Thursday, January 8, 2015

Chicago musician Rebecca Francescatti harnesses spirit of Patsy Cline on new EP, "The Kitchen"


If you're tired of what passes for country music these days, you would do well to get a hold of Rebecca Francescatti's new EP, "The Kitchen," which harnesses the spirit of Patsy Cline and others.

Her band, Rebecca F. & The Memes, will celebrate the release of "The Kitchen" with a show Jan. 9 at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. The show starts at 10 p.m. and tickets are $8, available at

I had the chance to talk to the Chicago musician about the upcoming show.

Q - Great talking to you. Of course, your new EP, "The Kitchen," will be released in January. In sitting down to make the album, what were your goals and do you think you accomplished them? How did you go about choosing the musicians on the album, which I understand include drummer Joe Adamik, known for his work with the band Iron & Wine?

We wanted to make a true-­blue, old­-fashioned country album. Fit with the kind of beautiful, melancholy, meaningful songs for which classic country cats like Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson are known.

Basically, we wanted to bring country back. Strobe Recordings Studio owner James Frederick Wagner selected the musicians, recorded and produced the album.

His production style is truly singular, and Strobe is such a beautiful, private place to work. A real Chicago gem.

Jamie also played bass on the album.  

Q - You had a development deal with R. Kelly's Rockland Records. What were the biggest lessons that you learned from the experience and R. Kelly?

Those lessons were a hard time coming. When you score a development deal with the biggest hit writer of the '90s at the age of 25, you expect fame and fortune.

That didn’t happen. After being tossed back into the sea of Real Life, it took me a bit of time to shake off the delusion.

The biggest lesson I learned was something I heard that Elliott Smith said years ago, and I paraphrase: “No one cares about your music as much as you do.” No one can make your career: only you can.

I can write songs til I’m blue in the face, but if I’m not out there recording them professionally and promoting them, they will disappear into the ether. It’s not good enough to be in your bedroom creating a huge catalog of songs with ProTools, it’s not enough.

As Theodore Roosevelt wrote, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again.”

Q - The judge ruled against you in your lawsuit against Lady Gaga. Were you surprised at the verdict? Do you think that your experience provided lessons for other musicians?

I was surprised we didn’t get a trial by jury, because I was raised that in America, you get to have a trial by your peers. That was a learning lesson.

Loopholes.  Unfortunately I think my case shows that copyright doesn’t matter, that our rights as solo songwriters aren’t protected in today’s climate of “digital barbarism,” as writer Mark Helprin puts it.  

My essay, “Why You Should Care That Lady Gaga is Suing Me for $1.4 Million Dollars” still exists online, though my lawyers strongly advised me to remove it from my personal website – which I did.  

Basically the powers that be want us to be afraid, so afraid they’re willing to sue a penniless artist for a million dollars. Their shot across the bow is: “If stand up to the corporate infrastructure, even if you’re a nobody, we’ll ruin you.” 

Q - Now Lady Gaga is suing you for legal costs that total $1.4 million. What is your next move?

We’re working on an appeal.  At this point, and throughout the case, I’ve followed the advice of my lawyers. 

Q - What do you think of the Chicago music scene and how do you think you fit into it?

Chicago’s awash in untapped talent. L.A. and NYC are commercial hubs, but in Chicago, we’re still making music just because we love it.

If New York and L.A. ever noticed, great music might make a comeback. Sure commercialization of the scene would change Chicago’s innocence…but at least artists would start getting paid.

Q - Do you have any dream projects or collaborations?

Fingerpick and sing “Don’t Think Twice” with Bob Dylan on the Grammy stage; co-­lead a revolution w/ Russell Brand, be his queen; co­-write a film called "Digital Meltdown" with two of the funniest men I know, Matthew Stabley and Luke Matheny, produce it, and win an Oscar.  Yeah, I do!