Raul Espinoza - Conductor of the Mind Fry Orchestra

Born in the slums of Rio de Janeiro Raul never learned an instrument. His family was too poor to be able to afford what would have been an extreme luxury. Still Raul loved music and took it in whenever he could. A job as an errand boy when he was 8 allowed him to get a Walkman CD player to listen to music. He relied heavily on the libraries as his source of music although shop lifting also came in useful. He also used the libraries as a source of obtaining musical scores. He was particularly drawn to classical and orchestral music, although he also has a passion for jazz and various folk music from around the world, he found if he listened to a piece of music whether it was Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, Copeland or one of a slew of composers he loved, that he could follow along with the music while looking at the score. “I thought this was normal, it just made sense to me, I could hear the sounds and see on the page in front of me the notes and they were one in the same to me.”
Of course this led him to his highly unorthodox self taught way of conducting. He was able to get experience with small community and independent orchestra’s and but he always ran into a wall with any ‘serious’ orchestra. He had no credentials and could not even get an audition or even a meeting with anyone from a “serious” orchestra. In early 2014 he was in Cleveland and came across a small bar called The Barking Spider. Playing that night was John McGrail and Raul sat in the back sipping red wine and listening. He found he liked this man’s ‘folk’ music, plus the fact that he gave out this wild trophy to the Person of The Year, though he wasn’t sure what that entailed. It seemed like they were all having a good time. When the set ended he introduced himself and purchased a CD. When John was done packing up his gear he sat and got a Guinness and asked Raul to join him and they continued their conversation. Raul mentioned that he was a conductor though he was presently without work and just paying the bills as a valet at one of the hotels downtown. He explained his very unorthodox approach and how he had taught himself how to conduct. John was impressed although as a ‘folky’ he didn’t really need Raul's skills. Still they exchanged contact info and Raul didn’t think anything more of it.
Then in 2016 Raul received a phone call from Lisa Sue Dannon requesting a meeting between him and J. Kinslow McGrail, the president of Mind Fry Enterprises. He recalled Mind Fry from the CD he had bought from John and the crazy trophy they’d given out that night. He wasn’t sure what it was about but it certainly didn’t seem like anything bad so he told Linda Sue he would be delighted and that was the beginning of the Mind Fry Orchestra.
You see J. Kinslow had been thinking of putting this together for use by Babakar Wade and the Headwhiz Consort. He knew that in addition to his experimental world jazz Babakar also wrote a fair amount of music that would incorporate the elements of an orchestra. Being a small organization with a whacked out name The Cleveland Orchestra laughed at him when he approached them with the idea of working with the Consort. While offended he resisted the urge to burn down Severance Hall and set about forming his own orchestra. “Fuck them” he told John and Lisa Sue. “I didn’t want them anyway.... uppity bastards.” It was then that John suggested he talk to Raul, this guy I met at one of my Spider gigs. He’s a self taught conductor. Perhaps he can help you.” and he gave Linda Sue his contact info he had saved since that night at The Spider. Well that was the beginning of a wonderful relationship between Mind Fry and Raul Espinoza. With the release of SAD  in the new year we at Mind Fry would like to introduce the Mind Fry Orchestra under the adequate* baton of Raul Espinoza


* Raul insists on the use of the term “adequate” to describe his skills as he does not wish to diminish his ‘professional’ colleagues who have been formally trained!

 

Cleveland October 21, 2017