By John W. Barry
July 1, 2005
Musician's past fuels his future.
There are two earrings in his right ear, three in his left. Rings adorn his fingers. His right arm, covered in color, looks as though it was dipped, with gloved hand, in a vat of liquid tattoo. Frank Carillo of Union Vale has the rough, salt-of-the-sea looks of Jack Sparrow, the pirate played by Johnny Depp in the film, ''Pirates of the Caribbean.'' He doesn't speak of the high seas or pillaging, but this guitarist and songwriter can waltz you through an hour-long conversation that bounces between Hoagy Carmichael, Howlin' Wolf and American Bandstand. A native of East New York, Brooklyn, Carillo speaks fondly of writing songs decades ago on a New York City rooftop with his cousin, Luke, as the A-train rattled along on a nearby elevated rail line.
He speaks - almost in amazement that this week seemed fresh - of seeing the Rolling Stones on television for the first time. Scenes like those were what sparked Carillo's interest in music and love for the guitar. ''The sound,'' he said of the six-string. ''That twangy sound, the beat. ''I said, 'Ooh. Looks like a nice job.' 'Carillo, 55, is like many musicians living in the Hudson Valley - he has an extensive professional resume and exudes the personality, looks and wardrobe of a rock star. But like many other musicians around this region, you might not have heard of him. He performed in the early 1970s with rock idol Peter Frampton and several years ago with blues mainstay John Hammond. He also recorded for Atlantic Records. Carillo's bands have opened up for Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Bad Company. Former Beatle George Harrison became a friend - and someone who engaged in hours of deep conversation - after the two were introduced by Frampton. "A lot of people in my life have been map-givers," Carillo said in hushed voice. ''George was a map-giver. ''But Carillo stands firm on his own outside of a career spent playing with the big names. He has performed locally with GaluminumFoil, a music and spoken word ensemble.
On Saturday, he brings his own band to the Towne Crier in Pawling. Frank Carillo & the Bandoleros offer roots music that moves and lyrics worthy of reflection. His singing voice is a cross between what Bob Dylan might have sounded like had the folk icon refined his vocals and what Bruce Springsteen might sound like in the morning, before his first cup of coffee. Carillo speaks with excitement and wonder about the evolution of the recording process that created his Bandoleros CD, ''Bad Out There." "The sound just developed," he said. "It was like falling off a mountain. It just happened."
© 2004 Frank Carillo All Rights Reserved.