The Frankie Hernandez Band
The past several months have seen an artistic transformation for Frankie Hernandez and the Frankie Hernandez Band. The reggae group Oregon Transplant disbanded, and Hernandez and his band have a new eclectic sound that combines reggae, jazz and world beat.
"Neo singer/songwriter-driven world-influenced pop," is how Hernandez describes the new ensemble's sound.
The goal is to integrate world music into well-crafted, catchy hook-driven music, he said.
"There's more world and jazz influence than the previous reggae-rock from other musicians around here," Hernandez said.
Joining Hernandez's lead vocals, trumpet, percussion and guitar playing is Anthony "Cricket" Cusenza on acoustic or electric guitar. Bass for the group comes from fretless bass player Kelly Albrecht. "Jay Green" rounds out the group on jazz influenced drums.
"I'm really floored by Cricket's musicianship," Hernandez said. "We're lucky to have a world-class guitar player."
Cusenza is most known for his reggae-influenced guitar playing and offers a seamless crossover from acoustic to electric. The jazz element comes from Albrecht and Jay, who play in a jazz ensemble together.
The musicians are still waiting to see what kind of sound will emerge, Hernandez said.
"(We're) putting out more of his original material. He's still a dedicated musician and getting it out there," Cusenza said of playing with Hernandez.
The group draws from musical styles that range from samba to the rhythms of belly-dance music.
Like many bands, each member has side projects in the works. Hernandez is working with local flute, keyboard and percussion player Mike Whipple on a fully produced album and an acoustic album with Dirk Price, guitarist with the Rogue Suspects.
Cusenza is working on "Raz Cricket," a reggae-influenced solo and self-produced album that he hopes to finish by mid-September.
Some of his solo work is currently available on soundclick.com.
Medford's 4 Daughter's Irish Pub is a familiar venue for the Frankie Hernandez Band. The band drops in to play every few months.
Hernandez also plays there with the Frankie Hernandez Trio featuring Cusenza and Whipple with tunes that reflect a flamenco and jazz influence.
Hernandez says the band's play list depends on where they're playing. They like to play their own original tunes, but they can do covers, too.
"We recognize that when you play outside your living room, it's a service," he said.
The Frankie Hernandez Band will be performing Friday and Saturday, Aug. 15 and 16 from 9 p.m. until closing at 4 Daughters Irish Pub in Medford at 126 W. Main St. There is no cover charge and the show is open to all ages until 10 p.m.