© Submitted photo
Michael Fracasso should feel right at home in Norris Point over the next few days.
The Austin, Texas musician and chef will be taking part in the eighth annual Trails, Tales and Tunes Festival that starts today and runs until May 25.
Fracasso spoke with The Western Star from Montreal on Wednesday. After a slight delay and an overnight in St. John’s he was to arrive in Deer Lake on Thursday.
Tonight he’ll be among the lineup for the festival’s opening concert at the town hall starting at 7:30 p.m.
Fracasso said this will be his first time visiting Newfoundland.
His participation in the festival came about after he met organizer Shirley Montague at the Folk Alliance in Toronto last winter.
“And she heard me play and liked my music,” said Fracasso. “She also found out that I wrote a cookbook that same year and that I have a degree in environmental science.”
Put that all together and the folk musician fits the bill perfectly for a festival that celebrates all that Gros Morne National Park has to offer in terms of nature, the trails and the tunes and tales of the various performers.
“I think that that’s pretty much why I’m part of this festival, so I’m really excited about it,” said Fracasso.
Fracasso said he’s been playing music for many years, starting back in college.
He worked in forestry for a while after graduating, but his heart wasn’t in it.
“I kept going to clubs at night and realized that I wasn’t doing really what I wanted to do,” he said.
Seven CDs later he’s still making music and performing and sometimes combining that with his third career, that of being a chef.
“I didn’t cook at all growing up, period, like nothing,” he said.
His parents though were great cooks.
“Especially my mom,” he said. “And when I moved away I missed eating well, so I started collecting recipes.”
The more he cooked the more he realized it was something he could do.
“It filtered through me. I really got it.”
Over the years Fracasso said people would ask him if he ever wrote a cookbook.
Last year he broke his hand and had to take a break from performing.
“And decided that was the time to focus on writing, finishing that book I was working on,” he said.
The result is “Artist in the Kitchen: A Brief Autobiography in Food.”
While he’d never heard of Gros Morne or the festival before the invite, Fracasso said it took no convincing to get him to make the trip.
“I love to travel. It’s just so exciting,” Fracasso said. “It’s going to new places and meeting new people.”
To prepare he admits he’s done a bit of research.
“I looked it up online and it’s just fantastically beautiful,” he said.
Besides tonight’s concert, Fracasso will be performing as part of the The Chain Gang — the four Michaels — with Michael Burnzynski, Michael Jerome Browne and Michael McDonald at the Bonne Bay Marine Station on Sunday from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. and at the Lobster Cove Lighthouse on Monday from 10 a.m. to noon.
He’ll also act as guest chef for a couple of Italian feasts at Chanterelles Restaurant in the Sugar Hill Inn on Saturday and Monday.