Music Preview: Frenchy Burrito gathers bands for Rainbow Kitchen benefit Wednesday, October 22, 2003 By Scott Mervis, Post-Gazette Weekend Editor Frenchy Burrito spends Wednesday mornings answering phones at the Rainbow Kitchen, directing people to the professionals who work there. "The underemployed, the unemployed, the homeless. On drugs and off drugs. You name it, they call," he says. Tomorrow, the musician will make another contribution to the cause by organizing Salt of the Earth, a benefit concert at Rosebud featuring the likes of Joe Grushecky, Jimmy Sapienza and 5 Guys Named Moe, Karl Hendricks Trio, Mon Gumbo and Brad Yoder. It's the fourth such show over 12 years presented by Burrito, a Minneapolis native who came to Pittsburgh by way of Chicago and other places 35 years ago. Salt of the Earth What: Rainbow Kitchen benefit, hosted by the Post-Gazette's Tony Norman and featuring Jimmy Sapienza and 5 Guys Named Moe, Sounder, Joe Grushecky, The Shanks, The Little Wretches, Chuck Owston, Grain, Adam Evil and The Outside Royalty, Mon Gumbo, Karl Hendricks, Science Fiction Idols, Brad Yoder, Badr Regiment, Frenchy Burrito and The Folk Pistols. Where: Rosebud, Strip. When: 7 tomorrow.. Admission: $10; 412-464-1892. Burrito, who will perform with his band, the Folk Pistols, arrives at the show with not one but two new records, his first since 1998's "Strange Paint." "Mosquitoville (revisited)" has a light tropical folk feel, inspired by Burrito's brief stint living in Key West, Fla. "Lo-Fi World" is more like a New Wave/cabaret record, a la Bowie, with synthesizers and drum tracks. " 'Lo-Fi World' is darker and more cinematic and has a theme running through it. It kind of jumps around [musically]. You never know where it's going, and it's kind of bluesy in a way," Burrito says. " 'Mosquitoville' is more like a collage. I worked on songs with people long distance, and we sent tapes through the mail. It's like a time warp." On the title track of "Lo-Fi World," Burrito sings, "No money to make that next CD/so I'll go to the garage and record it for free," and that was the philosophy behind making the record. "I had such a small budget," he says, laughing. "I had to pay the musicians with pizza. They were kind to help." Frenchy Burrito, center, and the members of his Folk Pistols, from left: Rob Rizzuto, Jay Constable, Heather Spearline and Dan Dubois. The songs kept coming, his own as well as covers of Bob Dylan's "Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)," Tom Waits' "The Heart of Saturday Night" and the Johnny Ray hit "Cry" (which, he says, was his first musical memory as a child). "It's been like five years since I put out ['Strange Paint']," Burrito says, "so there are 28 songs on the two albums. I must have recorded 33 or 35. I kept doing it until I ran out of gas. Then I thought, why not make two and make up for the space in between?" One of the highlights for Burrito is "Homestead," a ballad that rides on a Latin guitar line as it delves into the bloody history of the town. "I've lived over here for 20 years. It's my home," he says. "I've seen it from the mills still standing to the transformation that it's made. I owed it to Homestead to write a song about Homestead." Burrito says he sent the two records overseas where radio is not so "Clear Channelized," and he's gotten some airplay in countries such as Ireland and Belgium. Getting heard, he says, is more important than recouping the small investment he put into the twin records. "After all these years I'm not really in this for the money. I believe in free expression, and I'm glad I can play this music and get it heard. It's fine if it makes money and fine if it doesn't. That," he says laughing, "is my existential approach to the music industry." -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Scott Mervis can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-2576. Dan played the Latin guitar line on the song "Homestead".