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The Franky Perez tour: A bike, a mic and 4,000 miles

Updated August 26, 2020 - 12:45 pm

The guitar might be acoustic, but Franky Perez is forever plugged in.

The Las Vegas singer/songwriter/musician has capped a 12-day, cross-country tour, rumbling on a Ducati motorcycle toting not much more than his guitar and ample talent. Perez dubbed the odyssey “The Crossing the Great Divide Tour,” celebrating his latest album, “Suddenly 44.” The new album is a testament to Perez’s age, and how fast he got there.

Perez launched the project from the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign on July 12, rambled to the Viper Room and Rock Store in L.A. and took off for parts uncharted. He covered some 4,000 miles, covering 12 states before closing out in New York City.

“It was really personal,” Perez says. “It’s one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.”

That comment is to be taken seriously. Perez has jammed with Slash. He’s toured with the cello-rock outfit Apocalyptica. He’s recorded for the FX series “Sons of Anarchy,” and for a time fronted the all-star rock band Camp Freddy.

For this trip, Perez needed only enough support to be able to complete the tour.

“This was 100 percent about being of service,” Perez says. “We wanted to bring live music to people who wanted to hear it, and we wanted to do it safely. I played alleys, sidewalks, porches, venues, bridges, health care facilities, corn fields, lobbies, parks, parking lots.”

The concept came about organically. Perez had just finished “Suddenly 44” two weeks in to the COVID shutdown. He envisioned packing a guitar, hopping on a motorcycle and delivering music to live-music venues across the country crippled by COVID. He’d play socially distant shows in those shut-down clubs. He’d strum and sing anywhere on the tour, on the side of the road and at truck stops, even.

A motorcycle mystery tour, if you will. His instrument was a fine conversation-starter.

“Sometimes when you’re on a motorcycle, it can be intimidating, but not so not much when you have a guitar on the side of the bike,” Perez says. “That opened conversations, I would tell people I was on a little music tour, then pull out the guitar and start to play.”

Perez packed strategically: enough PPE to get through the ride, a change of clothes, one guitar and his voice. He didn’t bother with even a microphone. Perez just needed the right bike.

Perez contacted his friends at Ducati, who loved the idea of furnishing the transportation for the event and showing off their product (the tour ended at the Ducati plant in New York). Perez also picked up sponsorship support from Martin guitars — he traveled with a single acoustic — with a customized case made by Danny Coker of Count’s Kustoms of Las Vegas.

Perez and traveling partner, photographer and videographer Sam Schneider booked accommodations on the way. “We had a basic itinerary, but we didn’t book any room until I got to a city. The whole thing was everyone needed to be safe, from the facilities, venues, ourselves.”

Perez played a number for fellow bikers at South Street Bridge in Philadelphia. He unpacked the guitar for a handful of folks in otherwise closed clubs. He visited health care facilities for residents closed from the public. He played for strangers on the street, and when he stopped for gas.

View this post on Instagram

Its here! I’m so happy to finally be able to share this with all of you. A HUGE heartfelt thank you to my partners that made this journey possible @ducatiusa @martinguitar @hoffee_cases @belstaff @cardosystems @isleepwhenidie @phil_readjr @countskustoms #dannykoker @adamspolishes and CFG. Special thanks to @badbeard for an amazing job! @tommyisblack @theviperroom Repost from @ducatiusa • Musician @frankyperezofficial tours his new album “Suddenly 44” from Las Vegas to New York on a uniquely customized Multistrada 1260 S Grand Tour fitted with carbon-fiber Hoffee guitar case to protect his Martin Guitar. When lockdowns forced music venues to close Franky partnered with Ducati to create “Crossing the Great Divide Tour” an aspirational journey to share live music wherever he could. Documented along the way this eight-episode series highlights his unique journey. Watch the first episode "New Bracelets" and visit Ducati.com to see the whole series. Franky’s new album Suddenly 44 is available now on all platforms.

A post shared by F R A N K Y P E R E Z (@frankyperezofficial) on

Perez and Schneider have chronicled the adventure for an eight-part video series on his @FrankyPerezOfficial Instagram page and also the Ducati.com site. The first installment, Perez’s visit to L.A., posted Tuesday.

Perez plans to be back at it in October, starting from New York, rumbling to Florida, and crossing the country again, from the southeast back to his hometown.

The plans might change, but Perez’s passion won’t. He’s adapted to digital and virtual platforms — especially during COVID — but still says, “There is no substitute for the live experience.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats! podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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