Monday, November 25, 2013

Rockit Broadcast Nov. 25, 2013 - Music, Comedy, Burlesque, Culture





BURLESQUE, COMEDY, MUSIC, CULTURE
Listen on SOUNDCLOUD.COM

Rockit Broadcast Nov. 25, 2013
Voice Narration: Frankie Tease
Writing: Frankie Tease
Production: Frankie Tease
Music: Chase Frank and end loop Moonlight Howlers

Music- As of now, "Smokehouse Sessions by one of my all time faves is out and ready for you to buy. It's brand new music from the Jackie Wilson sound-alike Si Cranstoun. He's the sensation from Surrey (that's London England) and there is no sound like his. Go directly to sicranstoun.com, that's S-i C-r-a-n-s-t-o-u-n. The new double album by Eminem is also available now entitled the Marshall Mathers LP 2. Em stated recently that his album is not a sequel to MMLP1, but a revisitation. The new album has 21 tracks of his mean lean and clean rap stylings. Many say he has lost no edge but improved in this effort. I haven't got the album yet, but it's on my to do list.  Comedy- In comedy, Conan O'Brien just celebrated 20 years of late night television. NBC even lent or rented him clips of his previous show. That guy is my hero. So few actual redheads have made it in showbiz, and the ones that I used to think were so imagine were redheads from the bottle. C'mon, you guys don't have to get all the side-effects, sunburns, growing up uncool. Conan Conan Conan! Looks like he's not only survived his transition to TBS, but has flourished. Burlesque- The Iowa Burlesque Festival just wrapped up and it featured the one and only legendary Tempest Storm. (I have no idea why more Vegas don't have her as a guest - This magnanimous performer still turns heads and makes headlines. She's back in Vegas now, and back to filming the new documentary about her life. She says she wants to leave a legacy for all her fans, that have stood by her all these years.  Culture- In culture there's been a lot of 50 anniversaries this week. We've just passed the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. The, there was the 50th anniversary of Dr. Who, and last but not least the 50th anniversary was reached this year by the James Bond film franchise. Incidentally, if you like addictive free games, Doodle Googles made fun one to honor the Dr. Who anniversary. My best time was 12 minutes. Let me know if you can beat that, it's really fun. Just search Google Doodles Dr. Who. 

This week's backing track is by my sister Chase Frank. Listen and buy her music at chasefrank.com

Got some burning news about burlesque, comedy, music, or culture? Got a slick back-track for us to feature on the broadcast? Tip us off by email at rockitbroadcast[at]gmail[dot]com. I'm Frankie Tease, see you next time on the Rockit Broadcast.

Friday, November 22, 2013

International Burlesque Sensation and Performer Perle Noire Makes Herstory


An In-Depth Interview  
by Kaylin Idora


This article was originally published world-wide in "The Best of Frankie Tease Vol. 2" ebook, August 2013.


The first time I encountered the magnanimous performer known as Perle Noire was at Dita Von Teese's "Strip Strip Hooray!" show in Las Vegas, May, 2012. An eye-level stage while standing, I remember looking up and saying "Love you Perle" and she looked back and said "love you too". Not only is her act distinct, she is a powerful dancer with a natural and subtle command of the audience, and the musicality of a goddess. The body? Well, hers leaves nothing to be desired with tone just about everywhere you can imagine. The good thing, is you don't have to imagine, because she'll show you. Her topless acrobatics are a high point for any show she is involved in, bar none. She leaves nothing but ovations in her wake as the audience cries for more.

Her love of the bygone era is not only evident, but brought to stage. She was just voted number five for the 2012 top 50 Burlesque figures on 21stCenturyBurlesque.com (along with Dita Von Teese, Dirty Martini, Jo Weldon, and Michelle L'amour). Let Miss Noire tell in her own words what she has done, is doing, and will do, related to her many talents. Her adoring fans across the nation and globe expand with each performance, so it's time for everyone to get to know the one and only Perle Noire.

FT: When did you start performing on stage and what was your first genre? What is your stage background?
PN: I started performing at the tender age of two. My mother said I was a dramatic actress from the beginning. When I was a child I would dance everywhere, and I do mean everywhere. For example, my mother would take me to Venice Beach (CA.) and I would steal the show from the break dancers. I was a ham. I had aspirations of becoming a world renowned actress, gymnast, pop star, and ballroom dancer. Unfortunately, I missed the opportunity to study the art of entertainment properly, but you can't keep a passionate artist down. I taught myself how to dance by imitating Janet Jackson and the glamorous ballroom dancers featured on PBS. As soon as I graduated from high school, I moved into a hotel and saved up money to pursue my dreams. One day I woke up and decided to move to Las Vegas with a back-pack and ambition. The rest is herstory.

FT: Did you grow up in New Orleans?
PN: Not in my present life. I'm originally from Dallas, Texas. However, Perle Noire was born in NOLA. I am proud to say New Orleans adopted me and the creative process began there. I crossed paths with some of the most creative and loving characters in my life. I'm truly grateful to the creator for sending me to the beautiful city. New Orleans became the heart beat of the creation that is Perle Noire, The Black Pearl.

FT: What or who drew you to burlesque and when?
PN: I like to tell people burlesque chose me. I had an unwavering avidity to become an actress and a ballroom dancer. Luckily for me the stars had a different path aligned. Burlesque chose me when I moved to New Orleans. I was focused on becoming a proclaimed thespian and singer, and as fate would have it, I saw an audition for a burlesque musical called "Backstage at Da Fonky B" in the Gambit. The musical was about a famous TV host (Oprah Winfrey type) named Brownie Glendale, and a tenacious reporter looking to uncover secrets of her scandalous past as a burlesque dancer. I was fortunate enough to join the ensemble of the urban burlesque musical as the witty, animated, free spirit, Lolli Fedicci. I was truly dedicated to this role. I spent countless hours reading about vaudeville, the Chitlin' Circuit, and the burlesque starlets from the past. This is where my infatuation began. I fell in love with the art form and for the first time in my life, I felt at home. I love burlesque because it encompasses so many styles of artistry and entertainment. Burlesque features dance, comedy, music, glamour, thespian art and showmanship. Burlesque is also one of the oldest forms of theater and I'm proud to be apart of the preservation of the art form. I'm grateful for the gift bestowed upon me.

FT: How did you align your path with the legendary performer and NAACP star Josephine Baker? 
PN: During my research for my roll as Lolli Fedicci, I was re-introduced to Josephine Baker (along with many other talented black vaudeville and burlesque entertainers). I was captivated by two photographs of Josephine Baker. The first picture featured the great Josephine Baker in black face and the next photo showcased a costume so ornate, Liberace would be green-eyed. I finally had someone to identify with. Josephine was poor, uneducated, illegitimate, and she wasn't a proper dancer. She was ridiculed because of her skin tone and was constantly teased because of her appearance. While reading her story I was overwhelmed with the familiarity and moments of deja vu. Her story was my deliverance. Growing up, I spent most of my adolescence poor, misunderstood, and an exiled outcast. I was severely bullied and cast aside like a peasant. However, I always had a ravenous desire to become a star. Josephine's perseverance, vitality, bountifulness, exuberance and her down right bad-ass attitude inspired me to become more than my circumstance.That's why it's important for me to keep her legacy alive.

by Tonya Armbruster

FT: How many countries and states have you performed your burlesque to date?
PN: I'm proud to say I've been invited to grace the stage with every burlesque queen in the world and at nearly every state in America. I've traveled abroad to Canada, London, Tokyo, Madrid, Milano, Melbourne, Rome, Sydney, to name a few. I'm pleased to announce that I'll be featured in the 2013 Australian Burlesque Fest.

