New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


This article is from our magazine. To view it in its original format, click here

Francis Lombardi

By Gary Wien

originally published: 01/22/2016

Francis Lombardi“Trying to go out and make a living as a musician is the fuckin’ wild west,” said Francis Lombardi, a singer-songwriter based in the Asbury Park music scene who recently completed eight weeks on the road with Daphne Lee Martin.

This was Lombardi’s first time hitting the road, while Martin (a singer-songwriter based in Connecticut) is a veteran with five tours to her name.  They were introduced to each other by the guys in the band the Accidental Seabirds.  When Martin said asked Lombardi if he would like to hit the road with her, he was definitely interested. You could say he chose his first touring partner wisely. While traveling across the country, Martin showed him the way to book shows, handle lodging, and travel between the venues.  He also noticed that she knew many musicians along the way.  

“It’s funny going out for eight weeks and seeing how people met each other, the community of musicians is smaller than you would think,” said Lombardi.  “I know (Daphne) knows a lot of people, but it just seems there is a small community of musicians doing the singer-songwriter or folk thing, so they all kind of know each other.”

Lombardi was touring in advance of his second record, a self-titled release.  The physical copies were waiting for him when he returned home from the tour, but he had digital download cards for people along the way.  The record contains dreamy, laid back folk songs reminiscent of the classic singer-songwriter work of the early 1970s.  The songs also have an uncanny ability of making you wish you had a drink in your hand.  They’re not Irish sing-along bar songs; they’re just great, soothing story songs — the type that sound nice while sitting on a barstool, passing the time at your favorite pub.

When I tell Lombardi that, he says there might be some truth to it.  When he was 19 or 20, he used to play bars throughout the area, building a repertoire of cover songs.  He remembers how he used to pick up on the reactions of the audience.  It didn’t take long to tell which songs were going to work that night and which wouldn’t.  As he moved into writing his own music, that memory stuck with him.



The article continues after this ad

 


“Subconsciously I’m always thinking what is this song going to play like when people are drinking in a bar to it?” he explained.  “Is this even going to work? A lot of times, I’ll write a song and it’s something personal that I’ll write for myself.  But it’s nice having that little thing in the back of my mind.  It came in handy on the road when we actually had to play some rowdy bars.  It wasn’t the ideal environment for the kind of music Daphne or I play, except I will do my song any one of seven different ways depending on whom I’m playing that song to.”

The record even sounds like you’re watching him on stage in a saloon somewhere.  Lombardi recorded it with Chris Everett at Sound Foundation Studios in Eatontown, New Jersey.  He says most songs were just the second or third take and the whole thing was recorded quickly with extra instrumentation (pedal steel, cello, and viola) added on afterwards thanks to musicians in Pompeii Graffiti, a band based in Annapolis, Maryland.  The end result is a beautifully melodic record, full of songs that will draw you into different worlds.

In recent years, Lombardi has been on the radar of music fans throughout the state, winning Asbury Music Awards for Top Male Solo/Acoustic Act and Top Local Album Release for Whiskey & The Mourning After (his debut record).  It was clear he was at a point in which he could either settle down and remain popular in the local scene or hit the road and take his songs to new frontiers beyond New Jersey.   He chose the latter and went into the tour without any expectations, just trying to soak it all in and learn as much as he could. The tour stretched across the country with shows taking place almost every night.  He saw the best and worst of the road; from having shows canceled because the bar went out of business to falling in love with the Deep South.  He found himself in Montana’s Big Sky Country and stayed at Gram Parsons’ suite at the Joshua Tree Inn where they performed a show streamed live on the Internet.

“The tour was like let’s play the gig.  Do we have a place to stay? We do, great! If not, let’s get on Hotwire.com and find a $35 room.  Hopefully we’ll find it somewhere between this city and the next.  We’ll sleep until checkout and then get back on the road.  We’ve got six hours to get there, unpack, and show up at the venue.  It was run and gun for a lot of it.  My brain didn’t even have time to process what the hell was going on,” he said.

While on the road, Lombardi and Martin often talked about touring - the state of touring now, what it might be like in the future, and how the process could be improved.  Lombardi isn’t sure what the answer is but he thinks technology will almost certainly play a role, possibly involving house concerts and lodging throughout the country.  Lombardi has played his share of house concerts and knows that they’re usually well attended by people who want to hear the artist and who will usually buy merchandise - two things that artists generally cannot count on when they perform in clubs.

“Everybody is trying to figure out the best way to go about it because it’s a messy process and it’s not very rewarding at times,” he said.  “Everybody is just trying to scrape by to get money.  I’m new to this, but Daphne has been doing this for five years.  My brain automatically goes to ‘how can this become better?’ and I’m not even done with the first tour!”

One piece of advice Martin gave him is something every artist should learn: always play your best regardless of how many are in the audience. Lombardi says he’s played enough bars in which he was nothing more than background music that he can initially brush off the disappointment of a small crowd, but five or six shows of that are tough to take.  But he soon learned she was right.

He recalls two instances in which that advice paid off.  Once was near Houston where the two were featured artists for an open mic night.  A local music blogger was in the audience.  He came over and talked with them, saying they would get a write-up.  Another time was in Kentucky where they found themselves performing in front of a small audience. Scanning the crowd, Martin noticed that one of the guys in the room was from a rather popular group in the area.

