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A musician lucky enough to have a daring, original idea usually runs with it. Frank Rogala crawled. In , Rogala watched Dinah Shore belt out a brassy on TV and was struck that a woman could blithely sing the boy part in boy-girl love songs but that a man crossing gender lines would raise eyebrows, smirks and worse. Rogala decided to try it, anyway. He has faced club audiences for 20 years as the front man of struggling, do-it-yourself grass-roots bands. Mainly, he got sidetracked by years of striving for rock success by more conventional means. He and his younger brother, Vince, started a techno-pop band called Exude in their hometown of Mackinaw, Mich.
In , the Rogala brothers and their longtime bandmate, Robin Canada, began working with a novice film director on a feature-length documentary examining the long odds of making it in the music business. Director Dov Kelemer said the film is almost done and he expects to soon seek distribution and opportunities to show it at film festivals. The experience shattered any illusions the musicians had about success being just one lucky break away. Consequently, NC has not played in four years. Rogala first threw himself into work on the documentary. Off the shelf came the pet idea he owed to Dinah Shore.
In a recent interview at his house in a nondescript tract but lent secluded character thanks to high hedges and an oasis-like koi pond in the frontyard, Rogala acknowledged it is more difficult to talk about bisexuality in a mainstream newspaper than in the gay press interviews he has done. After noting that it was vital that nobody feel he had made his album as a mere joke or novelty, he submitted some plainer, if complex, facts:. I started looking for the most pathetic, codependent, sick, politically incorrect songs, and I took it from there.
His brother, Vince, started tuning in oldies radio and passing on song possibilities that would fit the concept. As co-arranger, Canada helped perform radical surgery on the famous hits chosen for the album. Rogala drastically reworked all of them to achieve an aura of abject, suffering romanticism. Rogala sings in a grainy, low, theatrical voice that sometimes brings to mind Nick Cave or Lou Reed. In a masterstroke, Rogala redeems the by respecting its profession of love, warped as it might be.
I wanted to leave you feeling good with a positive song at the end. It was an old Exude song I could never get Vince and Robin to record. Susan Frazier, general manager of Goldenrod Music, which specializes in distributing music of gay and lesbian interest, says Rogala faces an uphill struggle. Frazier likes what Rogala has done musically but declined to distribute it because of her doubts that it can sell.
Frank is trying to attract a mainstream audience and at the same time grab the gay audience. Broadway, Suite , Anaheim CA. Robertson Blvd. Mike Boehm is a former arts reporter and pop music critic for the Los Angeles Times. All Sections. About Us. B2B Publishing. Business Visionaries. Hot Property. Times Events. Times Store. Facebook Twitter Show more sharing options Share Close extra sharing options.
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