FT: How do you stay in such amazing shape, and perform your high-energy acrobatics?
PN: Thank you for your kind words. My high energy acts have become one of my trademarks that has brought a certain level of success, particularly overseas. I don't want to disappoint the audience so I prepare for my performances each day. I like to rehearse daily to keep my body limber and to maintain my momentum. When I'm preparing for a show or tour I tend to eat a lot of fish, brown rice and vegetables. During my performances I believe La Baker's spirit is the driving force behind the energy that exudes from within. Along with my passion and gratitude to the audience.

FT: What is one of the most outstanding audience moments for you so far?
PN: I've had so many captivating moments with the beautiful faces in the audience from city to city during the years. However, some of my most memorable moments happened this year. I performed my tribute to Africa at the 2012 Burlesque Hall of Fame Pageant. After my performance, I received a text from the legendary Kalani Kokonuts, informing me that I received a full house standing ovation. I couldn't believe it. I was proud of that showcase because the act represents my vision of Africa. I was overjoyed by the warm reception. Later that night I received the Most Dazzling Dancer award. 
Another memorable moment happened in New Orleans at the House of Blues during the Bustout Burlesque show. Some man convinced his girlfriend to come to our show and let me tell you, she wasn't having a good time. This woman sat in the front row and made snide remarks to her friend during the show. She sat with her arms crossed and gave every performer the piercing Sour Puss Stank Face. By the time I graced the stage she was still relentless. I called her out on her behavior during my performance. To prove my point I jumped off of the stage and walked up to her and said "They're just breast!" She finally had to give in and have a good time. The video is on YouTube. It's a hit. 

FT: How did you become cast for "Strip Strip Hooray!" with Dita Von Teese, and what has your experience been like on tour?
PN: Dita Von Teese tweeted to her followers that she was in search of a local burlesque performer for her upcoming show in New Orleans and my beautiful fans kept singing my praises. She saw my video on You Tube and decided to feature my La Baker act in her burlesque concert. The show was also in association with my long time friend, Rick Delaup. I can't reveal too much about the tour but I will say that the experience has been priceless and filled with countless shenanigans. I'm on tour with burlesque royalty. It's validating to say the least.

FT: What type of music are you drawn to perform to?
PN: I have to admit I'm drawn to big band standards, jazz and juke-joint blues. I believe that I'm at my best when I'm jamming onstage to a live band. I love to feel the vibration and energy from the musicians. Every now and again I'll explore music of this generation but my heart is in the old school standards.

FT: What type of music do you listen to for fun, and what do you listen to for pre-performance times?
PN: My iPod as everything from Etta James to Edith Piaf. Before my performance I listen to a mixture of gritty blues, rhythm and blues and rap. To date my pre-show playlist includes Biggie Smalls, Miguel, Mikumari, James Brown and Jay-Z.

FT: Who is inspiring to you out of the current International or U.S. burlesque performers?
PN: All of the people in my life are the motivational forces who inspire me to become more than I am. I'm surrounded by intellectuals, artists, entrepreneurs and loving mothers. If I have to name a few people within my circle who aren't in the burlesque scene it will have to be Thias Mills, Kali Red, Mikumari Caiyhe and Terry McDermott. Ms Thais Mills is a painter, poet, actress and the founder of The Literacy Online Magazine LipService Ink. Another extraordinary woman inspiring me is the New Orleans socialite and humanitarian, Kali Red. Ms. Kali Red is an advocate for stopping the violence and promoting domestic abuse awareness. She's constantly giving back to the homeless and taking an active stance in supporting her community. 
These woman are entrepreneurs and they're constantly creating new ways to promote business, philanthropy, and leadership in the city of New Orleans. Terry McDermott is a long time friend and now a local hero. Terry is a recording artist who sings in the band Lotus Crush. He is currently featured on the hit TV series "The Voice". To date, he's made it to the top four and he's hit number one on the iTunes Rock charts. And last but not least, my current muse, Mikumari Caiyhe. M.C. is an established actor, emcee, spoken word poet, and arts educator. Terry McDermott and Mikumari Caiyhe albums are available on iTunes. These people (to name a few) motivate and captivate me. I want to do more for my community at home and abroad. I have to surround myself with men and woman who inspire me to reach new heights. It's the only way I can survive. 

FT: How hard is it to have personal or romantic relationships with the high profile life of a performer?
PN: Well, I've been single for eight years, so I have to say it seems like an allegory or game of chess that I haven't learned to master. I hear about these women who have a career, a supporting lover, and children but I'm starting to think it's simply an urban legend. I know if I were a man I would have lovers on stand by but I'm not a man so I have to deal with the price of my divine gift. I also have to admit that I'm extremely shy and men rarely approach me. I lead a beautiful, glamorous life but it's also a life of solitude. I would love to find someone crazy enough to walk with me in this colorful labyrinth I call life. I hope to have it all one day but until then I will cherish the constant love from my friends, peers, fans and the stage.

FT: What is your most coveted award or accomplishment to date?
PN: I've been blessed with an abundance of opportunities and memories with my talented burlesque sisters Dulce De Leche & Gin Minsky, along with every burlesque queen known to man. However, my most coveted accomplishment to date happened in 2009. I had the pleasure and honor to grace my idol's chateau in France. It was surreal.

FT: Would you expound just a bit on visiting your idols chateau in France? 
PN: There I was in France with Immodesty Blaze and Kalani Kokonuts, standing at the entrance to Château de Malmaison (Josephine Baker's home). My legs frozen, I stood there for a moment to catch my breath while fighting back the tears of joy. I was overwhelmed and anxious to experience the glorious event. When I finally worked up the nerve to walk where my idol walked, I could feel her spirit throughout the space. The mood was intoxicating and serene. I took another step slowly to take in the air, & the extravagance. And then I saw her . The museum showcased a beautiful nude portrait of the Black Venus. She was a vision. 
People were walking around, talking, laughing and I stood still, in a trace, mesmerized by her physique, beauty, and resilience. Soon after, I made my way to the showroom featuring the historic banana skirt. I was looking at an idolized piece of history. The skirt represented so many beautiful, dark fantasies & realities. I remember feeling proud and inspired. Proud to be a woman. Proud to be black. Proud to be a part of the burlesque community. In that moment I knew I had a purpose and a calling from Josephine. I knew I was the chosen one.
After I wiped my tears, I found myself in her dainty baby blue bathroom. It was so exquisite. I turned towards the window and saw the view. Oh, the view! Acres of land, trees and beauty. I sat there for awhile. Pondering. Praying. Talking to Josephine. I felt at home. And just when I thought I had seen it all, I walked into the opulent costume showroom. My goodness she was the most grand peacock of them all! Silk, crystals and feathers were displayed on petite mannequins. I was in burlesque utopia. The museum showcased her lavish lifestyle and I was reminded of the many reasons why she was one of the most influential women of all time.
One of the last rooms featured her medals for her service as an intelligence liaison in the French Resistance during World War ll. I was in awe. She was more than an entertainer. She was a ground-breaking business woman, civil rights activist, and a loving mother. I was in my idols home. How many performers can say that?

