Thursday, May 10, 2012
“I started fooling around with the concept of a one-man band with a lot of different instruments,” Al Frisby says. “I wanted to do something that was different from the lounge guitar act or jazz band or folk singer.”
As a working musician – who usually performs about four or five nights a week – the Louisiana native realized several years back that he had to offer something unique if he wanted to stand out in Santa Cruz’s competitive music scene. So Frisby, who can play more than 20 instruments, offers his audiences everything from George Gershwin’s “Summertime” on the musical saw to an acoustic Hawaiian lap guitar improvisation.
The first instrument Frisby learned how to play was more conventional than the artillery he currently travels with.
“My parents were big Louis Armstrong fans, so the trumpet was the first thing they stuck in my hands,” he says. “When you’re coming from the Ninth Ward in New Orleans and you hear a trumpet, you better be really good at [it]. Trumpet players were a dime a dozen in my neighborhood.”
After Frisby came to the conclusion that he’d never compete with the stellar array of musicians in the Big Easy, he put down the trumpet and tackled just about every other apparatus out there. But before he was doing the one-man band thing, he had a show that integrated comedy – think Spike Jones meets the bastard child of Tenacious D. Some of his most popular satirical jaunts include “Hitler was a Veggie,” “Valiums and Donahue” and “Deadheads on Bad Paper Acid.”
Later this month, Frisby will celebrate 20 years as a professional musician with the release of a retrospective CD and a release party at Don Quixote’s in Felton on Monday, May 21. On Friday, May 11, when the multi-instrumentalist performs at the Pierce Ranch Tasting Room, he says he’ll be armed with about seven instruments including a dobro, mandolin and a Cuban tres (a six-string chordophone).
Frisby may not be churning out stuff that trumps his New Orleans peers like Mac Rebanac and Clifton Chenier, but there’s a good chance those cats don’t know how to play the Turkish Saz.
AL FRISBY AND HIS ONE-MAN BAND perform at 8:30pm Friday, May 11, at Pierce Ranch Tasting Room, 499 Wave St., Monterey. Free. 372-8900.