You may not want to call him Francis, but Frank Orsini certainly won’t mind you calling him one of the hardest working musicians in South Jersey.
More than 20 years ago he formed “Don’t Call Me Francis,” one of the most successful cover acts to ever hit the tri-state area. The future may prove even stronger than the past, as the band has been expanding their appeal and approach.
“I became a frontman by default,” says Orsini, who has led the orchestra-sized ensemble since its inception. “My father was a trumpet player, and that’s really predominately what I do.”
As the leader of the group, the South Jersey native has seen the band go through several incarnations, but he feels the latest one is the strongest yet.
“We’re dealing with some fabulous musicians who are the best at what they do,” he says.
Speaking of individual members, Orsini positively beams with excitement and admiration of his bandmates.
“They are masters of their craft. We don’t even do setlists — we’ll walk into the party, count off an opening song, and away we go,” Orsini says.
Starting this week, Orsini and his team will be initiating a seasonal residency at the Revel Casino-Hotel’s The Social, a gig they’re extremely excited about.
“We’ve always been a rock band, but we’re more well-rounded now,” he explains. “We do 1970s dance, party jams and hits from the ’80s and ’90s. The band is really suited to entertain every age group. We can do Sinatra, as well as Katy Perry.”
In recent years, Don’t Call Me Francis expanded their repertoire drastically by adding female vocalists to the lineup. Mary Harris, a former backup singer for several national acts, originally joined as a fill-in drummer during an injury.
“She just came in, sat behind the drums and sang her ass off,” Orsini says.
Since then, Harris has moved from behind the kit to front and center, handling lead vocals on several numbers.
In an attempt to develop the versatility of the band, Orsini later added Candice Marie, who enhanced the female presence of the band twofold.
“We were at a point where we wanted to expand our vocals and our horizons,” Orsini says. “It all starts with vocals — if you have a great vocal section, you have a great band.”