FT: What are your life-long goals or immediate goals now in your life?
PN: I have so many dreams to fulfill for the future. For example, I plan on starting a dance program for abused and under privileged children around the world. I'm currently focused on my autobiography and of course I would love to work with producers in Paris to create a burlesque revue inspired by La Baker. In the near future, I plan to study abroad and receive my Masters in Psychology to transition from burlesque performer to dance therapist.

FT: What was your first time performing in Vegas like, and when was it?
PN: I competed in 2008 in the 'best debut' category (Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend) and I was terrified . Even though I started my burlesque career in 2003, I was unknown in the community and at the festival. I never expected to win. I was pleased to finally encounter acceptance and applause instead of scrutiny and ridicule. The community welcomed me with open arms.

FT: When can we expect you to perform in Vegas next?
PN: I hope to have the opportunity to present my Satin Doll act next year. This act is a tribute to the one and only, Toni Elling. Toni Elling was Duke Ellington's protege. The song "Satin Doll" was inspired by this enchanting lady. I hope to present my act at the 2013 Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend. This will be a slow, elegant and delicate performance - well, my version of slow.

View perlenoireburlesque.biz for Perle Noire's tour dates and updates, what a woman.

Art by Olivia De Berardanis


Related Links:


Monday, November 18, 2013

Rockit Broadcast Nov. 18, 2013 - National - US - Burlesque, Comedy, Music, Culture News



BURLESQUE, COMEDY, MUSIC, CULTURE
Listen on SOUNDCLOUD.COM



Rockit Broadcast Nov. 18, 2013
Voice Narration: Frankie Tease
Writing: Frankie Tease
Production: Frankie Tease
Music: Jennifer Keith Quintet and
End Loop Moonlight Holwers


Hey welcome to the Rockit Broadcast for Nov. 1i, 2013, I'm Frankie Tease. In Burlesque- Several American stars of stage and screen performed for "Peepshow at Paradiso Tanzbar" in Munich Germany. Names included: Vegas's Kalani Kokonuts, New York's Stormy Leather, Lou Lou D'Vil, Dirty Martini, and Armitage Shanks for a few mentions. It's actual German title is Peep Show Fünf Jahre Paradiso Tanzbar which is also the name of its facebook page. Good luck with that, the photos are worth the search. The extravagant competition is set as mentioned in our previous broadcast to judge who's the best in Burlesque (nationally). They have a site and its Burlympics.com. The date is set for the Burlympics as Sept. 7&8, 2014, at Club Fais Do Do, a burlesque stronghold in LA. In Vegas the David Saxe Productions Group just put together Zombie Burlesque, a new show. This guy is a real pro at bringing his shows value, including live orchestras, amazing dancers and choreography, and bedazzling show sets. I guess it made an impression on him that his mother was one of the original Vegas showgirls. He also offers "Vegas the Show", about the founding of the city, filled with showgirls and plumed head dresses. In ComedyJR DeGuzman (Feature Comedian), Scandal (magician) - Chris Randall, Mike Reynolds (Headlining Comedian), Buttercup Delight (burlesque) all make up the Sapphire Comedy Hour in Vegas. See SapphireComedyHour.com for more - and remember sapphire has two p's. In Hawaii, the always hilarious and politically and religiously edgy Bill Maher will be in Honolulu New Year's Eve. Gabriel Iglesias (of Long Beach!) will be performing at the Tempe Arizona Improv. Tickets are really going fast and start at $40 for the Dec. 27 show. "Fluffy" is his nickname, and he's known for his food humor, latino humor, and today's culture humor. Fluffy is fun to follow on Twitter too @fluffyguy[+Gabriel Iglesias]. I learned from the Colbert Report what a "trucker bomb" is this week. It's a plastic bottle that has been urinated into which is tossed from a moving truck to the side of the road. Thanks Colbert. And lastly in comedy, Legendary Comedian Bill Cosby has announced his first stand-up special in decades - to be aired November 23rd. Filmed in July according to USA Today, the special entitled "Far From Finished" will air Nov. 24th on Comedy Central. Seek that out.  Music- One of the best well-balanced musical soundtracks I've head in a while came in a Netflix streaming British film called "The Heavy". I highly recommend it, for a fun action film. The City of Las Vegas now has a performing arts center, have you heard? It's called the Smith Center (in it's 2nd or 3rd year of existence) and one of its recent engagements caught some national attention. The Las Vegas Dance Theater Fall Concert Series involved the Alvin Ailey Group and music from composers alive in 1910, such as Igor Stravinsky. Las Vegas is trying to compete and show that it's actually got world-class entertainment. It's not just with Cirque De Soleil on the Strip. The Smith Center is located in old Vegas, in Downtown. Culture- The only official Bettie Page Film documentary that involved Bettie herself is in United States wide release all through the end of the year. See BettiePageRevealsAll.com for the theater times and dates near you, and don't miss the wide screen expereience of the film you also can own on DVD. That's BettiePageRevealsAll.com Blythe Stephens and Mareva Minerbi are two featured classical dancers who perform “Blue-Green,” as a part of Kennedy Theatre’s “Look Back: Move Forward” production at UH-Manoa (Hawaii). There are still Nov. 22, Nov. 23 and 24th dates available. The cost is $5-$25 and more info is at etickethawaii.com as well as at the University of Hawaii at Monoa.

This week's featured music is by the Jennifer Keith Quintet entitled "Sentimental Journey", and is arranged by Tenor Saxiphonist Mando Dorame. More can be learned about them at JenniferKeith.com and remember Keith is spelled k-E-I-t-h.

Got some burning news about burlesque, comedy, music, or culture? Got a slick back-track for us to feature on the broadcast? Tip us off by email at rockitbroadcast[at]gmail[dot]com. I'm Frankie Tease, see you next time on the Rockit Broadcast.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tidbits and Teasers, Winter in Venice, Neon Museum, Vinyl at Vegas Hard Rock


This article was originally published July of 2013 in 
"The Best of Frankie Tease Magazine Vol.2"
"Winter in Venice" at Venetian spares no expense with elaborate 
costumes, strolling carolers, nightly skate rink performances, 
concerts, and VIP appearances. It's winter in the desert.