“Daphne was like ‘That’s why you play.  You play your fuckin’ heart out every night because you never know who’s standing at the back corner.  The next time you’re in town you’ll be able to give that guy a call and he’ll be able to help you out big time.’”

That’s how the community works.  And when those artists come to Jersey, Lombardi is ready to help them out. He’s seen the value in musicians working together, whether it’s lending a place to stay for the night or helping them get a gig. He might not know how to improve the touring situation, but he knows how to make the most of it.  As he processes the memories from his first tour across the country, it’s obvious it won’t be his last.

Photo by Andrew Holtz

 





For more by this author, click here






Light of Day's Main Event To Be Broadcast Live at McLoone's Supper Club
(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- If you couldn't get tickets for the fabled "main event" of the 2019 Light of Day Winterfest, you have another chance see the show.  For the first time in the 19-year history of the festival, the "main event", the star-studded “Bob’s Birthday Bash” on January 19th (a show that has long sold out), will be broadcast live via fiber optic cable at McLoone's Supper Club in Asbury Park.
Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts To Hold Winter Open House On January 27
(BERKELEY HEIGHTS) -- Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts (WIPA) will host a Winter Open House on Sunday, January 27 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. The free event is open to the public and will be held at the Performing Arts School (PAS) located at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights.
Billy Idol and Steve Stevens To Perform At Count Basie Center For The Arts
(RED BANK, NJ) -- Billy Idol and Steve Stevens, one of rock’s most iconic and enduring duos, will hit the road this March for their first ever tour performing as a duo: Turned On, Tuned In and Unplugged. The Billy Idol/Steve Stevens tour comes to The Count Basie Center for the Arts on Thursday, April 4th.
McDonald's Gospelfest To Celebrate The Life of Aretha Franklin With Return to Prudential Center
(NEWARK, NJ) -- The 37th Annual McDonald’s Gospelfest returns to the Prudential Center on Saturday, May 11 for the gospel event of the year. This year's event will honor and celebrate the life and legacy of the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin with an All-Star cast. The 5:00pm to 7:00pm portion of the evening will feature a rising stars competition for all ages and cultures in categories including Soloists, Choirs, Praise Dancers, Singing Groups, Gospel Comedians, Gospel Poets and Gospel Rappers. The gospel concert, beginning at 7:00pm, will feature some of the most renowned gospel artists in music history with the goal of spreading love, peace and joy to all races, nationalities and beliefs.
Bickford Theatre Presents Herb Gardner's Groundhog Jam
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- The great Groundhog Jam has a long history of prying jazz fans out of their warm burrows and into the chill of February weather in order to welcome the advent of spring.  The Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum continues a tradition of hosting this event on Monday, February 4 at 7:30pm. Herb Gardner, who plays both trombone and piano, is assembling a stellar group of musicians from the New York, New Jersey, and New England areas including: Fred Vigorito on cornet, Joe Licari on clarinet, James Chirilloon guitar, Mike Weatherly on bass and Robbie Scott on drums.  Daughters Abbie and Sarah Gardner will be handling the vocals and guitar.


Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes At Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme
This coming Sunday, January 20, Scott Wolfson and his band will be serving up their unique blend of Americana at the Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme series at Investors Bank Theater in Succasunna, New Jersey. The band – Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes – formed in Jersey City in 2011, and, even though the members have migrated in various directions since then, they still consider themselves to be a Jersey City band.
"He Totally Wowed Us!" John Oates LIVE! at SOPAC
It’s brisk for an evening walk on South Orange Ave. in South Orange, NJ, this Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 evening, but it’s a good road to follow as it leads us directly to the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) for a special performance by singer, songwriter, and guitarist John Oates and his backup group, The Good Road Band.
“Tons of Fun!” The Glenn Miller Orchestra LIVE! at the Grunin Center
Although Friday, December 21, 2018 is the shortest day of the year, the audience of big band music lovers here at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts is hoping for a long evening of classic swing and holiday tunes performed by the incomparable Glenn Miller Orchestra!
Mike Davis and The New Wonders
Mike Davis traces his love for the trumpet back to a Disney movie. He grew up in a musical family, with both his parents playing strings in the Seattle Symphony. But Davis wanted an instrument of his own. Then, at age 9, he saw “The Aristocats,” the animated film about a bunch of French felines — including a group of jazz-playing alley cats.
Ana Gasteyer's "Holiday Tipple" LIVE! at the Grunin Center
The Grunin Center stage in Toms River, NJ is set this Saturday, December 15, 2018 with drums, a grand piano, a guitar, an acoustic bass, and various microphones for vocals. A stool and several microphone stands are bedazzled with colorful garlands of shiny red, gold, and green, and wrapped gifts are strewn on stage among the instruments. Projected white snowflakes adorn the walls, and Christmas music plays as patrons enter the theater to put everyone in the mood for tonight’s holiday show — Ana Gastayer’s Holiday Tipple!










Event calendar
Thursday, Jan 17, 2019


MUSIC


Open Mic Night! @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 7:30pm


THEATRE

"Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm


KIDS

AMERICAN GIRL LIVE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:00pm

View all events










 






















For more on our awards, click here








New Jersey Stage © 2019 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.