Poets don't think the same way you or I do. They go in search of words that usually don't go together in order to gather up pictures and feelings that the average jamoke can barely see or feel, much less express.

On a periodic basis, I wander in off the street full of chaotic thoughts or buried in gray responsibilities, short on insight. I'll find a kind of truth that existed early on, before things got muddled with the hypocrises of age.

I sit down in front of a beer in a dimly lit room with a spotlit stage on one end and listen to a big bear of a man cut through my mundane thoughts and break my heart with his tender but fierce songs.


Frank Tedesso is singing

by Richard Cuccaro

Frank's songs are stories woven with the commonest of words put together with economic efficiency. The listener has walked into a bar to find the reincarnation of Ernest Hemingway standing there with a guitar instead of sitting on a barstool, contemplating firearms.

Every night with Frank is different. An off-the wall story here, a wild musing there. Frank is a tad bummed this evening. He says that the day started off badly…and continued on that way. For starters, he burned the oatmeal. Not something he ordinarily does. It's not that he likes the stuff, he says. Eating it is a healthy thing to do, he figures. Maybe rather than look at this as a bad omen for a day filled with off-kilter, undesirable happenings (which it was), he figured the burnt oatmeal might actually be a good thing. "Pan-Blackened Oatmeal" a new, trendy dish, he muses, served with glasses of champagne on New Years' Eve. Well, no…he realizes. "But," he says, "I decided I'd eat it anyway, and y'know…it tastes like mortar on the best of days … it didn't taste all that much different."

He syncopates the cadences in the verses, jazz-like, catching my pulse rate, provoking a stutter-step in the flow of blood…or is that because I'm holding my breath, unbelieving, just waiting, as, a split-second away, the next verbal flare makes my synapses blink…

    all this free jazz hurts my head

    my brain is filled with your sad mystery

    all the things i meant to say

    all the things i said instead

    still i love this darkness 'cause it makes me love the light

    i love the fog because you can make christmas eve of any night

    i love you though there are no reasons

    to make it come out right

    just the bare trees and my bones

    just the rainy night and your sigh

    all the thunder in the world

    and all i hear is you softly crying

    all the thunder in the world

    and all i hear

    all i can hear…

    i met an old black crow

    squalkin' coltrane on the wing

    and he told of this river just beyond sing sing

    he said it was the river from the old convict's lullaby

    where the stars make their break through the rainy night sky

    but i can't speak rain and i can't speak crow

    and i stutter in my dreams

    i got this half of a map that the stars left behind

    it always leads me back to your eyes…

    all the thunder in the world

    and all i hear is you softly crying

    all the thunder in the world

    and all i hear…

       from an untitled work- all lyrics ©1999 Frank Tedesso

Frank prefaces the song "Aubrey," relating that he and the woman in the song were headed in separate directions before the song was written. "She went to Switzerland and I went back to New York City. We would have these long distance conversations. Sometimes they were wonderful. Sometimes they were like conversations in a psychiatric ward. I'd say, 'There's a world out there…it's bigger than my world and it's bigger than your world and there's a place for us there'…She loved to hear me talk like that…but, in the end, she just didn't buy it."

Frank is currently performing and affiliated with with a group called The Independence Project. He'll be performing with them at the Fez on October 4th. There is a website. If you go to www.independenceproject.com, and click on the title guitar sketch icon, you'll get to the artists in the group. If you click on Frank's name, you'll find a written self-portrait. This is a part of it:

"My will is dust. A little rain could make it into mud. Many things are made of mud. Why not a life? Maybe I should stick to description. I live in 3 small rooms with many pictures on the walls. Faces, many pictures of faces. But only one sorta real here and now Human type face; Mine…" (Give it a try —RC)

Frank has a CD called Einstein's Violin. There are many brilliant songs and the lyrics are there to read. These are some of my favorite verses from newer works, or others not on the CD:

    well god made up the world, aw

    but he got stuck for an ending

    he got lost half way through

    and carried away with the color blue

    an' heaving a sigh, he watched a world

    run down eve's thighs

    he called it forever and he kissed it goodbye…


                ”Maggie's Blues”  © Frank Tedesso 1999



    the night does not understand me,

    the night does not speak english

    not verbs, not nouns,

    not these human sounds

    the wind squawks at the river,

    the laughter of fish tingles

    through the current

    a mouth forms about a sound

    but it's only silence

    it comes out silence, no…

    god's brain exploded over hiroshima

    oh but god did not go crazy, no

    he just had this nervous breakcown

    we call it the twentieth century

    what could i add to that,

    what could i add to that,

    the wires of a heart trembling with music

    what could i add to that…


         ”What Could I Add to That”  © Frank Tedesso 1999


     it's raining in tibet,

    all of the holy men are getting wet

    it's only snowing on my street,

    but my heart is melting away from me…

    There's a madman up in the attic

    stompin' the blues in his chains

    he sings my songs, he wears my clothes

    he answers to my name

    love me because i am crazy'

    as crazy as you are beautiful

    love me because i know forever

    runs through me and you

    and these flesh and bones

    de flesh and de bone

    is that the holy ghost on the saxophone

    sometimes a man has the need to roam

    to roam from these flesh and bones

       ”Flesh and Bones”  © Frank Tedesso 1999


    the pigeon woman told me she was god's wife

    i said, is that right? how's god doin' these days?

    she say…he ain't been the same since

    he pricked his thumb on adam's rib

    he looked away and up come the wind

    and the pages of the world went flyin,

    as if they had wings of their own

    and all he could do was watch them blow, no

    just watchin the days blow by, mostly

    now he watches the days blow by

    my old man watchin' the days blow by

    aw but you're just a dream to me now

    it feels like it was just some sad dream now

    aubrey you're just a dream to me now

    you're fading like a dream from me now…


          “Aubrey”  © Frank Tedesso 1999


Peter Calo Knows How to Fret

by Barbara Horowitz

What kinds of music does a musician play? The music that he or she likes, of course. What if the person enjoys a wide range of different types of music?