Winter in Venice at the Venetian 
(Las Vegas) For the third year, the Venetian Hotel will transform itself into "Winter in Venice". The Italian-themed hotel has an L.E.D. tree spectacular, a nightly parade with the White Winter Queen, and her royal court, and a polymer skate rink (fitting for the desert). Beautiful winter white is dominant, as will be roving holiday carolers throughout the front free nightly show and the entire hotel property. Mmmm, hot chocolate anyone?

Neon Museum Gets New Digs
The Neon Museum, though established in 1996, has been growing steadily in its procurement of signs and acreage. It's newer location includes the lobby building of the famous Las Vegas La Concha Hotel designed by the first prominent African American Architect in the United States, Paul Williams. The La Concha was created in 1961, and housed the hotel lobby until 1963. In 2005 it was stopped from demolition and cut in three parts to be moved to its new location. The Neon Boneyard tours run 45 mins. 10-4pm M-Sat. $18, $12 Students, Seniors, Vets, Nevada residents. Children under 6 are free. (Begins Oct. 27, 2012). The La Concha Visitors Center is open 9:30-5:30 M-Sat. NeonMuseum.org, 770 Las Vegas Blvd. N., Las Vegas, 89101.

Vinyl at Hard Rock
The new venue at the Rock Hotel has been hosting DJ's, novelty acts, and rock and roll legends. The brick and wood floor Chicago looking interior doesn't seem very Vegas, it's a welcome throwback. The sound and lighting are amazing, and it's already been warmed by the likes of Santana, The Who, and more. The 600 person standing rock venue has its green room decorated in vinyl records. It's amazing that they host artists here that actually release vinyl albums. Welcome to Vegas Vinyl. Hard Rock Hotel is located at 4455 Paradise Road. Visit hardrockhotel.com

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Reverend Horton Heat - Let Me Teach You How To Eat

Scott Churilla, Jim Heath (aka the Rev) and 
Jimbo aka Jim Wallace photo by Frankie Tease (Vegas 2012)



Today the Revernd Horton Heat released his new music video leading to the forthcoming album entitled The Rev, to be released January, 2014. It features the Duchess of Chicago, Michelle L'Amour. Oh yeah. Visit reverendhortonheat.com for details and tour dates near you.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Rockit Broadcast Nov. 11, 2013 - National - US - Burlesque, Comedy, Music, Culture News



BURLESQUE, COMEDY, MUSIC, CULTURE
Listen on SOUNDCLOUD.COM

Rockit Broadcast Nov. 11, 2013
Voice Narration: Frankie Tease
Writing: Frankie Tease
Production: Frankie Tease
Music: The Moonlight Howlers


Hey welcome to the Rockit Broadcast for Nov. 11, 2013, I'm Frankie Tease. In Burlesque- Viva Las Vegas opens its submissions for the VLV Burlesque Competition. Victoria Danger and Tom Ingram are back as co-producers of the show, and back to more audience voting in the procedure (according to Tom). The annual festival in Seattle called Burlycon took place Nov. 7-10. Organizer Miss Indigo Blue has long been a go-to burlesque figure in Seattle and works with Jo Weldon (a burlesque author and professor) in New York and other committee members to make this 6th annual event possible. Some may be surprised that it's not a weekend of performances, but of learning and meeting peers and idols. Learn more at burlycon.orgIn Comedy- The Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin Texas just wrapped up. It was a combo of music and comedy, an excellent pairing. My sister said it was a hit in those parts. They even featured hip female comedian Sarah Silverman. Ok. Comedy Central's Up Next talent search semi-finals are in progress. The contest has gone through Chicago, Ft. Lauderdale, Boston and San Francisco and is now ready for your vote to bring it on home. The online voting begins Monday Nov. 11, 2013, so if you have a vote to cast on some new national comedic talent, do it at comedycentral.com and search for "Up Next". The All Jane No Dick comedy fest wrapped in Portland OR. end of Oct., but it's still got a great website to find out about headliner level female comedians. You know we need more of those people, and I mean the good ones please - see alljanenodick.comMusic- has The Rev releasing new music Nov. 11. This week you can hear the single "Let Me Teach You How To Eat" featuring a fully produced video with burlesque starlet and Duchess of Chicago Michelle L'Amour. (I've rarely seen anyone bring down the house with skills and surprises like L'Amour). So I wonder what the album will be like? So many rev fans are in anticipation of his new tracks. With the sarcasm usually involved in the Rev's lyrics, I can only imagine what "Let Me Teach You How To Eat" is about. Dang. Go to reverendhortonheat.com. He's on Victory Records now. Oh, and since we all call him that, he went and named the album "The Rev". It's his 11th album in 25 years of entertaining. On a quick note: Moonlight Howlers put out their album and are heading to Europe for a tour. But not before they got their equipment stolen at a Flagstaff hotel this weekend according to Mother Howler. I just hope whomever stole all their equipment rots in hell. Check Facebook for Moonlight Howlers or Raf Weatherly. Vintage Trouble has a new video out that's sexy as hell. I was watching this thing they posted on their YouTube and had to bite my knuckles. Get on and use search words Vintage Trouble Jezzebella (Official Music Video). There is milk involved. It really does a body good. Culture- The new Bettie Page movie and official narrated documentary by Bettie herself was done by Director Mark Mori out of (NY). The film is now hitting wider release in theaters and you can see if your city if you're ready to hear the story of the most famous pinup girl of all time, in her own voice narration before she died Dec.of 2008, visitbettiepagemovie.com. You can also search its title: Bettie Page Reveals All. Don't miss it in your town, for me it's coming to Vegas soon, yipee. Voting for the People's Choice is in progress now and I think Conan O' Brien is in the running. See who else is getting votes and cast yours at peopleschoice.com. The creator of Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend is casting actors for his new film entitled "Rockabilly: a Cinematic Music-Driven Comedy. Want to be considered ask Tom or navigate your browsers to kickstarter.com and use keyword search rockabilly or Tom Ingram - until Dec. 8, 2013. I can't wait for that film to come out. Impressive Tom, impressive. This week's back track is by the Moonlight Howlers.

Got some burning news about burlesque, comedy, music, or culture? Got a slick back-track for us to feature on the broadcast? Tip us off by email at rockitbroadcast[at]gmail[dot]com. I'm Frankie Tease, see you next time on the Rockit Broadcast.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Frankie Moreno is 'Damn Sure Here to Stay' - Las Vegas Interview and Show Review




Tony Moreno, Frankie Moreno, photo credit: Mark Knopf

This article was originally published in "The Best of Frankie Tease Magazine Vol.2" during 2013, via iTunes, Amazon, Nook.

