Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush:
Rock Solid at Mexicali Live!
A SoundPress.net Archive Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

Guitar master Frank Marino and his band Mahogany Rush performed at Mexicali Live in Teaneck, New Jersey on July 23, 2008, playing their own unique brand of classic and hard rock heavily blended with the blues.

Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush in Concert

Frank Marino was born in Montreal, Canada, growing up during the height of Hippiedom listening to The Beatles, The Doors and others. Frank played drums as a child, yet, his musical destiny was shaped by a bad LSD trip that landed him in the hospital. During his recovery Marino found solace in the guitar and would become a master of the instrument. At that time, he was listening to a lot of Jimi Hendrix because the music matched what he was going through at that time. Frank's guitar style was shaped and has often been compared to the Master of the Stratocaster. Rumors have prevailed that the sprit of Jimi somehow found its way into Frank who was a teenager at the time of Hendrix's death.

Frank recorded his first album Maxoom at age sixteen. He produces his own records and often plays most of the instruments. Marino has many collaborations, live performances and CDs to his credit but remains under the musical radar. Frank has a faithful following. In fact, his official website was created and is run by a fan. The band members in Mahogany Rush have changed during the years but Frank's sizzling, soulful skills have remained a constant through the music. Interestingly, Marino is an Orthodox Christian when not conjuring up the ghost of Hendrix.

Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush in Concert

Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush promptly took the stage - which was packed with amps, instruments and effect pedals - at nine and astounded the mostly male audience for the next three hours. Frank looked very much the rocker with his long dark hair, black leather pants and boots. But the proof is in the playing and Marino fronting a four piece (bassist, drummer & guitarist) demonstrated that he a musical force to be reckoned with.

The band opened strong with a loose interpretation of "Voodoo Child" that was ballsy and bluesy filled with bold rhythms that accelerated Frank's fast, fabulous fret work. The song took a number of musical turns with the tempo slowing and building momentum. Behind the stage was a liquid motion backdrop (popular in the 60's) that throbbed to the band's blistering beats and Marino's intricate and intense licks.

Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush in Concert

The second jamming jaunt was funky mixing vocals that expanded and contracted with Frank's concise chord changes. Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush buzzed for quite some time on "King Bee" melding the blues with hard rock. The rhythms were blazing and the leads lush as they segued into "Backdoor Man" for more expansive instrumentation. Up to this point, Frank, favoring a Gibson SG, was very straight forward in his approach, not using a lot of tricks and limited effects, yet his playing was dynamic with tight textures and tones.

"He's Calling" was propelled by the percussion as Marino picked precise sounds from his strings before getting a tinny effect from the instrument by playing below the bridge. The tune had a Middle-Eastern vibe. Meanwhile, the liquid artwork was still very much a part of the show. The music progressed through a magical muse with mesmerizing beats. The supporting guitarist (Avi Ludmer) switched to an electric violin enhanced by eerie effects that at times sounded like a guitar. Marino sort of scratched his strings for weird tones. The violin was colorful as the vast jam progressed culminating with dramatic pauses and a climatic close.

Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush in Concert

"Red House" started with a soulful solo by Frank before the rest of the band joined in for a rich, robust interpretation of the blues classic. It's hard to remember where the next song started as the jam moved in many dense, dynamic dimensions that included vibrant, electric violin with edgy tones. The pace quickened as they played parts of "She's Not There", "Crossroads" back to "She's Not There", mixed in with other classic rock songs. The montage was amazing with it's skillful covers that were singular in speeds and styles. Bassist Marc Weber was beguiling all night with his bold bass lines and solid pacing.

The barrage continued as more multi-dimensional jams with circling chord structures and changes mixed with vocals, lightning runs and rocking rhythms emerged. The bassist and guitarist left the stage leaving drummer (Dave Goode) to boldly back Frank who played deep and darker riffs. Marino soared with sizzling speed yet the sound was sharp merging into a coda of "Cat Scratch Fever" then returning to his signature shredding.

Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush in Concert

The drum solo was diverse and dramatic before the band returned to jam moving into "Break On Through" and later Hendrix's "Third Stone From The Sun". Frank's effects and whammy work was spot on and it is clear why the comparisons and rumors have prevailed. Some of the sounds coming from the guitar were un-worldy and the whah-whah effects were wicked. Moving into a darker realm, Frank slid his hand down the whole neck of the guitar for a haunting, harrowing Star Wars sound which drove into a thunderous noise like a motor cycle. The music switched to a slower style and meandered into a stirring rendition of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow".

Finishing up the three hour set, Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush performed a heavy and heavenly version of "Amazing Grace" and there was no need for an encore as the lights went up on a rock solid show.

Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush in Concert

Related Links: For more information on Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- MahoganyRush.com | MexicaliLive.com

Frank Marino Mahogany Rush CD

(Originally Published on July 24, 2008)

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