Following 1998’s World in a Drop of Water, Michael Fracasso continued working with Charlie Sexton and George Reiff in the studio, recording the soundtrack to Natural Selection (aka The Monster Hunter) and then a follow-up to the former album – at that juncture his third studio LP. Big Top proved a freewheeling kaleidescope, both playful and poignant, but never made it to market.
“After the previous record kind of flopped and I believed in it so much, I just didn’t want to put another one out there to be killed like that,” admits Fracasso of spiking the full-length. “I decided to scale back on how I was approaching things and go back to square one. Go back to being a folk song, acoustic guy.”
The songs reemerged as Sexton prepared a tribute to George Reiff following the beloved local bassist’s death in 2017, and the recordings so impressed producer/keyboardist/arrangement genius Michael Ramos that he pushed to put them out with his Lucky Hound label. Fracasso and Sexton revive Big Top live along with Ramos, and while some songs have remained in the singer’s repertoire (“A Deal’s a Deal,” “Long After Hours”), most have never been performed. From the Beatles blast of “Thurston’s Lament” to the gorgeously understated “My Blue Heaven,” Fracasso’s timeless melodies still hum.
“At first, Charlie and I were like, ‘How did we do this?’” Fracasso laughs. “It was so complete in a weird way that I didn’t know whether we could get back into the record in that manner again. We were just kind of on a roll back then, so when I listened back to it, some of the stuff I had to go back to Charlie and ask, ‘What did we do here?’
“Some of the stuff, I don’t even know what I’m playing.”
Sun., June 9, 7pm