Frankie Moreno (35) is a Father, brother, and musical star who is becoming a household name in Vegas and around the world. His talent is on showcase four nights a week, one show a night, at the 300 seat remodeled showroom atop the Stratosphere Hotel. The showroom has a lot of booths and feels spacious. The 1148 ft. hotel (9th tallest free standing structure in U.S., tallest in Vegas) has just celebrated with Moreno the show's one year anniversary Nov. 19. The success of the show is a milestone and followed the release of his self-titled album Sept. 19. 2012 is proving to be a big one when you add his spectacular three minute appearance on Dancing with the Stars (ABC) Oct. 9th. Moreno garnered a whole new group of music fans when he performed his own song "Tangerine Honey" combined with "Wild One" along with dancer and choreographer Lacey Schwimmer (who made the introduction of Moreno to producers). To say the least, the man stays busy. But he and his band have been wowing crowds for over a decade in Vegas, this just seems like the next stage of the evolution of an icon.

It was time for me to get an interview with Moreno as rumors swelled in Vegas of his new role as producer of a sexy evening show with a pin-up theme. In fact, it's called "Pin-Up". I had never seen Frankie Moreno live, and after everything was arranged, here is how it all went.

I walked into the stratosphere camera and notepad in hand armed with music-focused questions of this composer, singer, and piano man. I chatted with the bartender who was one of many people I met at the Stratosphere very proud to work for the "Frankie Moreno Live" Show. They were all still excited about working at his show and he'd already been there a year, a pretty great sign.

My contact led me down a hall and into what is one of the darkest rooms I've ever seen. The green room is affectionately known as the black room, adorned with Moreno's favorite trinkets, a wet bar, as well as tons of animal print in the first room. The adjoining room houses his Baldwin grand piano (not baby grand), one of many companies that sponsors Moreno. I sat a minute and then he came in. The tall and slender man shook my hand and offered me a drink as I told him it was "so dark in here I feel like we're on a date". He laughed. I sipped my little plastic shooter of Crown Royal whiskey (not bad!), yet another company that he is sponsored by. I started my questioning with the topic of the new show and went from there.

6:30pm The Interview
Tell us about your new Burlesque Show at the Stratosphere.
It's not really a burlesque show. The new show is called "Pin Up". It's kind of like a 40's theme. If there is burlesque in it, it'll be authentic burlesque, not Las Vegas burlesque. They kind of lost the art of it. It's more of a variety show. It was going in that direction at first, then we said let's go more like some of the "Bob Hope Special". 

FT: Where were you born and raised?
FM: Santa Cruz California. I grew up there and moved out when I was 19, to Nashville.

FT: I've heard a little bit of country occasionally in your music, is that right?
FM: I was doing - I hate to say 50's and 60's rock 'n roll - because I was writing my own music, but it was that vibe, it was very rockabilly, but not rockabilly. Like actual Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, 1950's music.

FT: [I interrupt] Is Jerry Lee Lewis one of your piano heroes?
FM: Yes he was for a long time, I mean, he still is, but I've opened my horizons. Harry Conick Jr. is a fantastic piano player. He got real coined in what he does, but he's actually a phenomenal piano player. He's sick! Where a lot of people... like Elvis Presley, I wouldn't call him a guitar player. I'm a huge Elvis fan. But, he used it kind of like a prop. He played three cords, he's not a guitarist. He was an entertainer. 

FT: How is it playing two instruments and highly developing skills with singing and piano? You are literally spectacular at both.
FM: I play every instrument. [I gasp] I play every single one. I just play a couple on stage. They wanted me to do like - play them all on stage. I said no. It's very Barbara Mandrell-ish. And kind of Wayne Newton does that in his show, and I just didn't want to become the Vegas "look at me, look what I can do." The only reason I'm playing guitar in the show is because certain songs I write on the guitar, and it makes more sense to me on the guitar, the song calls for it. Like I do a song in my show called "Moonlight Matinee". Some songs just call for the acoustic guitar sound, and certain songs call for the piano, you know.

FT: How did you discover your knack for mixing modern ideas with old style sounds of music?  That's a real juxtaposition. 
FM: I guess I've been doing that since nine years old when I started writing music. I just always wanted to write music. I first wrote on piano. Writing music to me has always been - growing up in Santa Cruz - it's all about being creative, and new and different. It's about being creative and unique. My first instincts on life was just to do something no one else had done yet. Even at nine, ten years old when I started writing, I wanted it to sound like Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis. I wanted people who were fans of them to hear my stuff and say "oh that's a new song." There were all these guys coming out with stuff - I don't know if you remember guys like Orien or Mickey Gilley was not a new guy, he's Jerry Lee Lewis' cousin - and he was doing the same thing Jerry Lee Lewis was doing (sings piano pattern) but new songs. So I'm like that's what I want to do, that old sound, but new songs. So, I started doing that. But when people tried to categorize my music, they couldn't because it's not old music 50's 60's, it's new music. 

FT: You also go genre hopping which you're very clever at.
FM: But only because no one knows where to put me. So, I moved to Nashville because I was like well, I guess this is kinda country. So I moved to Nashville and they were like "this is too rock 'n roll" so I moved to Vegas and they're like "we don't have originals here." So I started lying and going "this is by Matchbox 20. This is an old song by Ray Charles you never heard before." No one had any idea, and I did that for a decade. 

FT: What was your favorite haunt before you began your show at the Stratosphere?
FM: I had good times every place I played. I played a long time at this little bar at the Golden Nugget. We would pack it and fill the place up. Here it's different, there's lights and production. I have to kind of stay on a schedule, however - if you watch our show, it's very candid. Everyone is following me. We don't know what's going to happen.

FT: You said that you like to change it up.
FM: I have to. I change it all the time. I am locked in a sense that once we start playing the song, I can't stray from the song too much, like "more solos, more solos" - because the lighting cues - so I'm a little handcuffed in that department. But, as far as the shows, it's very candid. When we used to play in the bars you're talking about, that was just whatever happens. Each night was different. Most the videos from the Golden Nugget were taken in a series of one week. They look like it's been over a longer time. It just happened, it was just in that vibe at the time. We were doing blues and some Bruce Hornsby at that time. I love all types of music, but I grew up on classical, Elvis, Glen Miller. 




FT: You cut your chops in Vegas for ten years, what made you want to stay? Did you realize that the audience was here for you?
FM: I started touring a lot and it became a place where it was nice to have a place where I can come and play regularly, and fill up a room. Because not only will you get locals, you'll get tourists. In Santa Cruz if I play the same room four nights in a row, they're not all going to come. You'll see the show tonight and if you love it, you wouldn't necessarily come back tomorrow. You might come back Friday. [door knocking- a tall man enters] That's my brother Tony.

FT: Hi Tony. Let's talk about your brothers. Is your writing team with your two brothers your secret back-up plan? I mean you have an amazing collaboration going. It has brought us a lot of music.
FM: You know how people make jokes about "you're either a Beatles or an Elvis fan?" We grew up being very much of both. My dad was really into Elvis. I loved Elvis as an entertainer, but Elvis doesn't write songs. I mean he's got his name on a couple, but he didn't really write songs. So, the Beatles really turned me on because of their song writing. So we wanted to do like - "what if Elvis had like a John Lennon Paul McCartney thing going on where they were writing, imagine how big he'd be?" You know what I mean? So we go like, "we're definitely like an Elvis on stage, but let's form our little Beatles within the band." So it's like the Beatles and Elvis together that's what we're going for. And all the Beatles things where they go to India to write and get inspired? We started going to different countries, and just coming up with all kinds of different ideas in different countries. 

