Artist Spotlight: Andy Frasco The U.N.
Where to begin this? Should it begin as a love story? How about a horror story? A Fairytale? A Mystery? Fuck it! Let’s go all Non-Fiction as I tell you, the story of JBP and Andy “Sweet Dick” Frasco and his Dionysian Mystery Cult.
I can still vividly recall the first time I saw Andy Frasco come onstage during Jam Cruise like some fevered dream that comes in waves. I can envision him in pink boxing trunks and pink boxing gloves; his Afro was glorious but obstructed by a gauze bandage. I sat next to the guitarist for The New Master Sounds; we both looked at each other. Mouths agape, awestruck as Andy Frasco performed the wildest show I have ever seen in my life. The list of antics goes on but: crowd-surfing across the entire theatre, taking numerous illicit substances (or was he?) including but not limited too, mushrooms and even a dab from the audience, and all this with a head injury. Even with a bandage on his head, Frasco was still play fighting with his band mates and causing all around destruction onstage. I have been writing and covering shows for over three years now. I have worked with bands like, String Cheese and Widespread Panic but never have I ever seen anything like, Andy Frasco. As my friend, Vince Herman from Leftover Salmon said to me after performing with Andy on Jam Cruise, “He is the biggest thing right now...maybe ever,” his eyes getting larger and his smile growing with them. I have to agree with Vince but I have to start from the beginning and how I found out about Andy Frasco and his World Saving Podcast.
I had only vaguely heard of Andy Frasco musically but his podcast was picking up some major traction in the scene. I gave it a quick listen and was immediately impressed with not only the quality of the podcast but the pure honesty and candor with each guest. From Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, Marcus King, Mike Dillion to Ivan Neville, the World Saving Podcast is diverse, fun and at times, heart-wrenching. This was my beginning with Andy Frasco but certainly not the end. I then checked out his studio recordings and found his song catalogue catchy and fun, perhaps more Pop-Singer/Songwriter oriented but still entertaining. I immediately put Andy Frasco on my list of up-and-coming artist to see and review. It was almost a year before I had the chance to see him aboard Jam Cruise and honestly had no idea what I was in for. As I stated before, I have never seen a live performance so raw, uncut and honest. I didn’t think Andy and his band could top those Jam Cruise sets. With the various sit-ins and collaborations, I wasn’t sure and he could keep up this shtick but to my complete surprise, Andy Frasco And The U.N. completely demolished Roanoke Virginia in March for St Paddy’s day.
I know, I’m just getting to this review but I needed to take a break after traveling to Egypt and Europe for almost a month. I also wanted to devote my full attention to this review and Artist Spotlight. I headed down to Roanoke to Martin’s Downtown where an outdoor parking lot stage was set up. It was still a bit brisk out and the drinks were definitely present from the moment I stepped into the area. Andy Frasco’s nervously paced backstage perhaps aware of the police presence in attendance. That didn’t seem to stop Frasco And The U.N. from playing one of the most raw and rambunctious sets of live music I’ve ever seen. “Here’s to drinking in parking lots,” Andy exclaimed, as he poured a bottle of Jamison whiskey down his throat, waiting for the mushrooms to kick in. While seeing the show again, the obvious shticks are there from: the ketamine story to the switching of instruments but I don’t give a flying fuck, looking at Andy’s happy face smiling from ear-to-ear as he plays says it all. This man is truly happy when he’s performing and it’s obvious.
While the only song his mother likes is “Waiting Game” I find many of his songs catchy, toe tapping and thought provoking. While the album versions don’t have the same ass as live performances, they are well produced and easy on the ears. I can still visualize Andy, his pants pulled up, making a moose knuckle while explaining his shortcomings in the penile region. I haven’t laughed and danced so hard in my life. Goddammit Andy you’ve done it again! I drove three hours back home listening to the World Saving Podcast the entire way. It all worth it even having to deal with the drunken asshole that keeping falling into me and who began throwing ice at Andy Frasco onstage.
Andy Frasco And The U.N. are the real fucking deal; a no holds barred, orgy of musical chaos. There is nothing like it. It is perhaps the closest thing to the WWE or professional wrestling within the musical world. The gross display of complete negligence while still remaining coherent is remarkable. I’m left wondering, “Can this last forever?” I have to answer, “I sure as hell hope so!” Frasco is the shining light, the Dionysus, the one promised to enlighten us all. Being a fan of Andy Frasco is like joining some Dionysian Mystery Cult. Watching and listening to Frasco grow and be reborn again is only half the fun. This is either the greatest media ploy in existence or the realist shit out there. You decide.
As for me, I will be seeing Andy Frasco whenever and however I can. Avidly consuming his music and the World Saving Podcast on my summer adventures, covering festivals, concerts and beyond. I shall always take my memory of Frasco and guitarist, Shawn “Wildman” Eckels with me, replaying the chaotic antics of these musical lunatics. I also got to catch Frasco in New Orleans during Jazzfest at numerous venues. That review will be coming shortly. Thank you all for holding out for this Artist Spotlight and more is coming at www.jambandpurist.com soon.
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.