Larry Elefante’s Music Is a Gumbo of Flavors

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The music of Larry Elefante – aka Michael Rutushin – has a bit of New Orleans in it.

But while Rutushin acknowledges the influence, he’s quick to point out that it’s born of obsession. He’s not trying to copy the good-timey jazz of The Big Easy. It’s just one part of his palette.

Late last year, Larry Elefante released “King Cake,” a six-song EP of New Orleans classics that was recorded in 2020 during the pandemic when live music was on hold.

Intended as a stand-in for the annual Mardi Gras show the band used to do in Athens, Ohio, the release is like a French Quarter party with a flurry of horns.

Larry Elefante will offer a taste this Saturday when the band performs at 7 p.m. at the Federal Frenzy rock festival, downtown.

From its earliest days, horns were always a part of Larry Elefante’s sound, which ranges from Southern jam band to old-school Nashville and everything in between.

“We embraced the spirit of New Orleans, at least, without actually being of it,” Rutushin said. “We’re trying to authentically honor it without being an imposter. Personally, I love it.”

Larry Elefante is a band, but it’s more accurately described as a collective of players with a love for American roots music.

“When it’s just me performing, I’m Larry Elefante,” explained Rutushin. “When I have a whole band, the whole band is Larry Elefante.”

For the Federal Frenzy show, the band will also include Owen Davis (drums), Andre Ptichkin (bass), Nick Frank (guitar) and Lexi Kay and Kari Ann Rutushin on vocals. As is usually the case at an Elefante show, a few other musicians will be pulled in. Expect a horn or two, and maybe even a harmonica.

“We have a pool of musicians to pull from for each show, and there’s always players floating in and out [of the show],” Rutushin explained. “We have to construct a band for each show.”

Saturday will be a busy day for Larry Elefante, as the band has performances scheduled in the morning at the Record Store Day event at the Record Connection in Niles.

Looking ahead, Rutushin said to expect some new music.

“We have several songs ready for release, but haven’t set any specific dates,” he said. “We’ll probably release between one and three songs later this year.”

Federal Frenzy will take place from 2 to 11 p.m. in the street and the lots between Penguin City Brewing and Youngstown Flea, downtown. There will be two outdoor stages and two indoor stages, both inside Penguin City.

Larry Elefante will perform at 7 p.m. on the Summit FM Stage, which will be in the Pollock Ballroom, at the rear of the Penguin City building.

Chicago-based rapper Mick Jenkins will headline the festival, with a 10 p.m. slot on the main stage.

Admission is free.

Federal Frenzy Schedule

Main Stage

  • 3-3:40 p.m.: Candace Campana;
  • 4:10-4:50 p.m.: The Goners;
  • 5:20-6 p.m.: Indré;
  • 6:30-7:10 p.m.: Fine Young Men;
  • 7:40-8:20 p.m.: LVRBOY;
  • 8:45-9:30 p.m.: Fifth & Aurora;
  • 10-11 p.m.: Mick Jenkins.

The Jambar Stage

  • 2:30-3 p.m.: Unc D;
  • 3:40-4:10 p.m.: Shelby Olive;
  • 4:50-5:20 p.m.: Riley Burke;
  • 6-6:30 p.m.: Demos Papadimas;
  • 7:10-7:40 p.m.: Rolling Boxcar International.

Penguin City Taproom Stage (indoors)

  • 2:30-3 p.m.: CPA Jake;
  • 3:30-4 p.m.: Sedona;
  • 4:30-5 p.m.: Dom Deshawn;
  • 5:30-6 p.m.: Madame Marlowe;
  • 6:30-7 p.m.: Speedo Agreedo;
  • 7:30-8 p.m.: East 9th.

Summit FM Stage (indoors)

  • 3-3:30 p.m.: Brooke Surgener;
  • 4-4:30 p.m.: Rami Feinstein;
  • 5-5:30 p.m.: Katy Robinson and the Wanderers;
  • 6-6:30 p.m.: Marc Lee Shannon;
  • 7-7:30 p.m.: Larry Elefante;
  • 8-8:45 p.m.: The Comonheart.

Pictured at top: Michael Rutushin, center, and the band Larry Elefante.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.