FT: I've been to Vienna, Austria, and I heard it's one of your favorite places to write. What's your favorite haunt in Vienna?
FM: You've been? Wow, I love Vienna. The coolest thing for me in Vienna, we like doing the stupid stuff to write music. Like, going to the parks that Beethoven and Mozart went to write in. Au Graten Park. St. Stevens Cathedral, or Stephensplatz.

Tony: The Opera House, of course. 

FM: So this really is one of those inspired places for you? How many times have you been?
FM: I've been to Vienna, I don't know- half a dozen times. But we go and we'll sit in front of that church and late at night one am, we'll bring a guitar, just sit out there and write. We'll go to places like that or Florence (Italy) just to be inspired and write songs.

FT: What is Frankie Moreno Day in Vegas, Sept. 19th all about?
FM: It's the day they named for me in Vegas. It was the date of our album release. 
FT: Oh, when is your birthday?
FM: But my birthday is February 7th, the same day as Babe Ruth and Garth Brooks. I'm an Aquarius. [Someone walks in] That's my brother Ricky. 

FT: The shy one. Can I call you shy Ricky?
Ricky: Yeah I'm very shy, actually [He exits the room - we all laugh].

FT: He's not in the show? 
FM: He's in the show kinda, like silly comedy stuff. The three of us write everything. Even if you know, I get an idea and I write most of it in my head, I still bring it to them. And the same with them. If they get something and it's almost finished, we'll still bring it to the table so all of us can work on it.

FT: Is it my imagination or do you love minor chords?
FM: I love deep lyrics, which usually goes more sad. I just love that. I love being touched by a song. Minor, that's going back to classical roots. Sad is minor. I use a lot of minor. We're really big on lyrics, and I guess that's why we get coined country a lot. Everything is about the lyric and the story and the picture kind of thing. I'm like a humongous Mozart fan. There's no lyrics in those songs. There are melodies. But you can tell what he's talking about through the melodies.

FT: Have you ever been listening to Mozart and thought of an idea for a song?
FM: Almost all my songs. The melody needs to set up what you're trying to say. If the song is called "You Broke My Heart", it's not happy. You put it in a minor key and you make it dark. And then you write your lyric around that. So, if you take the lyrics out of it, the song still makes you feel sad. And if you take the song out of it, the lyric has to work. Everything has to work together. 

FT: So when you listen to classical you can understand what they're saying?
FM: I try. Or at least I imagine what they're saying. But I studied enough to know what they were trying to talk about. Like "this guy's talking about the ocean." 

FT: It sounds like you started writing before you started learning about music. 
FM: For me it's more melodic. Tony is more - we all do equal in everything - But, I would say the strong points are he's more lyrical, and I'm more melodic. Ricky's more melodic. 

FT: Have you done any film scores yet? 
FM: "B" film scores and student films yes. When I was living in Nashville I did a lot of television. I've written full-out symphonies. 

FT: Do you write in traditional manner with charts? 
FM: If it's something that needs that I will. But if it's something where we're just jammin' on the guitar I won't. 

Tony: He'll arrange all the strings and the horns too. 
FM: That's what's cool about this show for me. Everything on that stage, there's ten players, there's crew, all that stuff. The three of us sat down on a beach in Mexico or on the sand in front of a pyramid, or in the snow in front of a snowman and wrote an idea. We took that idea and I think we're different in this respect: as we're writing an idea, we're not just writing a song. I hear the horns and the strings we hear what we want it to be on stage. It's done. By the time we bring it here, I'll sit with the band and I'll write out the horn chart and the string chart. Everything we wrote - when you hear the trumpet hit this note, or the guitar hit this note - everything is from our brain. 
FT: It's got to be satisfying how organic it is.
FM: That's the thing. When we're standing there at the end of the show going "tah dah". If people don't like it, it's okay because I'm givin' it my 100%, and it's real. If I cooked a dinner and it's my favorite thing and you go "I hate this" well... but if I cooked a dinner and you hate it because I used a recipe I've never tried, and this person told me to do this, it's like "I'm sorry it's not what I wanted to do".  No. This is what I've got.

Myself, and Frankie Moreno and cast at pre-show rehearsal.
photo credit: Frankie Tease





FT: It sounds like your inspiration for writing songs comes from all different places.
FM: The inspiration truly comes from either life things that have happened, or stuff from people that we know around us. Or what we like to do a lot too is flip flop. If we just heard a story from a friend who's girlfriend just left him, we'll flip flop that story, and make it a happy story. When you see what we do, we've changed our show recently, so it's a lot different. What we're doing in the show now, it sounds very modern, but it has that feel like if you were watching a show 1965, Bobby Darren. It's kind of a journey.

Tony: It's a party.

FT: Did you really get a gift from Dancing with the Stars of a piano? What's the story on that, and why did you want this particular piano?
FM: Well I kind of went in on it with them. It's a long story. It's looks like it's marble. You'll see. This piano in here (in the Black Room) was given to me as a gift from Baldwin. 

FT: Are they all baby grands? 
FM: They are full grands. They're grands.

FT: Oh, you don't mess with the baby grands, I see. 
FM: I have a Yamaha Grand at home, I have Baldwin Grand, this one is custom. I have about a half-dozen pianos. 

FT: You have a no walls show. You have complete support and a commitment from the venue, and I saw your Vegas Video Network "Talk Tales" interview with Chris back in 2011. Was your family friend Peggy Armstrong helpful in getting this deal? How did it take place.
FM: She just did stuff like helping with some of the instruments we needed for the show and stuff like that. Yeah, no one is doing that anymore [fully sponsoring artists]. When I came here I had already toured with some big names. I had already done a lot of stuff. In town all I was doing was lounges. But I was doing world-tours with Sting. I had written a lot of songs. I wrote a hit song - Number Seven - for Air Supply that basically paid my bills. It sold thousands and thousands of albums. Financially I was fine. So that's why when I came in here I was like "this is a gamble for me too". It's a gamble for the Stratosphere because no one has heard of this guy, and he's doing new original music. It just made no sense.

FT: And you hadn't released your album yet when you were signed.
FM: Right. I just released my album (Sept. 2012) and then did Dancing with the Stars and [makes an explosion sound]. We're half way to gold already. We're trying to make it about music. If you're going to go on stage, do something we haven't seen, yet familiar. You're going to look at my show and you'll be reminded of 50 different people. But yet, it's different. 

FT: You've obviously grown into the persona that you are now, it took a minute.
FM: Yeah, we'd been doing exactly what I'm doing for years. But when you're in a lounge, people just give it a different thing. You know what I mean. I was wearing this and playing a lounge [points to his pre-show jeans]. I started working with Sony records, and they said "start wearing suits". So, for a year before I came here I started wearing a suit, and putting the band in suits. We were like, this is working out. And then we were at the Palms and they [from Stratosphere] came and saw us doing exactly this show. This show's a lot better here because of the lighting, and the production. We have a production value to it. It's funny because it took someone going "yeah I believe in this".

