Friday, September 12, 2008

The Frank DiPiazza variations

In my heart I continue to enthuse about the group of folks that convened at The Stable on Tuesday night to eat and drink and raise money for the ever-essential KDHX Community Media (that's 88.1 on your FM dial in St. Louis). Frank DiPiazza was one of many faces I was happy to see come out that night.

Franky, as I would like to call him, goes way back with me. He was a very young and urgent man when his band The Imps made a record with my colleague Adam Long. Adam was doing mostly hip-hop then (like the St. Lunatics), and he is doing mostly Broadway shows now (at this moment, he is in New York City recording Ain't Misbehavin', the Fats Waller tribute musical).

Adam has no ear for rock, but he made an exception for The Imps. And they made a good rock record that might have taken Franky and his boys somewhere. They didn't get there. There are countless reasons why bands with potential never go pro - too many to rehearse.

When I moved to New York, Franky called me one night. He was from New York, himself, with that vibe of a snazzy Italian dude from the city that I enjoy very much. Call it the cosmopolitan Guido - there are lots of them out there. He sounded homesick, to be talking to me in his town, with him in St. Louis. He sounded impossibly young when he said, "I'd like to call you from time, to time."

Of course, I said that would be fine. But then he never called again.

When I moved back home a few years ago, Franky had transformed himself into a photojournalist. He shot a St. Louis Magazine story I reported, on a day I was expecting a one-on-one phoner with a little-known candidate for president named Barack Obama. It was the first one-on-one Q&A with Obama in the St. Louis media market during the primary campaign. Franky photographed me, in his car, on the phone, with Obama. It's cool to have a document of that experience.

Then Franky started stringing for The New York Times, that was cool - Franky's byline as a photojournalist in the best paper back home!

Still, Franky has stuck with music. He has a track on the excellent 52nd City Sound CD, recording himself solo under the name Cold War. He and his cousin Dino, a former Imp who looked like a matinee idol back in the day, still jam together. Franky always could sing.

I can't, not very well, though I do get stuck singing some of the songs I write. At The Stable I asked Franky if he could help a brother out. I told him we had just about finished scoring The Sydney Highrise Variations by the great Australian poet Les Murray, but had recorded almost none of the score. Maybe he could come down to Nashville and do some vocals for us?

"Sure," Franky said, as only an Italian kid from New York can say "sure."

So, Franky, I posted the poem up on the Poetry Scores blog as a lyric sheet. I'll get you a CD of song roughs soon, and you can have at it!


Photo of Frank DiPiazza from his website.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Wait- 'I do the best that I can to be an open hand ...' For the record, we never really tried to 'make it' which just added to our awesomeness. Also, Dino is still pretty good looking. Thanks Chris!

Tony Renner said...

the imps were great... i engineered a live on-the-air sessions with them at fm 88.1.

-- tony

Anonymous said...

That session was a big hit. For real.