With a smooth, soothing tone and an innovative blend of bossa nova, jazz and pop, New York singer Fiona Frensche delights audiences in St. Pete Beach and surrounding areas. With experience in New York clubs, cruise ship shows, and a nine-year stint at The Thunderbird, Frensche plays Wine Down Wednesdays at 6 p.m. every Wednesday in December at the Grape Wine Cafe in St. Pete Beach. She has additional slots at Verducci’s and gigs with her own French Club this December. Frensche talked with The Gabber about her experience in the local music scene.
Did you come up with the name JazzyPopaNova?
Yes, I did. I worked on cruise ships for 10 years and I got introduced to jazz, to pop and to bossa nova. On cruise ships, basically 3% of us are Americans, and there are bands from Brazil and Eastern European bands, and of course, I’m the popster.
What do you hope to bring to the audience with Wine Down Wednesdays?
I’m from New York City and I played in New York City. I was very active in the art scene. It reminds me the most, at this point, of what I used to do in New York. As a musician, you’re only one part of the piece. The Wine Down Wednesdays feature authors, there’s a perfumer. The best part about it is bringing artists together. This is like a little more of a night nook, where you’re going to go and hopefully make new friends, but talk, hopefully talk about art, music and anything else.
How do you feel this scene is different from other scenes you’ve played, like in New York or on cruise ships?
So here, you’re developing relationships. Even at my jazz bars, I have people, it’s their fourth year back. On the ship, I was a transient, I was a nomad. And here, I’ve actually really put my feet into the ground, and it’s wonderful – as well as the musicians that work together. I just love our vibrant diversity in the music that we have here. With the jazz pools, and of course the pop bands, and the guitar bands, and the singer-songwriters. I mean if you come to our community, meaning Gulfport, meaning St. Pete Beach, you will find what you’re looking for. You can find anything.
Do you switch up your setlist for each event you play?
I would die of boredom if I didn’t. I think the training on a cruise ship teaches you to read the audience, and you can tell in their faces if they want to go that direction [rock n’ roll] or if they want to chill out and do bossa. It’s fun to mix it up; as musicians, it’s terrible to just do the same thing every night, and people read that immediately. They know when you start going on autopilot, they pick up on that. So no matter how many times I say I’ll never do Bobby McGee again, I’ll do it!
What are some words you would use to describe your voice?
Soothing, pleasant – but I can growl if I need to.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Yes! I go to the Nice Jazz Festival in France every year. I do have some gigs lined up, but I’m also bringing a 92-year-old woman that joined my French Club!