FT: Which is rare these days, but then again is talent more rare these days? 
FM: I don't know if talent is rare. I don't think people work as hard for it as much as they used to, because you don't need to now. It's image and what you're wearing. I do all the stuff you're supposed to do to be popular I guess, you know, but I don't care about any of that. I do it because I love music. Whether the Stratosphere gave me a deal, or I'm sitting at home playing my grand piano. I'm still gonna play music. I just love it. It's about my songs. 

As we concluded the 15 minute interview (turned 25 min.) Moreno sat at the piano to play a few licks while I took photos. He starts with "Chopstix" and then rolls into some lightening quick ragtime music. I thought about how strong those hands must be. There is no one that could be happier than this piano man when he's playing, and very few are as charming or handsome to boot. I ask for a set-list. I was escorted to the showroom to watch the sound-check. As I got the set list, all three Moreno Brothers (Frankie, Tony, Ricky) had signed it. They sure know how to treat the press. After sound check Moreno invited me to stay for the after-party where there'd be a lot of drinking. A theme that seems to run through the Moreno society.


8:00 pm The Show
As the show room fills up for Thanksgiving Eve 2012, I watch the Frankie Moreno videos up on the screen about the brothers, jokes of Tony and Frankie tweeting each other and other such media. I checked my set list and tried to contain my excitement because the opening number listed was "Jungle Book". This was one of my all time favorite swing songs I'd danced to in Hollywood for years. Meanwhile as seats filled, I caught a photo of four V.I.P's sitting in the center most booth. It just happened to be Ricky Moreno, Daddy Moreno, Mother Moreno and journalist John Katsilometes. Later I found out that  the Moreno parents attend every show from this booth. It's a family affair, and they get the best seat in the house. Why not? They made the guy.

Ricky Moreno, Daddy Moreno, Mother Moreno, Johnny Kats
Photo credit: Frankie Tease

The lights dim, applause rings out, and the big band becomes visible on the spaciously large modern stage. Two violins and a cellist, a guitar player, three horns, a drummer, and Tony Moreno on electric bass fill the stage. A spotlight follows Frankie Moreno stepping in from stage right to the center mic to a steady bass-beat drum. "I'm the king of swingin', I'm a jungle V.I.P. ... Ooo be doo I want to be like you, I wanna walk like you, talk like you do" mixes with a light show and sexy Elvis moves to jump-start this crowd. The dark-haired baritone wastes no time with his opening number showing us what we're in for. Two verses in, a waitress comes in stage left and sets a tray with shots on the piano. Nothing but the drum accompanies Moreno passing out shots to the band. The drummer plays on until coaxed to just stop and take his medicine. The crowd applauds the momentary silence as the drummer does his Crown Royal whiskey shot and Moreno asks us "you ready for a great show? Happy Thanksgiving Eve". The song resumes into an interlude of "Sing Sing Sing" - another great choice with this skilled band - while Moreno delves into the piano situated center stage. His tinkering becomes chops with sides of hand, as he digs into illustrating the piano skills he's famous for. Here is an opening number I won't ever forget.

Another swingin' number scored by the Moreno Brothers is next called "Tangerine Honey". This is one of those songs that really will stick with you. Piano and vocals mix with the big band producing a rich complex musical atmosphere as the horns swell and Frankie's hips gyrate to "she can really put the spice in the night, she can show you how wrong can be right". We continue to be seduced by the piano opening the next original number alone slowly joined by gorgeous horns and strings. "I'm Sorry" (conceptually the only thing a woman wants to hear from her man) brings luscious tones in a song that's both a lament and ray of hope for a very personal relationship. Gorgeous solos from lead violinist Jennifer Lynn make it so delectable I forget about the first two songs (temporarily).  

Massive lighting changes keep the power-punch going with the dark and mysterious  "Black Mascara". A song that packs a modern punch with lyrics like  the "blowing off the radar- freaky like a porn star", the band was rockin' that house with a massive sound. The idea that this is an original composition is something important. As this modern artist carries on the tradition of great music with such precision adding his own new style, hope springs eternal. We are spared from the adrenaline high for a minute and lead next to a quiet and classic cover in "Daydream". A piano and guitar strum meets a gasp of familiarity from the crowd at the first few notes - it's that popular. "What a day for a daydream, what a day for a day-dreamin' boy, and I'm lost in a daydream, dreamin' bout my bundle of joy" Moreno croons while tinkling the ivories. This is what the term crowd-pleaser is all about.

Frankie Moreno and show cast, photo credit: Frankie Tease

Pretty soon Moreno says "Dino"! and an aging bald man in stagehand black comes out with a tray and a bottle of Crown Royal. A welcome Rat Pack tribute, Moreno starts with a shot and asks the audience (to my shock), "Who wants a refill? You gotta bring your own glass though." A half a dozen people rush the stage and one lucky fan gets to keep the bottle once its emptied. You have to admit, entertainers rarely pour the audience a drink, how fun. We are led into another recognizable hit cover "Bridge Over Troubled Water" handled masterfully by the horns and string sections. A little video break comes on to tell us how the songs are conceived showing the three brothers in a gondola in Florence Italy. Next, to our surprise Moreno is in the audience as the song opens with him strumming on the acoustic guitar for "Moonlight Matinee". "You're lookin' Hollywood how can I look away? A starlet attitude in everything that you don't say" he sings and soon heads for the stage. Catching me and my camera off-guard, Moreno turns to me and says "how do you like the show so far"? Before thinking I yell over the music "I love you" and then turned bright red as I thought "I mean I love your music." The band joins in to move into a very upbeat number "I Think About You", showing some of those Nashville roots with wonderful vocal highs and lows.

We're met with another video about the song's conception before "Missin You" commences. The number features luscious muted trumpet by Chandler Judkins, among other treats. It's time for some swing again, my favorite. An amazing rendition to stir my heart of "Birth of the Blues" rings out. Wow. New Orleans is in the house as the horn section joined by third brother in the Moreno team, and writer Ricky Moreno, stroll through the crowd surrounding us by a massive sound. I'm delighted and soaking up the jazz touch.

Just as we're recovering from all the excitement, we get an absolutely stirring rendition of "Elanor Rigby" as Moreno displays his roots in and love of the Beatles. Lindsey Springer masterfully executes the cello and Moreno carefully navigates the piano on this complicated world-class story that took on new meaning for me after hearing it live with Moreno. Rich and magnificent, this version lingers with me today. The closing number is about to eclipse the opener as mighty band leader Moreno saddles into "Wild One" bringing the audience to its feet. A one-man piano circus ensues and it's an eyeful. Moreno proceeds to do poses I never thought possible while playing piano including standing on the piano and laying upside down while he plays. At the same time he never misses a note. He's totally done this before. The ovation is thunderous and like many, I thought about how and when I'd return to the show, and who I must bring.