If that person is musician Peter Calo, he brings diverse styles into his songs and works toward vehicles that everyone can relate to. Peter spoke with me recently about this and related topics.

What are the different musical styles that influence you?

I love blues, funky stuff, South American music, Mediterranean sounds, and flamenco. So I try to create an organic blend. No matter how good you are, you have to sit down with people who have all different techniques and styles and make the music.

I understand you've done a lot of back-up work and played in bands, as well as soloing. Do you prefer one over the other?

I sell myself as a solo act, although sometimes I might run across people I know and have them sit in with me. I find it hardest to perform solo, both mentally and physically. I do play in a band with a percussionist, Joe Mowatt, and a bass player, Ken Rich, with an acoustic bass guitar. Mike Harvey is a keyboardist and back-up singer. I love the fact that my band is acoustic. As for the back-up work, I've mostly toured with pop acts, sometimes jazz, although I did play guitar once in an opera! And I've backed up some blues artists as well. I did some touring with Carly Simon, also with Linda Eder, a Broadway actress. I suppose my back-up experience has been pretty diverse. And I've recently completed the guitar tracks for an upcoming Robert DeNiro flick.

I know you write a lot of the songs you perform. On your CD, Wired to the Moon, you wrote or co-wrote all the songs. Are you a prolific songwriter? Does a song usually take a long time for you to write, or not?

Music always comes quickly for me. However, the older I get, the more I listen, the harder I find it is to write the lyric. I do love the challenge of how to keep what I write from sounding cliched. I don't want to make a song preachy or political, but sometimes I do. There's nothing worse than getting preachy in a song-telling what's right or wrong. Story-telling in a song works much better. And folk music, with its simple melodies, is really all about the song. Is what you're going to write about worthy of the verse/chorus/verse/chorus, etc. structure? Songwriting is hard, and I think that finding the perspective you wish to take is the hardest part.

How, then, would you sum up your thoughts on music and songwriting?

As I mentioned earlier, I might find performers to sit in with me at a gig-it's a pretty flexible style. I find that musicians do vary in their degrees of flexibility. But that's okay as long as audience members go away with something. And as for me, well, I didn't take this up to punch in a clock. What I aim to do is get away from the mind-set of "How much did I make tonight?" and keep my sights on something more meaningful.

Peter will be at The Common Sense Café in Port Chester on September 17, at the Dark Star in Manhattan on September 18 , and at the SUN Music Company in Manhattan on September 29. For booking, please contact Kerrie or Vicki at 914-937-7630. For anything else, including the purchase of his CD, Wired to the Moon, Peter's website is www.petercalo.com.

CD Review: Gliding along a Thoroughfare

by Richard Cuccaro

Rebecca Martin- Thoroughfare

Independent production

Rebecca is the diva who was the lead singer for the regrettably defunct band Once Blue and is the leader of The Independence Project. When we received her CD in the mail, it was time to begin reviews of recorded work.

She doesn't just sing — her vocals glide.

Thoroughfare is a blend of acoustic pop and jazz, with a poetic sensibility toward its subjects. Rebecca's voice, with a soaring bell-like tone, floats above a pristine blend of acoustic and electric Metheny-like guitar by Steve Cardenas, bass by Larry Grenadier and light, articulate work on the traps and percussion by Kenny Wollesen. The CD is suffused with goodbyes and the hurt is still around, but the singer is in control of her emotions here. The voice takes the pain, and, examining it, turns it over in the singer's hand and even tosses it lightly in the air.

The CD opens with 'Goodbye my Love," a bittersweet look back at an affair that has ended. The lyrics are just cryptic enough to suggest the possibility of something more than a lost love. The rythmn is bouncy and light as if to say, "Ah well, time to move on."

"Your Arms Around Me Now" looks at the fear that a lover might disappear back into the crowd but whose presence now is all that matters. Reverb, echo and Rebecca's background harmonies combine to recreate a sweeping ecstasy.

The title cut "Thoroughfare" has a Latin, bossanova-like beat. Its coolness makes good use of Rebecca's smooth vocal style.

The last cut, "The Red Wall," is my favorite. I heard Rebecca do it live and the emotions ride on the surface here just the way they did then.

There's nothing quite like sitting in a small club, sharing the same space with her…and hearing that voice live. She'll be performing with The Independence Project on Wednesday, October 20th, at the Fez, and at the Living Room every Monday in November . You can also, however, buy this CD from her.

Go to the website: www.independenceproject.com, get the CD, crank up the volume and let the sound wash over you.