Second Hand Smoke
Louie Lucchesi Louie Lucchesi is a singer/photo-artist living in Milwaukee, WI. After working exclusively in photography for a number of years, the release of Second Hand Smoke (SHS) marks his long awaited return to music. After high school Louie moved to NYC to pursue art and music. In 1980, armed with a borrowed camera, Louie set out to document the amazing visual wonderland of NYC street-art. While the graffiti scene was exploding and artists like Keith Haring were becoming sensations, Louie focused on street-posters and spent five years working on the POST NO BILLS series of photographs. Some of these pictures began to appear in various group shows around NYC, primarily in the EAST VILLAGE. Combining his love of photography and music, Louie began working in concert photography as well and was soon published in both SPIN magazine and The New York Times. During this period Louie studied photography at the School of Visual Arts as well as working at Horner Photo, a legendary architectural photography studio in Manhattan. With music his first love, and with his band Blue and Red, he started to perform at some of the worlds most famous and notorious clubs including CBGB's, Tramps and The Bitter End. He also co-authored seminal alt-country legend Kristi Rose's anthem Let's Make History. Louie returned to Milwaukee in 1990 and along with Rich Thomas, guitarist for NYC underground legends FLOORKISS, immediately formed the group CRIME FAMILY, releasing one critically acclaimed recording RUNNING IN THE RAIN. With the breakup of CF and the illness of his mother Louie once again picked up his camera and dove into the world of photo-art. Documenting the house he grew up in through a series of unadulterated snapshots entitled 'PHOTOGRAPHS FROM HOME' he achieved his greatest success yet in his photo career when two of these photos were entered into the permanent collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum. Louie continues to work on a number of series of photos. SECOND HAND SMOKE is a transitional record for Louie. While still a rock record, it marks a move from the grittier street-rock of Crime Family to a more pop/interpretive direction with it's focus clearly on vocals. It's for this reason that Louie decided to record seven songs by other artists. He wanted songs that not only challenged him vocally but that suited his voice perfectly. Once described as 'a cross between Lou Reed and Lou Rawls' Louie's roots are clearly in the 70's. Showing a wide range of musical tastes he covers such diverse artists as 'Jeff Buckley, Jimmy Gnecco (Ours) and Nil Lara' to 'Todd Rundgren and Roxy Music'. Louie performs around Wisconsin with his band 'Brother Louie'. IN REVIEW Louie Lucchesi Second Hand Smoke Louie Lucchesi has sung for years with Milwaukee rock bands, honing a voice capable of registering doubt, regret and pain as well as ecstasy. For his new CD, he collected some of the city's crack players--including guitarists Mike Hoffmann, Jeff Hamilton and Scott Finch, cellist melaniejane and drummer Bo Conlon--and handed them a few of his favorite songs. Some, including two of the standouts, are his own. The rest come from diverse sources, including Jeff Buckley, Jimmy Gnecco (whom many compare to Buckley), Roxy Music and Todd Rundgren. Second Hand Smoke balances romance with swagger, rock chops with rock abandon. Lucchesi's lyrics tend toward the cinematic. The narrator of 'Adrenaline' has pushed 'beyond control, beyond pain' as chemicals shoot through his system and images from old movies flicker in his mind. 'Eyes Don't Lie' indicts TV news and the Bush administration (while applauding great filmmaking), as it's great, gently rolling melody builds to a powerful refrain about the unmistakable signs of truth and deceit. It's a marker of Lucchesi's generous spirit that he covers one of the greatest songs ever written by a Milwaukeean, Mike Frederickson's 'Rope of Desire' (originally recorded in the early '90s on a Mosleys' CD). The solemn Americana beat and grave lyrics suggest young John Fogarty at the peak of his game; the rueful words consider the tangle of desire that can bind even the strongest person to the misery of failed love. --Dave Luhrssen, Milwaukee's Shepherd Express 12-18-03 Louie Lucchesi Second Hand Smoke by Rob McCuen Fans of late 80s and early 90s local rock may remember Louie Lucchesi as the frontman of the sublimely slick and criminally overlooked "Crime Family," an assemblage of hot-shot local players who brought a slice of Roxy Musicesque pop to our fair city. Then as now, Louie Lucchesi gets my hands down vote as this city's best kept secret. I'm tellin' ya, this guy is a singer, a vocal stylist whose prowess with his pipes is matched only by his song writing skills. When he's not flexing his flair for melody and poetic lyricism, Lucchesi showcases his ability to root out a fantabulous pop song. Todd Rundgren, Bryan Ferry, and the Mosleys' own Mike Fredickson, are among the tunesmiths that get a tip from Louie's hat, and in all cases, he bends and shapes their creations and makes them his own. Fredickson's "Rope of Desire" and Roxy Music's hit, "Love is the Drug" are especially brilliant. Mike Hoffman and Scott Finch took turns producing, which makes the disc sonically spotty in places, but crack performances by such local stalwarts as Jeff Hamilton, Rich Thomas, Paul Ryan, Bo Conlon, Chris Lehmann, and brother Joe Lucchesi more than save that slight flaw.