Frankie Moreno, photo credit: Frankie Tease

The Afterparty
Frankie jumps off stage exiting the showroom quickly to mingle with exited show goers, take photos with fans, and offer Moreno merchandise and autographs. Several people begin to hang out in the lobby in anticipation of the after-invite. We stand and chat loudly. Energy still on high, we are led down a long hollow Stratosphere corridor to the atmospheric black room. Members of the band, select fans, and Johnny Kats form the after-party set to loud hip-hop music. Crown Royal drinks are poured and mingling is in full swing. I also get to see the guitar that Moreno loves up-close. It has a scenic airbrush of Salzburg Austria on the face of its blonde wood. Gorgeous. There is a fan who tells me how jealous of me he was because I got to take pictures during the show. Several band members and returning guests invited directly by Frankie post-show fill the room. Some Vegas locals tell me stories of how many times they've been to the show. As things finally wind down, we all make our exits and I am gifted with a Moreno CD, and other gorgeous keepsakes. As I leave the Stratosphere backstage, I am riding on a Moreno high. What's that? Well it's something that this story won't do justice to, and you have to experience in this lifetime. I'm just sayin'. Like Moreno says to conclude his rendition of "Wild One" "My name is Frankie Moreno and I'm damn sure here to stay".

Frankie Moreno Backstage, photo credit: Frankie Tease


The Album Review
After seeing the Frankie Moreno Live show at the Stratosphere Thanksgiving Eve, I became a new fan of the man and the band. A writer, a thinker, a ridiculously intuitive entertainer, and someone that can give you the chills many times in one night from sheer talent, I buckled into the task of reviewing his first self-titled album. No pressure. The album is a completely different experience and feeling than seeing the band live. The album also totally captures the feeling of the band live. Let me explain.

The live show is a mix of massive musical hits that are highly recognizable to the audience (swing, blues, rock) and the original music that the Moreno Brothers compose while abroad every year. The originals in the show are stand-outs for those of us who thrive on new music. The album is nothing but pure Moreno goodness with piano and vocal front-man Frankie Moreno displaying the skills of his musical depth, which have no limits. What I found is that there were three different albums within this album. Here they are.

I began listening to the 11 song album of originals in the car on the way home from the show. Still buzzing from the experience, I immediately wanted to section off certain songs to keep the high upbeat energy of the Frankie Moreno Live Show going. Songs I'd heard live I wanted to hear first. My after-show playlist from the album would be tracks five, six, and 10... I'd just heard these live and in that order on the playlist (among the rest of the show's set). "I'm Sorry", "Black Mascara", and "Tangerine Honey" are the most dramatic songs, most vintage arrangements musically, and they conjured great memories of times dancing - they stood out. More about those in a minute.

Every single song on the album brings the quality of Frankie Moreno's gorgeous addictive baritone vocal talent, with clever meaningful lyrics that explore various states of being in love, (or lust) and the journey of life. Every song articulates what we cannot, with great style. This combined with addictive rhythms and melodies, a skilled back-up band, and originality, yet familiarity, makes for an album that Frankie told me was "half way to gold" after his appearance on Dancing with the Stars in October, 2012. It's no surprise.

The Album's Core, Tracks: 1,2,3,4,7
Album opener "A Million Roads" is a song that could be heard on any radio anywhere in America, anytime U.S.A. A great travelling sing-a-long about the journey of life. Lovely voice dips (almost yodeling at times) and a wide vocal range between highs and lows reminded me of another great favorite of mine, Chris Isaak. Then classic stuff like "Moonlight Matinee" carefully paints a picture of cherished late-nights in young love we have all experienced. The rambling guitar and piano parts on "Story" mixed with those tender vocals and delectable, catchy lyrics like "this is a story of forever, the time that I want us to be together" would make anyone sigh. Piano-intro-ed, and waltz-timed "Beautiful" quickly conjures a Beatleesque quality, then launches into a full melodic chorus with "b-b-baby, just keep on doin' what you do, 'cause it makes me feel beautiful too", so Elvis. Loved that. "Missin' You" hearkens to a love lost and the valid sentimentality that comes with the clarity of hindsight, and the hope that it's not over. Lovely guitar and horns are featured.

The Album's Break-Up Songs, Tracks: 8, 9,11
Some of the Capitol Years of Sinatra brought us whole albums of break-up songs like Only the Lonely. "Gotta Move On" is on the 'album within album' of stellar break-up songs, as well as "Just a Memory". A candid love song with gorgeous delicate piano and drums, with a little hint of country ballad in its style as in "with each word we slip farther away". Again helping define those moments we can't deny take place in the process of love, Just A Memory has some very Beatlesque guitar licks that were tantalizing. "Never Mine" offers classic piano and lyrics like: "chasing sunlight 'cross the cold and lonely sky". The song rings out with gorgeous cello and violin parts elevating it higher and higher as it escalates to "there's nothin' left to say". Just gorgeous stuff, which made me long to hear it live. 

The Blockbusters, My favorites: Tracks: 5,6,10
"I'm Sorry" showcases the piano man, and ads a rock vibe and big band horns to create a rich atmosphere which wrangled me in immediately. "How can anyone fight on a night like tonight?" sets the scene, and we journey to I'm Sorry with every luscious note from the backing band. If a rainbow had sound, this may be the audio for the visual. Half-way through the live show I was loving the song: "Black Mascara", said to be written on an Egypt trip. This song hearkens to an amazing Jazz classic called Caravan. The beckoning words, the minor key, and the progression to a major key in the chorus have the same style but with a completely contemporary modern feel. This is the new Caravan for me, thanks Moreno Brothers (Caravan was composed by Jaun Tizol and first played by Duke Ellington '36). Horns and chunky guitar stirred with violin and cello accents sound like a journey into the unknown, and then burst into "gotta find a way to make 'ya love me, love me." It's bold and stupendous in style. It's hot.

But can he swing? The man can swing. The band can swing. They wrote my favorite song "Tangerine Honey" while in Paris looking at the Eiffel Tower on a Moreno Brothers writing trip. The building was glowing a bright orange which spawned the name and led to a story of a lusciously desirable woman who "can really put the spice in the night - she can show you how a wrong can be right." With all the sophistication and panache of Brian Setzer or Cab Calloway, and all the sexual tension of Elvis, Moreno then adds the piano superiority and precision of Harry Connick Jr., and the tricks of Jerry Lee Lewis. Moreno powers through the big band arrangement with timeless lyrics, spectacular muted trumpet backings and swelling swinging horns which make Tangerine Honey something you'll never tire of. But nothing beats seeing this performance live. Swaggering musical talent Frankie Moreno is taking over the strip, and next: the world. It's time to meet the new Vegas Royalty, if you haven't already.



"Frankie Moreno" 
(2012) Bermuda Records
via iTunes via CDBaby
Score: ***** (5 OF 5 STARS)
Highly Recommended by Frankie Tease Magazine