Born to Italian immigrants who cooked massive family meals and bottled their own wine, singer-songwriter Michael Fracasso said food has played a big role in his life.
Even after he fell in love with music, he couldn’t give cooking up entirely. Instead, he’s found a way to combine his two loves, performing at private dinner parties where he also prepares classic Italian dishes.
“I get a lot out of music. It’s a release, and there’s a certain bliss,” Fracasso said. “With cooking, it’s this Zen, relaxation exercise. I do it because it’s second nature to me.”
Still, he’s yet to find parallels between them, other than that he prefers to do both solo. He’ll do one of them Thursday as part of The Blue Door’s 19th Anniversary Show.
“I’m a terrible band leader, but if you put me in a kitchen, I’m really good at directing a group of people for some reason,” he said. “Maybe that’s not true, either. I tend to like to do everything by myself.”
He went against that practice when recording 2011’s “Saint Monday,” his first album in four years. Fracasso brought along an untested
producer in novelist and frequent New York Times contributor Jim Lewis
to help with the effort and soon found that the new collaborator wasn’t
going to let inexperience deter him from providing a healthy bit of
“He was such a great editor that I gave him songwriting credit because he had a lot to say. He took a lot of the fluff that, in the past, I was willing to let slide through,” Fracasso said.
“He wouldn’t let it go, he kept me working when I thought I was done. I love that about the record; it’s really tight in every direction.”
The collaboration also resulted in a fresh sound for Fracasso, who found his tried-and-true inspirations taking a backseat to some brand-new ones.
“We made it a point of negating all my influences. It was, ‘That sounds too much like Randy Newman. That sounds too much like Bob Dylan.’ Essentially, we did nothing that came off that way,” he said.
“[Lewis] brought in a lot of ’80s material like Bowie and Iggy Pop, stuff far removed from what I typically do, and I was more than willing to go along.”