Franklin's Wheel

music that takes you on a journey

Franklin’s Wheel creates music that takes you on a journey, through various moods, sounds and textures—from soothing ambiance to dynamic crescendos and percussive, upbeat grooves. The music created by Franklin's Wheel is filtered through influences that include Miles Davis, Steely Dan, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report, and Santana. The band’s music is arranged to allow room for musical freedom and exploration, so no two Franklin’s Wheel performances are alike.

Franklin’s Wheel is a jazz/rock fusion jam band from Miami, FL, featuring Juan Gil on vocals, Mike Matthews on guitar, Paul Messina on sax and flute, Brian Smith on keyboard, Jian Beckford on bass, Robert Barcelo on drums, and Rey "Conga" Diaz on percussion. The band was born out of a desire to explore jazz/rock fusion in a contemporary alternative rock/jam band format that pays homage to the rootsy fusion sound of the 1970s. The band members are all seasoned veterans of the South Florida music scene and beyond, and bring their diverse influences together in a unique blend of styles. 

The members of Franklin's Wheel all come from different backgrounds with different influences; hopefully the blend of these different backgrounds and influences help make their music unique.  They each contribute to the sound of Franklin’s Wheel. When they first got started the goal was to create a jazz/rock fusion jam band.  They were originally focused on instrumental jazz jams and experimenting with improvisation.  After a couple of line-up changes they were able to get the right group of people together. With this current line-up the band has been able to focus on songwriting (as opposed to just jamming) as well as on incorporating rock and Latin influences. The bottom line is they all play for the love of the music and are grateful to be able to do what they love doing. Influenced by the sounds of Miles Davis, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report, Al Di Meola, classic rock like Santana, Hendrix, Stones, Beatles, and storytellers and poets like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Jim Morrison, Jeff Buckley, Bruce Springsteen, and Billy Joel. They are basically jazzier than the average rock band, but more rock than most jazz or fusion.

The band is currently working on their first full-length release called Now.  This will be a twelve-song set of original tunes plus their own interpretation of the standard “Summertime”.  Hopefully this will be done by early summer 2012. 

Mike and Juan do most of the writing. Juan says, “I have always loved storytellers like Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and many others. I enjoy writing songs about the human condition. I think stories about struggle, birth, joy, pain, and loss allow me—as a songwriter—to tell people that they are not alone. How often do we depend on music to cheer us up or to maybe confirm a fear or give solace for love lost? I want to do that with my songs.” 

Mike says, “I also try to tell a story or write with a particular message in mind.  I think it’s important to have something to say, something that will hopefully make people think.  I don’t think it’s exaggerating to say that humanity is at an important crossroads; now—more than ever—it’s important for people to look beyond their own self-interest and at the bigger picture.  I think artists like John Lennon have shown us that music can help people to do that.”

current project "Now"

The recording process for the current project, Now, has been an interesting mix of working in the recording studio and home recording.  They recorded the basic tracks (drums, bass and scratch tracks) at the Annex with Ferny Coipel from Humbert engineering.  The guitar, keyboard and sax/flute tracks were recorded over the last several months using their home recording set-ups.  For vocals and mixing they have gone back to the Annex to work with Ferny again.  Ferny’s been a big help to the band and has offered some great advice throughout the whole process. 

When asked about the effects of the Internet on the music biz, we got the following " The Internet has been negative in that it has allowed the downloading of countless recordings without the artists being compensated.  It has been positive in that it allows an unsigned artist anywhere in the world to potentially be heard around the world just by posting a recording on a website.  We’ve had people in Europe and South America check out the Franklin’s Wheel website.  How cool is that? The music business seems to be moving more to DIY independent artists.  You really don’t need a record contract anymore, although you still need backers and sponsors.  It would be great to see more of a focus on creativity and originality, not in trying to produce a “product” that by appealing to the greatest demographic ultimately becomes bland, homogenized and crass. "

Franklin's Wheel hopes to create a real presence in South Florida and move beyond to a regional and national level.  They feel they are more of a “musician’s musician” type of band — not going for celebrity but for the opportunity for people to hear and hopefully appreciate their music, message and stories. The band loves performing for people and hopefully being able to make them forget their troubles for a little while.  Being in a position where they can express the things they think about in song form and with luck get other people to start thinking about the same things is a great way to reach fans.

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