Crowd-Pleasing Performances: Mike Firicano’s MSF Band Sparkles at Eastie Pride Day, Bill Ash’s Lounge

By the time Mike Firicano exploded into Boston’s mega-hit,“More Than A Feeling,” it was evident the large crowd at Bill Ash’s Lounge Saturday night would be firmly in the MSF Band’s hands for the entire show.

It’s that positive, crowd’s-totally-into-it reception that has fueled Firicano’s love of performing for decades. The MSF Band, which takes its name from its founder, Michael Salvatore Firicano, made its debut on Sept. 28, 2002.

At Bill Ash’s, the long-time popular establishment on Revere Beach Boulevard, where live music still rules on Saturday nights, Michele DeForest, the band’s electrifying female vocalist, offered a scintillating display of her vocal range and immense talent by delivering hit songs in succession from Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac (Rhiannon), Janis Joplin (Little Piece of My Heart), and Boston music legend Donna Summer (Hot Stuff), which resonated very well with the disco crowd.

DeForest poured into heart into each song during the four sets.

Ray Kelly on bass and keyboard and Roy Turner on guitar were in perfect synch with their bandmates, while Brad Voltero was killing it on drums.

Performing at Eastie Pride Day

An East Boston native, Mike Firicano, 53, said it was “amazing” for the band to perform at the 2022 Eastie Pride Day Aug. 20 at Pier’s Park.

“It’s such a great event for the community,” said Firicano. “They do an awesome job organizing it, and to perform in my hometown was exciting. My mother [Annamarie Firicano] was at Eastie Pride, and I’m sure she was proud. She’s always supported me since I was a little kid, and I did my first show at Shore Plaza on Border Street.”

Firicano began in music playing the drums before “my mother bought me a guitar from a Sears catalog.”

When Firicano’s previous band dissolved, he decided to form the MSF Band.

“I said, ‘you know what, tomorrow I’m going to start my own band and I’m just going to call it by my initials, MSF’,” he recalled. “I wanted to give a little tribute to my father, whose name is Salvatore.”

Firicano said he still writes and records music with DeForest, “and we put it out on iTunes and YouTube, and outlets like that.”

Firicano has tremendous respect for his bandmates. “Roy has always been a great guitarist and he’s become a giant force in our band. Ray does a really good job and has been integral to our success. The whole drum team is very, very good stylistically and rhythmically.”

The Dynamic DeForest Is an Electrical Engineer by Day

Michele DeForest, who joined the MSF Band in 2017. brings a unique background to her role as lead vocalist. She is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, one of the most prestigious engineering schools in the world. She works as an electrical engineer at semi-conductor company.

Her entrance into music was inspired by her family.

“I grew up singing in choruses and plays at school,” said Michele. “My family’s pretty musical. My mom sings. My dad and my brother play guitar. My parents, along with other family, were in a wedding band.”

In college, DeForest performed with an a cappella group for four years. “So, that was a big impact on my life. I have a lot of lifelong friends from that group.”

Michele, who grew up playing the piano and has branched into keyboards with the band,  said she’s benefited from MSF’s overall experience and dedication to its craft.

“I’ve learned a lot,” she said. “They’ve been great musicians to work with and learn from. Mike has taught me a ton about things – he’s been an awesome mentor. He’s a great leader and has helped give me guidance through the whole music scene, being in a band and leading as a frontperson. It’s been a great pleasure to work with and learn from Mike and all the people who have been in our band. They keep me motivated to want to be a better musician myself and continued to make the band better.”

Firicano said Michele is a “treasure” to the band. “Of all the female singers that I’ve worked with, she’s the best.”

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