Freddy & Francine

Freddy & Francine

Fri · April 20, 2018

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

$15.00 - $20.00

Freddy & Francine
Freddy & Francine
Freddy & Francine is an Americana-Soul duo comprised of Bianca Caruso & Lee Ferris. With voices reminiscent of Aretha Franklin & Van Morrison, their songs blend Soul, R&B, Folk, and Americana with a modern, yet timeless appeal to all ages.

"Ferris and Caruso have found their respective vocal soulmates, the kind of perfect harmonies that send a gripping shiver down the backbone of the listener" says The Deli Magazine.

No Depression says, "Freddy & Francine currently top my list. There is definitely a palpable chemistry between these musicians, with their vocals blending like milk and honey."

Freddy & Francine have released 2 EPs & 3 full length records since 2008. Their latest full length album, Gung Ho was produced by renowned producer Todd Sickafoose (Ani DiFranco, Andrew Bird, Anais Mitchell) and featured members of Ryan Adams, Rufus Wainwright, and Andrew Bird's touring bands.

National audiences continue to be drawn to the duo as they "bring it all out on stage from a lullaby so sweet you'd swear a choir of angels were harmonizing just for you; to gut-busting, foot stomping tunes befitting a New Orleans gospel choir." - Flagstaff AZ Daily Sun

While romantic entanglement hasn't been exactly uncommon when it comes to successful musical duos -- we might mention Buckingham and Nicks, Sonny and Cher, Bonnie and Delaney, and Goffin and King simply for starters -- Freddy & Francine, or, as they're known to family and friends, Lee Ferris and Bianca Caruso, have built a career that's been intertwined with their feelings for both their music and each other.

Naturally, that romantic roller coaster offers the potential for plenty of inspiration as far as their songs are concerned, but real life doesn't always play according to the rules. Nevertheless, the duo's latest full length album, aptly entitled Gung Ho, offers a celebration of sorts, one that now only finds the couple reunited after going their separate ways, but also on the verge of ascending the next plateau. Recorded — where else — at Gung-Ho Studio in Eugene Oregon with an all star cast of players that includes renowned producer and multi-instrumentalist Todd Sickafoose (Anais Mitchell, Ani DiFranci), 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), it purveys a joyful, uplifting, harmony-drenched sound that reflects their commitment to Americana, and to each other. Echoes of Lone Bellow, the Civil Wars and the Swell Season are apparent in its grooves, but the inspiration, originality and enthusiasm are obviously their own.

"We had each gathered so many new experiences and influences in the time we were apart," Bianca, AKA Francine, explains. "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. Surprisingly, he was only a couple of phone calls away, and when he agreed to come on board, we couldn't have been happier."

It's been their audience's enthusiasm that have propelled them all along, even in the very beginning. Ferris originally pursued a solo career in his native L.A., performing a combination of what he describes as roots, swing, and "less commercial music that was obscure but fun." In 2007 he was asked to audition for a role in the 40th anniversary revival of the iconic counter culture musical Hair after a producer caught one of his live performances. Although he had never acted professionally, he was quickly cast for the lead role of Berger. That's when he met Bianca, who was also featured in the show. The two clicked immediately, and when Bianca expressed an interest in writing some original music together, their professional partnership began in earnest. "It was very apparent right from the start that we had musical chemistry," Lee recalls. Bianca agrees. "It wasn't always easy," she suggests. "But the end result was worthy of our efforts."

Once the run with Hair concluded in 2008, Lee recorded and released a solo album, Introducing Lee Ferris, produced by Christian Nesmith (son of Michael Nesmith). However it soon became evident that they were at their best when performing together. Both had been classically trained, Lee at the Berklee School of Music and Bianca trained in the vocal performance program at Los Angeles Valley College ("I dropped out to be in Hair,'" she chuckles. "Just so I could ruin my voice and forget everything I learned."). However, the defining moment occurred when Lee asked her to join him onstage to sing one of their co-compositions, a song entitled Over and Over. They dubbed their sound "50s prom rock" and assumed a new guise, calling themselves Freddy & Francine to capture that fanciful spirit. Their newfound fans played along with the ruse, calling out to the duo by their adopted handle. Needless to say, the name stuck.

"It's transitioned along with our musical trajectory," Lee observes. "When we started, the environment was chock full of super cutesy pop music in and around L.A. Our music evolved out of that, but the name still seems to work. Sometimes it feels kind of like a tattoo that we're still forced to explain."

Freddy & Francine's self-titled debut EP appeared in 2008, followed by a full length set entitled The Briar Patch the following year. Recorded over the course of nine days at a cabin in northern Arizona and largely self-produced, the album was an immediate success, courtesy of airplay on the influential L.A. radio station KCRW, which also placed one of its songs, Brownstone Alley, as its Top Tune of the day.

The two had not yet become romantically involved, and they remained friends and musical partners while setting out to record their next album, 2010's The Forest and the Sea. Nevertheless, it was quickly becoming clear that their relationship was evolving in a more personal direction. "In many ways, that album was autobiographical," Lee reflects. "We had written these songs before we realized we had feelings for one another. In the past we had assumed certain fictional characters in order to inhabit our material. But with this album we were stepping into new roles, as ourselves. It was subconscious at first, but it soon became evident that what we were doing was wrestling with a sense of entanglement and struggling with ways to keep our distance and preserve our boundaries while still facing the fact that we were now totally romantically dependent on one another."

"It was a kind of catharsis," Bianca recalls. "It helped us make sense of the things that were playing out between us. It plotted out course for the future."

Except that it didn't.

As the pair point out, it was the beginning and the end... of both the band and their relationship. 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 for the next three and half years it appeared that it was and that indeed their common bond had been forever fractured. Lee went on to play Carl Perkins in the hit Broadway show Million Dollar Quartet, while Bianca moved to New York City, and then back to L.A. where she founded a musical comedy duo called Zabruso with her friend Jen Zaborowski, leading to a TV development deal and monthly performances at the house Joni Mitchell once occupied in Laurel Canyon.

In that entire time the two didn't speak. The ice was broken when Bianca decided to record a solo album, which she dubbed Bravado. She included a song called I Wanna Go Home With You, which 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 have released 2016's Gung Ho and an EP, Don't Just Stand There in 2017, and have featured sets sheduled this year at Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Sisters Folk Fest and others, it appears that a happy ending is indeed at hand and the sky is the limit for Freddy& Francine.
Venue Information:
The Warming House
4001 Bryant Ave South
Minneapolis, MN, 55409