The Kingston resident and well-known musician will debut his latest music project during a concert and album release party tomorrow night at the Whitehall Athletic Club.
The Frandino Ruggers is an ambitious studio project led by Frandino and features contributions from nearly two dozen area musicians.
The album, titled “Return,” is the end-result of nearly two years of studio recording and two decades of song writing.
Although music has always been part of Frandino’s life—he’s played in several local bands, including the Skenesborough Renegades and sings over the intercom in his job as a principal at Hyde Park Central Elementary School–the idea of a collaborative project featuring multiple musicians is something Frandino had been dreaming of for more than a decade.
Bringing together so many performers on a single album, however, proved to be a logistical nightmare and prevented the project from ever getting off the ground.
“It’s something I had talked about doing since the early 2000s, but I just didn’t know how to get it done,” Frandino said.
At least that was the case until two years ago when Frandino attended a back-yard barbecue, an unlikely place to lay the groundwork for a unique musical endeavor, but a moment that proved to be serendipitous nonetheless.
Frandino was performing at the barbecue when he was introduced to the event’s host, Ken Lytle. The two immediately struck up a conversation and Lytle invited Frandino to tour the music studio (Red Room Recording Studio) he was building. That’s when the two music aficionados began discussing the idea of the Ruggers and decided to make a go of it.
“The logistics of recording with friends from the area while living in Kingston, without a northern home-base to record, prevented the idea from moving forward,” Frandino said. “Ken’s fledgling studio efforts proved to be the solution for this obstacle.”
For two or three days a month for the next year-and-a-half, Frandino made the drive from Kingston to the Queensbury-based recording studio.
He would record a “guide track” and then other musicians would add their voice or instrumentals to that track.
“We encouraged everyone to create their own parts. We provided some guidance about what we were hoping to get but we didn’t get too specific. Most of the time it was ‘yeah, yeah do more of that.’ Everyone kind of put their own little twist on it,” Frandino said.
Angus Wilson, a local musician, was given the task of “mastering” the album, or blending together all the different parts into a single high-quality, industry standard recording.
Frandino estimates the project took approximately 50 different sessions and untold hours engineering the record.
The album touches on a wide range of genres
“It’s difficult to peg, there’s so much diversity in the songs. It’s kind of like the (Beatles) White Album; there are country songs, some heavier songs and some bubblegum pop,” Frandino said.
Many of the songs contain references to Whitehall. The first track, “Martucci,” is an ode to former Whitehall barber Joe Martucci, and the lyrics to “Dreaming Free,” one of Frandino’s favorite tracks on the record, are a rapid succession of memories and moments from Whitehall’s past: “Randy St. Claire made the show, Bigfoot reported by the Po-Po, Minor brought the big to the Superbowl, Twyman hoops and the Turkey Bowl, way before Dicky met Anastasio.”
Even the name of the project, the Frandino Ruggers, is a reference to Whitehall’s past.
The Frandino Ruggers were a semi-pro basketball organized by Frandino’s father, Vince, who operated a flooring business in Whitehall.
“I wasn’t even born at the time but I remembering coming across old trophies and hearing stories about the team. I felt it was similar to what I’m doing; pulling together all these different people for the record. It’s like my own basketball team,” he said.
“The name of the album is Return. It’s about memories of your hometown and I’m telling people to return, recall their younger years. There are references to Whitehall, but they are general enough that people from a similar upbringing can connect.”
Among the local artists with Whitehall ties who contributed to the project are Mike Plude, Alex Hyatt, Kathi Brooks, Dan Lafayette, Paul Rounds, Aaron Boule, Carl Aiken, Zack Plude and Bill Jones.
Other well known musicians included Phil Camp, Todd Haviland, Bob Smith, Garrett Beaty, Margaret LaBombard, Michelle Howland, Mark Orlosky, Matt D’Ambrosio, Steve Pearl, Johnny Clifford and Ted Marcus, who at one time performed with The Meat Puppets, a band that influenced the grunge movement of the late 80s and early 90s.
Frandino said he’s not hoping for any commercial or critical success from the album and just hopes people enjoy and connect to it.
“It feels satisfying to have completed it. For two years it was just hanging there waiting for me like an un-mowed lawn. It feels good to get the songs out there and to take a deep breath,” he said. “We are very proud of our work and the learning that came out of it.”
Friday’s show will feature performances from some of the artists who contributed to the project as well as Brown Dirt Mafia, a band consisting of Frandino, Hyatt and Plude. The group will release its debut record, “Chicago Typewriter.” Brittany Fiorino, a Greenwich-based singer-songwriter, will open the show.
Doors will open at 7 p.m. and the show will begin at 8 p.m. Admission costs $5 and copies of “Return” and “Chicago Typewriter” will be available for purchase.