Franklin “Chico” Welch has been a working composer and performer for over 25 years. In the early years of his career he traveled extensively throughout the United States and Mexico singing and songwriting while honing his skills as a fiddle, mandolin and guitar player. He drew from and expanded on his knowledge of R&B, Jazz, Country and Irish musical traditions, adding his own energy to each style. While in Mexico he played in the Brujos Band, led by trumpeter Luis Gasca who is renowned for his work with Santana, Malo and Janis Joplin, among others.
In 1984 he settled in Chicago and continued his work as a street musician and Irish fiddle player. He originated the “Open Jam Session” at the Abbey Pub, which quickly became a tradition in the city. He did the same at Celtic Crossings. In 1998 he recorded his first studio album, “Which Way to the Beach, Frank?”. This album highlights Chico’s musical diversity, being influenced by Little Feat and Celtic rock. Original compositions on this album include “Spoon River Reel” and “Gigi”.
In 1997 Chico began a partnership with drummer/guitarist Barry Capaul that became the Bucketboy Bluegrass Band. Their enormously successful partnership drew large crowds each day in downtown Chicago. The crowds repeatedly requested a CD of their work, and in 2000 they released “Live at Angel City”. This CD included another of Chico’s original compositions “Golden Eagle Rag”.
In recent years Chico has added Gypsy Jazz to his musical repertoire, forming the Econosize Swing Orchestra and the Tamarindo Trio. He continues to expand on his R&B roots, playing electric guitar with Professor John and his Big Hands Band, a New Orleans R&B band. His work as a composer has yielded several new songs including “Down in Louisiana”, “Django’s Shoes” and “ Orchata Y Tamarindo”. His most recent composition, “City that Care Forgot” was written in response to the crisis in New Orleans.