From CBGB to LACA
Frank Galante is a man of many talents, and a musician with many stories.
He hopes to regale locals with some of the anecdotes learned and experienced during a lifetime of musical exploration tonight at the Ludington Area Center for the Arts, 107 S. Harrison St., where Galante is set to perform for the second installment of the “Intimate Evening With…” concert series.
His performance will be two-tiered, beginning with a set comprised of 15th and 16th century lute pieces and reprising after a brief intermission with a handful of electric blues standards.
“It’ll be an eclectic program. It should be interesting,” Galante said. “I’m as interested as anyone as to how it’s going to go over. We’re breaking new ground.”
Originally hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Galante retired in Pentwater after visiting friends in the area and developing an appreciation for the lakeshore. He’s a lifelong guitar player and added the lute to his repertoire after taking up the classical guitar in the 1980s.
“The first (performance) will be Italian works from the early 16th century and Renaissance works. Also I’m going to be playing some Spanish renaissance pieces also on the vihuela — the Spanish answer to the lute, tuned like a lute but shaped like a guitar, and very popular in the 1500s,” Galante said. “The lute was descended from the ood — an Arabic instrument. They wrote absolutely beautiful music for this thing. The Spaniards ultimately used this instrument as a vehicle for exploration into the metaphysics of music. It became a spiritual discipline.”
The second performance will be “straight-out blues,” he said.
“Songs by… Robert Johnson, Jimmy Reed, Howlin’ Wolf — stuff that everyone around here will surely recognize,” Galante continued. “I’ve been playing the blues all my life, and I like doing it. It can reach metaphysical levels in its own right.”
Though Renaissance music and blues might sound like an incongruous match, Galante said the two seemingly different styles actually share some common ground.
“There are structural similarities between renaissance music and the blues. Listen to ‘Greensleeves,’ it’s built around 1-4-5 (blues) chords,” he said. “The other connection they have is that there was a very real element of improvisation in renaissance music just as there was in the blues.”
Improvisation and spontaneity are two of the elements of music that interest Galante most, influencing a process he’s been fine-tuning for most of his life.
“I started playing the blues when I was 14. I’ve been playing it ever since,” he said. “I’ve always liked it. Spontaneous improvisation is a very important part of musical performance for me.”
Galante cut his teeth in the storied New York City music scene of the 1970s and ’80s, when he played at legendary venues like CBGB and Max’s Kansas City with his band at the time, the Rice Miller Band — later re-christened the Reptiles — with whom he opened for the likes of Blondie and performed with other New York notables like the Shirts.
See The Scene in Thursday’s Ludington Daily News print and e-Edition for the full story.