Andy Frasco & The U.N.
w/ Wild Adriatic
Wednesday, March 20, 2019 @ Nectar's
Bar & Restaurant: 5:00pm
18+ $10 ADV // $10 DOS // 21+ $10 ADV // $10 DOS
Averaging 250 shows per year, 10 countries, at least 10,000 hours playing music, countless satisfied fans, and about 1 million beers kicked, the past decade has been nothing short of an odyssey for Andy Frasco & The U.N.
In 2016, this wild musical journey culminated with a three-hour headlining set in front of 15,000 people at Jazz & Blues Festival in Bamberg, Germany. The evening marked a handful of firsts. It would be the first time the band performed its entire catalog during one show, and it would be recorded for their first-ever live CD/DVD—2017’s Songs from the Road: Live in Bamberg. In many ways, Andy had been working towards this evening since he quit his record label job at 19, bought a van with his remaining Bar Mitzvah money, hit the road, and never looked back…
“I always wanted to do a live album,” he exclaims. “I didn’t want to play some cliché venue though. When I started booking shows for the band in Europe, Bamberg was actually the first place that threw us a bone. We decided to take over this town, throw a block party, showcase everything we’ve done, and see if anyone shows up. All of a sudden, the whole town is there. In this last decade, I’ve played every dive bar you can imagine. It was like we finally manifested all of the dreams I’ve had for my entire life.”
Songs from the Road captures the magic inherent in an Andy Frasco show. Throughout the set, the chemistry between the musicians and sonic unpredictability power every second. Among many standouts, the group slowed down “Main Squeeze” from 2014’s Half A Man into a sultry and seductive “Soul Version” highlighted by Andy’s bluesy delivery, hulking keys, and a virtuoso saxophone solo.
“That was the first song I ever wrote as a kid,” he recalls. “It started as a slow ballad, but we sped it up over the years for festivals. We went back to the original incarnation here.”
Elsewhere, the group locks into a show-stopping 20-minute jam during “Struggle” spiraling into drum and guitar battles. Meanwhile, “Smoking Dope n Rock n Roll” and “Stop Fucking Around” incite raucous and rowdy singalongs between crowd surfing to a barrel of wine—you have to see it to believe it. These moments hint at something much bigger for Andy though.
“It made me like I’m not just an entertainer, but I’m becoming a musician,” he admits. “To see all of these Germans who barely speak English singing my songs made me feel like I’m doing something bigger than me. I tell everyone, ‘Whatever’s going on in your life, don’t worry about it. I don’t care how broke or tired you are, let’s just come together and celebrate life.’ If we can get the audience out of their heads for two or three hours, we’ve done our job to make this world happier.”
Stirring up a simmering stew of soul, funk, rock, roots, Americana, and blues, Andy continues to musically intoxicate listeners worldwide. Releasing five independent full-length albums to date, the boys have shared the stage with everyone from Leon Russell, Dr. Dog, Joe Walsh, and Gary Clark, Jr. to Snoop Dog, Galactic, Pepper, Foreigner and more. A festival favorite, they’ve ignited Firefly, SXSW, Wakarusa, Electric Forest, Backwoods Music Festival, Phases of the Moon, and beyond. Along the way, they earned acclaim from Relix, Pollstar, Live for Live Music, SoundFuse, and others in between cracking 2 million cumulative Spotify streams.
As they begin recording album number six with producer David Schools of Widespread Panic, Songs from the Road confidently opens up the next chapter of Andy Frasco & The U.N.
“At the end of the day, I want people to know we’re a band that can entertain, but we write good songs,” he leaves off. “We have fun, but we take this super seriously. We’ve dedicated our lives to this. This is my life destiny to make everyone feel good. That’s my job on this planet for the next thirty or one-hundred years that I’m alive. It’s what I plan on doing.”
Rooted in the rowdy spirit of rock & roll, Wild Adriatic has built an international audience on a combination of groove, grit, and guitar-heavy swagger.
With the power trio’s newest album, Feel, bandmates Travis Gray, Rich Derbyshire, and Mateo Vosganian update the sound of their influences — from Seventies rock to Motown to soul — for a contemporary audience, taking influence from the past but never losing sight of the present. They aren’t revivalists; they’re modern men, carrying the torch of melodic, riff-ready, high-energy rock into new territory.
Whittled into sharp shape by a touring schedule that’s kept them busy for roughly 175 days a year — including two European tours, countless stateside runs, and appearances at festivals like Bonnaroo — Wild Adriatic’s three members recorded Feel in Austin, teaming up with Grammy-nominated producer Frenchie Smith in the process. The goal was to shine a light on the band’s strength as a live act, avoiding click tracks, digital instruments, sampled sounds, and other tricks of the recording studio. Instead, Wild Adriatic focused on the same core ingredients — Gray’s guitar playing and soulful sweep of a voice; Vosganian’s percussive stomp; Derbyshire’s in-the-pocket bass — that helped kickstart the band in 2011, back when Wild Adriatic formed in Upstate New York.
From the psychedelic “Chasing a Ghost” to the mellow, horn-filled “Come Baby Baby” — the latter song featuring blasts of brass from the West End Horns — Feel offers up 11 new songs of modern, analog, groove-heavy rock, with Wild Adriatic taking inspiration from breakups, friendships, new relationships, tour stops, and even politics. “Appleton” finds the guys paying tribute to the Wisconsin town that’s hosted some of their most most memorable shows, while songs like “Some Nerve” and “Hurricane Woman” channel the influence of guitar greats like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Joe Walsh. Much of the album came together during five separate writing retreats, including treks to Virginia, Texas and Wisconsin. Throughout it all, the songs were written collaboratively, molded by a band of longtime friends who, more than a half-decade into their career, are still turning over new leaves.
“This feels like our first record all over again,” says Vosganian, a childhood friend of Gray since his elementary-school days. “We’re a rock and roll band at heart, but we have heavy ties to soul and blues music, too, and as the band matures, those roots come out. This is a great way to reintroduce ourselves.”
Gray agrees, saying that the real-life inspiration behind most of the album — a painful breakup — helped Wild Adriatic create a record that ultimately celebrates the electricity and elation of playing in a traveling band.
“These songs align with everything we’ve gone through in the last year,” he adds. “They highlight hard times, but also underlying hope and optimism. We’re people. We’re supported by fans who buy tickets and come out to shows, and we like to hang out with them. We aren’t trying to take ourselves too seriously. We’re trying to connect. We’re trying to feel.”