.
Don’t call it Americana either. They don’t wear hats. Besides, Caruso says, “The minute you think
one of our songs is an Americana song, it can turn into a retro pop song.”
Despite the reaction of most roots music fans to the dreaded “P” word, Caruso says she doesn’t
mind Freddy & Francine being labeled a pop band.

“Pop music gets a bad rap, but it comes from the word ‘popular.’ I’d love to be popular,” she said.
“I never discriminate against a song because it’s popular if it stays in your head … every Beatles song is a
pop song.”
But mostly, Freddy & Francine sounds like Freddy & Francine. It ain’t the easiest thing to explain,
but it makes sense when you hear it, and finally, it makes sense to the two people who matter most.
“I’m really happy with who I am and I'm happy with the life I have,” Ferris said.
At the end of the day, or road, authenticity is internal. Watch your step.
Jason Hawk Harris
Jason Hawk Harris
Years before developing his own brand of confessional, cathartic country music — a sound he describes as "meta-apocalyptic country/Americana grief-grass" — Jason Hawk Harris chased a different muse as a classically-trained composer.

He was rooted in the orchestral influence of modern classical music from the 20th and 21st centuries. He loved the theory, the disjunct forms and the rawest of emotional palettes. It all started with a fondness for Queen, whose albums accounted for some of the most frequently-heard records in Harris' Houston household. The band sounded progressive, mixing the punch of rock & roll with the complexity of symphonic music. From there, Harris discovered Debussy and Mozart, then Stravinsky and George Crumb. He eventually enrolled in music school and graduated with a degree in composition, which he immediately began putting to use.

After writing thousands of measures of classical music, though, Harris found himself drawn back to the country, folk, and rock music that had soundtracked his early childhood. He'd grown up listening to classic crooners like Hank Williams, Roy Orbison, Jim Croce, Patsy Cline, and Elvis. That music had laid a sort of musical bedrock that couldn't be ignored. Later, after hearing bluegrass musician Michael Daves playing a stirring guitar solo, Harris knew he needed to somehow incorporate his country-loving childhood into his songs.

"Hearing Michael Daves tackle that solo really woke me up," he remembers. "There was something wild about the way he played. He played with abandon. Something sparked in me again — the same spark I'd heard when I first discovered Brian May's guitar solo on 'It's Late' — and everything changed."

Harris began cutting his non-classical teeth with the Show Ponies, an Americana group based in L.A. He played guitar for the band and produced most of their albums, racking up several million Spotify streams along the way. Meanwhile, problems arose in his personal life — including a family history of addiction, which ultimately resulted in the early death of his mother — and began fueling Harris' need to write his own music.

Released in November 2017, the five-song Formaldehyde, Tobacco and Tulips marks Harris' debut as a solo artist. It's an emotional EP about joy, pain, sorrow, and grief, tied together with autobiographical lyrics and sharp, detail-rich songwriting. The record also paves the way for Harris' full-length album, which draws a distinct bridge between his country and classical roots.

"I love country music because it's built upon a collision of the sad and specific," says the songwriter, whose music evokes comparisons to imaginative Americana frontmen like Daniel Romano and Robert Ellis. "It is equal parts devastation and catharsis."

Although performed with traditional country instrumentation — including acoustic and electric guitar, pedal steel, bass, strings, piano, and the occasional harmonium — Harris' LP reaches far beyond the genre's rootsy influence. There are complex harmonic structures, acrobatic arrangements, and unexpected intervals. There are cathartic songs about love and addiction. A classically-trained composer turned country singer, Jason Hawk Harris proudly operates within his own lane, proving that there's something stirring and compelling about musical culture clash.
Venue Information:
Troubadour
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069
http://www.troubadour.com/

All lineups and times subject to change