BLUES

This month Ro­nan McCullagh checks out some psy­che­delic blues with an un­sung hero who left the busi­ness but has re­turned to play again.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Ro­nan McCullagh de­scribes the play­ing style of the guitarist from Cana­dian band Ma­hogany Rush, the in­ex­cus­ably un­der­sung Frank Marino.

At the age of 13 Frank Marino wound up in a men­tal hos­pi­tal af­ter get­ting in­volved with psy­che­delic drugs. Here he found a cheap Stella acous­tic to keep his mind off the ter­ri­fy­ing thoughts in his head. Af­ter a year or so he was in­cred­i­bly pro­fi­cient on the in­stru­ment, de­vel­op­ing a deep re­la­tion­ship with it and of­ten ex­press­ing how he felt that the gui­tar had be­came his lifeboat. Once dis­charged from hos­pi­tal Frank be­gan play­ing around Mon­treal with a trio called Ma­hogany Rush, which he named af­ter one of his LSD ex­pe­ri­ences. Tot­ing a 1961 Les Paul SG, bought by his par­ents for $75, and with bassist Paul Har­wood and drum­mer Jimmy Ay­oub, the group would take their amps and a gen­er­a­tor, find a place and play. Large crowds would con­gre­gate, and soon a small Amer­i­can la­bel made their way to see the band and of­fered them a chance to record. The al­bum, Max­oom, ded­i­cated to the late Jimi Hen­drix was re­leased in 1972; it wasn’t un­til the band’s third record Strange Uni­verse in 1975, how­ever, that they man­aged to break. They landed an open­ing slot for Queen on the Sheer Heart At­tack tour and by the time they re­leased Ma­hogany Rush IV, they were signed with Columbia. With the ma­jor la­bel be­hind them Ma­hogany Rush was pulling big num­bers to their con­certs but Marino never trusted the mu­sic busi­ness and in 1993 he de­cided enough was enough and he moved home, raised a fam­ily and built com­put­ers for a liv­ing. Happy in life and not touch­ing the gui­tar for four years he ac­ci­dently stum­bled across the Frank Marino fan page af­ter do­ing some fam­ily an­ces­try re­search on­line. He got in­volved in cha­t­rooms and be­came friends with many on the site. When asked, ‘Do you think you’ll play again?’ he re­sponded, ‘Okay’ and in 1997 at­tended the Ot­tawa Blues­fest. To­day Marino is still ac­tive record­ing and tour­ing his own mu­sic. Frank Marino’s style is var­ied to stay the least. He has his Hen­drix-like vo­cab, which he does beau­ti­fully in a blues, rock, psy­che­delic way but there are so many other as­pects to his play­ing. The al­bum Strange Uni­verse is a great place to get an idea of this ver­sa­til­ity. Through­out this record you will no­tice his amaz­ing com­po­si­tional skills but threaded through this is out­stand­ing gui­tar work. With a blues-rock base, you get those ex­pres­sive bends and repet­i­tive se­quences within a Pen­ta­tonic frame­work, as well as a much jazz­ier side of Marino as he de­liv­ers blaz­ing be-bop lines as au­then­ti­cally as many an arch­top jazz vir­tu­oso.

We didn’t Want to get rich. We didn’t Want to be fa­mous. We Wanted to make mu­sic and jam With our friends Frank Marino

Frank Marino, the stun­ningly good Cana­dian blues-rocker

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