All Faux One: The Fab Faux, clockwise from top left: Jimmy Vivino, Jack Petruzzelli, Will Lee, Rich Pagano, Frank Agnello.
By TOM CHESEK (First published on Red Bank oRBit July 29, 2009)
It was just about five weeks ago that The Fab Faux — that wondrous bunch of WannaBeatles assembled from some of the most sought-after session cats in what’s left of the music biz — came to Red Bank to perform their annual benefit concert at the Count Basie Theatre, a tradition that’s been going on for the better part of ten years. While local FauxFans have generally had to do an entire lap around the sun until their next FauxFix, the summer of 2009 offers up an unprecedented opportunity to catch the MockTops in action once more — this time on the open-air SummerStage of the Stone Pony, where they’ll be appearing this Saturday evening.
That’s especially exciting news, since the five Fabs certainly have their own fish to fry throughout the working week. This, after all, is the band that famously features two fixtures of late-night talk TV — bassist Will Lee of The Late Show with David Letterman, and guitarist Jimmy Vivino of the recently relocated Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien. With Conan’s move 3000 miles (and one crucial time-slot) away, the bandmates have become Nielsen ratings rivals of sorts (awk-wurrd), though you’d never know it by Vivino’s continued cross-country treks to join his East Coast compadres nearly every weekend.
Fellow vocalists and instrumentalists Frank Agnello, Rich Pagano and Jack Petruzzelli are themselves members of that same talent pool of New York session aces, and together the five fabulous fakirs have played with pretty much everyone in the history of the recording industry. No, really. Everyone. Like, there’s no point in even starting a list. In fact, we’ll just list the pathetic handful of acts who haven’t worked with any of these guys — Mrs. Miller, The Singing Nun, Wazmo Nariz, Jeff Conaway, Von Lmo, Old Skull, and Rotting Moldy Flesh. And we’re not even sure about a couple of those there.
Don’t even think of The Fab Faux as a hobby project — not when the band has stepped up their schedule of live dates, gigging transcontinentally and internationally with the mix of early-career jangle and psychedelic-era experiments that have made their homage the most respected from here to the annual Beatle Week fest in Liverpool.
With its special emphasis on late-period Beatle tunes — the ones the boys never got around to playing live — and its welcome avoidance of moptop wigs, matching suits, Sgt. Pepper facial hair and 60s stock footage, a Fab Faux show is a thing of beauty and drama and nuance that puts forth stuff like “A Day in the Life” and “I Am the Walrus” and “Glass Onion” in ways you’ll never hear on the county fair circuit.
Red Bank oRBit spoke to William F. Lee IV on a rare night between gigs; Continue Reading for best results.