From a short distance, Al Frisby looks like a classic Santa Cruz surfer: rich silver locks atop a lanky frame. But when face-to-face, Frisby’s drawl reveals his Louisiana roots. The beloved singer/songwriter spouts a wellspring of local lore, has an encyclopedic knowledge of New Orleans music, and offers a slightly demented view of the world—in other words, he’s a colorful character. By the time Frisby arrived in Santa Cruz in the early ’90s, he had made a name for himself by writing comical novelty songs that poked fun at the counterculture. For example, “Deadheads on Bad Paper Acid,” is, according to Frisby, “A good ballad waltz about being raised in a VW van and traveling around the country.”
Over the years, he has created numerous musical projects, including a show comprised of spiritual anthems, called “The Gospel Project,” with Grammy-nominated soul singer Tammi Brown. For Frisby, the highlight of his career so far was opening for his hero, Frank Black of The Pixies, at The Catalyst—and, after two decades of memorable performances, he has no intention of slowing down. Frisby’s latest one-man band finds him playing Americana music on acoustic Hawaiian lap guitar, mandolin, banjo, accordion, and a selection of guitars, bells, whistles, and harmonica. While Frisby’s known to play both originals and standards like “Goodnight, Irene,” he finds it disheartening when fans ask if he wrote the latter. “I’m not even from this country. I’m from Louisiana,” he says. “I don’t know what the hell you people do here, but I can tell you one thing, you better get your house in order as far as your music is concerned.” To commemorate his 20 years of making music in Santa Cruz, Frisby will perform a special set at Don Quixote’s on June 28, with the help of Tammi Brown, Patti Maxine, Ukulele Dick and other local musicians. Be on the lookout for Frisby’s latest CD, featuring new songs and old favorites, entitled Lache Pas a Patate, a Cajun saying which translates to “Don’t Drop the Potato.”
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 28. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy 9, Felton. $12/adv, $15/door. 603-2294.