Andy Frasco doesn’t need to bullshit his way into Moody’s Bistro anymore.
The performer told Moody’s owner JJ Morgan he was an agent named Drew Mitchell who represented Frasco, a young, talented, entertaining musician. Everything but the agent’s name was true.
Seven years later, Frasco said he’s played at 2,000 venues in five countries and 40 of the United States. And he’s slept on 600 couches.
Frasco has a record deal now and soon will tour Europe for the second time this year. But he won’t ever be too big to return to Morgan’s intimate jazz bistro in Truckee. His band, the U.N., is Ernie “the Wiz” Chang on saxophone and Shawn Eckels on guitar.
“JJ is the first guy who ever booked me seven years ago,” Frasco said. “I cold called him. I faked my name.”
Morgan verified the story.
“He owned up to it a couple of days later,” Morgan said. “He has a stage persona, an act. But he’s a hard-working, sharp guy. He’s on it. He’s like my little brother.”
Frasco took a singular path to the bandstand. He was a band manager, worked for some record labels and took classes at San Francisco State University.
“All these bands would break up,” Frasco told Tahoe Onstage. “I said screw it I am just going to micro market my own band and learn how to play an instrument.
“I had a piano at my house. My mom always bitched at me about learning how to play it but I never did. I just got real lazy. Then I saw a band play that I fell in love with (Damien Rice). At 19 I quit school, bought a van, hired a band on Craigslist said I am gonna call 1,000 venues and see how many shows I could get.”
While Frasco had an affection for Damian Rice’s band, Buddy Guy was his inspiration as an entertainer.
“It was his smile,” Frasco said. “I didn’t want to be a recording artist. I just wanted to be a live show performer. It’s party blues. Try to get people to live in the moment, put down the cell phone and live for a little bit. The crowd is just as important to our set as the songs are.”
Frasco’s experience as a band manager helped him build a fan base. He invites local musicians to jam at his impromptu shows which never include a set list. He returns to venues where his performances resonate with the audience, and the local musicians spread the word and bring more friends at each appearance.
“It’s super tiring and my body sometimes gives up on me,” Frasco said. “But it keeps the fire in my stomach. A lot of people look up to me. I’m 26 and I have 11 people on my payroll. People are relying on me to get them where they need to be. I don’t want to let anyone down.”
In summer 2014, Frasco released an album, “Half A Man,” produced by Charles Goodan (a Grammy winner for Santana’s “Supernatural”). He also hosted the Wakarusa in Arkansas Ozark Mountains. When he introduced BASSNECTAR, he said he angered the artist when joked about his laptop being in tune.
“Buddy Guy plays what he wants and that’s the same philosophy I want to have,” Frasco said. “Just because DJs are popular right now, we don’t need to be a DJ band. Let’s stick to our roots and stick to our guns. It works for all these timeless musicians like Buddy Guy, Van Morrison and the Rolling Stones. They didn’t try to change for anybody. That’s what I’m trying to teach people.”
And Frasco’s teacher?
“JJ is one of my mentors,” Frasco said. “Every chance I get I play at his place so he can teach me another thing about life. I call him my Buddha.”
Andy Frasco and the U.N.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14
Where: Moody’s Bistro, Truckee