Berkshire native Michael J. Fabrizio feels at home playing 'Nashville' musician
NASHVILLE, TENN. — Viewers and fans of the hit ABC television show, "Nashville," may recognize a familiar face from the Berkshires in some upcoming episodes.
Richmond native Michael J. Fabrizio appears in three episodes of the current season; he appeared last Wednesday night in a brief opening scene, and will return in episodes that air at 10 p.m. Dec. 2 and 9. He'll also be back in the Berkshires to perform a Dec. 11 acoustic show at Hotel on North.
In an Oct. 7 Facebook post about being cast in the TV show, Fabrizio said portraying a Nashville musician "Shouldn't be too hard ... considering I'm living it! Looking forward to it though, should be fun!"
He filmed several scenes over the course of a week in October, portraying a member of character Gunnar Scott's (Sam Palladio) band.
Fabrizio, 32, is the son of Pittsfield pediatrician Michael A. Fabrizio and Kathy Fabrizio, and is a 2001 graduate of Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington. He also holds bachelor's degrees in criminology from Northeastern University and the University of Tennessee.
But for the past decade, he has been living and making music and art in the heart of Nashville. In addition to writing and singing, he plays piano, guitar and harmonica.
He told The Eagle, in a recent phone interview, that is was exposure through the Nashville's "48 Hour Film Project" that led to the television gig.
In 2012, he and his friend and co-writer, Patrick Raines, formed a band called Fabrizio and the Fever, which has a respectable 6,749 "likes" on Facebook. The two recently were awarded "Best Song" at the film festival for their previously unreleased song "Party With Us," which appeared in the film "Liquid Courage" by Opal Eyed Productions.
"It was a bigger event than I had imagined," Fabrizio said. "A few months later, one of the principal organizers of the film festival contacted me about ABC's 'Nashville.' Upon talking to the casting department I was advised I would be playing a 'musician type.'
Fabrizio wasn't allowed to take photos on the set or talk too much about the production. His scenes were filmed on production stages in East Nashville and on a slow-moving tour bus rambling down Highway 65.
"It was hot, uncomfortable but really a lot of fun, lots of jokes were made and there was great camaraderie among everyone," he said about the bus scene. "We were treated really well and made to feel like a big part of the process."
In addition to working with Director Mike Listo and his crew, Fabrizio filmed scenes with actors Sam Palladio (Gunnar Scott), Clare Bowen (Scarlett O'Connor), a new character yet to be disclosed, and he also did a scene with Charles Esten (Deacon Claybourne).
"The majority of the work was background stuff," said Fabrizio, who only caught himself briefly in the last episode.
But, he said, "I was super excited seeing myself. It was something that I really hadn't planned on doing and it was surreal when it all came together."
He said he expects for people to be able to see him more in the upcoming episodes.
But filming "Nashville," is only a fraction of what this real-life musician does on the city's music scene.
Over the past decade, he's also launched his own arts and entertainment production company, Red Roots Music LLC, pulling in and promoting fellow musicians and visual artists, from painters to photographers.
Fabrizio and the Fever spend Monday nights at Blue Bar where they present "The Midtown Masquerade," a showcase for up and coming artists. They also play the Hump Day Classic at Tin Roof Broadway and have had stints at Soulshine Pizza Co., Hard Rock Cafe, Bluebird Cafe and more. As a songwriter, Fabrizio also plays out four to five times a week at any club he can get in to.
When the "Nashville" television series debuted in 2012, Fabrizio admitted he and his colleagues on the music scene were skeptic. "We were like, 'This is BS, and it wasn't really the way it is.' But as seasons went on there was less and less ridicule about the show and more and more talk about the fact that this is portraying our city, the traveling, the camaraderie, the relationships you build and ones you lose."
Fabrizio is now catching up on the show himself, since his own filming experience. "Once I got on the set and saw the work that goes into the show and passion they have when they're doing it, regardless of how realistically they portray Nashville, I sort of fell in love with their passion."
As for his own career, Fabrizio continues to follow his own passions and interests, which include playing at multiple charitable events to raise funds for the Epilepsy Foundation, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Soles 4 Souls and more. In fact, he missed his "Nashville" television debut so he and his band could play an event to promote awareness of Parkinson's disease, in support of the mother of one of his collaborators, Patrick Raines.
He and Red Roots photographer Nichole Sims are also raising their young daughter, Annabella.
The year 2016 holds big for the artist, who plans on touring with Fabrizio and the Fever for their new album, "Head Theatre"; enlisting an agent to explore more acting gigs; releasing a collection of "dark poetry," as well as a three-part children's novel he calls, "A Dreamer's Dream."
To cap off 2015, he's making time for a homecoming show and meet-and-greet, scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 11, at Pittsfield's Hotel on North, featuring an acoustic trio playing original music and a few classic country covers.
Fabrizio said he's been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from friends and fans, near and far.
"I would also like to thank my mom, dad, sister Mia, Nichole and my daughter Anabella, and our dogs Pepper and Obie for their love and support through it all," he said. He said he's also found a lot of support from the Berkshires.
"There's nothing like it," he said. "Most people have seen me grow, and have stuck by me, which is something I've always wanted. I wanted people to be successful at what I did and for people to respect me for what I did, and I'm lucky I've been able to find that."
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