Rhyme Report

Published on April 5th, 2016 | by Jameelah "Just Jay" Wilkerson

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Freddy & Francine Rekindle Spark on Gung Ho

Love and music have influenced the career of Freddy & Francine since the beginning, albeit somewhat tumultuously at times. The Los Angeles-based Americana duo learned long ago that love’s roller coaster offers plenty of inspiration, though the carnival ride is sometimes less enjoyable in real life. Their new album, Gung Ho, releasing June 10, offers a celebration of sorts, one that finds the couple reunited after going their separate ways, but also on the verge of ascending the next plateau.

The duo, more commonly known to friends and family as Lee Ferris and Bianca Caruso, recorded their new album at Gung-Ho Studio in Eugene, Oregon, with an all-star cast including renowned producer and multi-instrumentalist Todd Sickafoose (Anais Mitchell, Ani DiFranco), drummer Ted Poor (Andrew Bird, Bill Frisell), guitarist Kyle Sanna (Chris Thile, Yo-Yo Ma) and keyboardist Rob Burger (Lucinda Williams, Ryan Adams, Rufus Wainwright).

“We had each gathered so many new experiences and influences in the time we were apart,” Bianca said. “I had been listening to a lot of Todd Sickafoose’s work with Anais Mitchell. So when it came time to record, I couldn’t wait to share these sounds with Lee. We interviewed a lot of potential candidates, but we both decided that Todd would be the dream producer for this project.”

Gung Ho’s harmony-drenched sound echoes of Lone Bellow, the Civil Wars and the Swell Season in its grooves, but the inspiration, originality and enthusiasm are obviously their own. The couple’s story begins in 2007, when they both worked on the musical “HAiR.” As their time as cast members drew to a close, they formed their own band, eventually releasing two albums together. As time went, they realized their romantic feelings for one another, and began a relationship – which was the beginning of the end — of both the band and their feelings for one another. They played a sold-out album release party and then broke up, personally and professionally.

That could have been the end of the story, and it was for three and half years. Lee played Carl Perkins in the hit Broadway show “Million Dollar Quartet,” while Bianca moved to New York City, and back to Los Angeles where she founded a musical comedy duo called Zabruso. Then Bianca decided to record a solo album, which included a song she and Lee had co-written several years before. That led her to ask Lee to join her in the studio, and in an instant, their music was rekindled.

Now that the two are looking forward to the June release of Gung Ho, as well as the full schedule of upcoming performances, it appears that a happy ending is indeed at hand, belatedly as it seems.




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