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Band World Reggae


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The best kept secret in music


"Boulder’s Fraga Creates A New Sound With 1920’s Jazz Foundation"

With Fraga, it’s best to expect the unexpected. As co-founder Brian Schey explained in a recent interview with the Marquee, “To break it down to the lowest common denominator, our band is short attention-span theater.” Hailing from Boulder this ten-piece band has taken classic 1920s jazz musical parameters and spread them to the boarders of early Cuban and Jamaican dance hall music while incorporating vaudeville and cabaret-style production --– in essence, Fraga has created a sound and live show that is uniquely its own.
Founded by Schey in 2003, Fraga’s mission from its inception was to create musical soundscapes that were rooted in good classic songwriting.
“You can say everything that needs to be said in a four or five minute song,” Schey said. “In all music, the song is the root of expression. That is the focus of what I was looking for when all this started.”
Schey’s thinking was that the songs, in turn, would then allow everybody in the band to showcase their talents amongst the rich backdrop of Fraga’s own artistic musical arrangements. This would allow each and every member of the group to shine for their own portion of the show, yet keep Fraga together as a cohesive whole. Schey wanted the song to be the stars of Fraga’s widely diverse show.
At the core of Fraga is the former back-up band for Dan Bern, the IJBC. This group of long-time friends includes Schey on bass, vocals, tenor ukulele and guitar, Jake Coffin on drums and vocals, and Will Masisak on keyboards, vocals and bass, and Eben Grace on guitar, pedal steel, banjo and vocals. Layered over the core is a horn section consisting of John Stewart on tenor saxophone and clarinet, John Gray on trumpet, and Jon Stubbs on trombone. John Rademaker also adds percussion to the group’s sound.
While most of the group’s leads are sung by one of Fraga’s two female vocalists, Kim Franco of Caberet Diosa and Danya River, any member is able to assume the lead vocal at any time, changing the dynamic of a Fraga show by introducing a new storyteller to the crowd.
The international aspect of the group adds much variety to Fraga’s repertoire, which spans from calypso to Dixieland and from tango to reggae. They can basically play anything, and they do. It is not uncommon for the group to follow a blues standard, such by guitarist Grace, with a Jamaican ska number, sung by drummer Coffin. The band’s mission seems to be to explore as many genres of music as possible.
“We are an American band,” Schey said. “But in reality we are a band bringing American music back to the States from the people across the world who were influenced by the American music they heard on radios or on records. We are returning the music to the States with the world’s own unique influence on it.”
Schey, the musical leader/director of Fraga, takes responsibility for the charting of the band’s music and conducting sectional rehearsals with various members of the group to prepare for shows, since full band rehearsals are few and far between. Schey even brings band members songs to sing, if he thinks a particular member might mesh well with a particular song or style.
Having spent quite a bit of rehearsal time in Immersive’s Studio 7 last fall and at the beginning of this year, Fraga seems more than ready to get the whole package out in front on audiences over the spring and summer. With a CD available at its shows and a new full album slated for the near future, Fraga’s main project now is spreading the word.
“It is fairly difficult to get 10 guys who are in other projects to devote all their time to one thing,” drummer Coffin said. “Everyone in this band is so good though. It is pretty amazing how we all come together for a show. I just hope we can get the ball rolling and create some momentum. There are a lot of people in this area who are interested in many different styles of music. Fraga is so great because it’s an exploration of styles,” he said.
Schey seems to agree. “We are trying to come up with our own unique approach,” he said. “We are not trying to emulate some other band. We want to come across as something new, but have our foundations rooted in the past.”

- Marquee Magazine, April 2005 by Johnathan Keller


Fraga (2004)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Hailing from Boulder, CO, this nine-piece band has taken classic 20's & 30's Jazz musical parameters and spread them to the borders of early Cuban and Jamaican music. Fraga also seamlessly weaves Americana elements such as pedal steel, ukulele, and banjo into it's unique sound.

Founded by arranger/bassist Brian Schey in 2003, Fraga's musical soundscape originates from classic songcraft meticulously arranged and executed by some of the region's finest musicians. The songs are chosen to allow everyone in the band to showcase their particular talents.

At the heart of the Fraga show is a Vaudeville Cabaret -style production, complimented by skits, characters and sets. While most most leads are sung by one of Fraga's two lead vocalists, Danya River and Kim Franco, any member can assume the lead vocal, changing the dynamic of the show itself by introducing a new storyteller to the audience.