MSF stands for Music Special Forces, but they are also the initials for Michael Salvatore Firicano, the leader of the band that he founded in 2010.
The band has had personnel changes through the years but has maintained a loyal and enthusiastic following, performing almost every weekend throughout Massachusetts and New England.
One of its recent performances at Eastie Pride Day at Pier’s Park was a homecoming for Firicano, an East Boston native who is the band’s lead vocalist and a guitar player.
MSF energized the crowd in a wide-ranging two-hour set on a beautiful summer day.
“That park is beautiful with a view right on the water,” said Michele DeForest, who joined the band two-and-a-half years ago as a lead vocalist. She has since added keyboardist to her resume.
The other members of MSF are Cliff Goodman, drummer, Roy Turner, guitar, and Ray Kelly, bass guitar.
“We’re a multi-genre band – we do everything: rock, pop, disco, dance, country, and it’s by both male and female artists. We do stuff like Heart, Whitesnake, Led Zeppelin, Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift,” said Firicano.
Each MSF performance is known for its concert-style intensity and high energy that gets the crowd rocking from the opening song. It is not uncommon to see band members going out in to the audience.
“We really take people on a musical journey,” said Firicano, who began his lifelong affinity for music at the age of 12. “I loved music and my family had a giant collection of all kinds of records. And I would just put them on and discover. And my older brother, too, would be getting me in to classic rock and things like that. I was definitely a Beatles fan and became a classic rock fan.”
In the 1990s, Firicano became a member of a cover band and then expanded his repertoire to other genres, eventually working alongside female singers.
Michele DeForest brings another dimension to MSF
Michele DeForest attended Rensellaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), one of the best engineering schools in the country. She received her degree in Electrical Engineering and currently works in the scientific field. She has lived in the Boston area for ten years.
While a student at RPI, the Long Island (N.Y.) native became a member of an a cappella group, the Rusty Pipes, who twice made it to the Northeast ICCA semifinals.
DeForest met Firicano through an online advertisement and the on-stage chemistry has brought the band to another level.
“Michele has been amazing,” said Firicano. “I think out of all the musical combinations I’ve been part of – she’s made it the best combination.”
Firicano said Michele stood out in the auditions for the band. “One of the other candidates was very, very good and she had been in a band and played the guitar, but there was something that I saw in Michele that made me go with Michele over someone with more band experience and I was really glad I went that way.”
Though this was her maiden voyage in to a band, DeForest has developed in to “a total natural,” according to Firicano. “If you see Michele perform, you think she’s been doing it for 25 years.”
Michele is enjoying her association with the
band. “They’re great – they put up with me always wanting to do the pop and
dance songs – that’s my wheelhouse,” said the attractive and personable singer.
“That’s what I bring, as far as diversity, to the band. With Ray (Kelly) coming
on and doing some keyboards – I took
piano lessons when I was younger – I’ve started to dabble a little bit with
keyboards, and the band has made me a little bit more confident.
“And Michael has been really supportive, whether it’s working with my schedule or finding gigs,” added DeForest.
A busy schedule
MSF followed up its Eastie Pride Day performance with a gig that very night at Brodies Seaport in Salem.
They have been averaging 4-5 appearances a month, recently appearing at Fort Revere Bastille Day in Hull. They were also a featured band at the International Sandsculpting Festival on Revere Beach.
They performed at Bill Ash’s on Revere Beach Friday.
“We always have a really great time and that’s like my home base,” said Firicano. “Growing up in East Boston there were never really any venues for bands, so I would go over to Revere, and Bill Ash’s was where I started playing my first cover shows in 1990 – and I’ve been playing there ever since.”
The band is also receiving gigs for private parties and weddings.
Lauding his bandmates
Firicano said in addition to Michele’s stellar contributions to the band’s increasing popularity, he is proud of the other members’ work.
“Roy Turner is from Gloucester and he’s a phenomenal guitarist, totally dedicated to his craft and lives for playing,” said Firicano. “When he’s not playing shows, he’s home practicing or making music videos to post on Facebook.”
Also getting a shoutout is Cliff Goodman of Salem, “a very talented drummer who plays all around the North Shore.”
“You’ll find Cliff at the local blues jams all the time,” said Firicano. “He’s totally dedicated to playing music.”
New band member Ray Kelly of Dudley started string bass at the age of 10. He played in the Greater Boston Youth Symphony from 1980 to 1984 and majored in Music and Sound Recording Technology at UMass Lowell.
“He used to work at Bose Corporation for many years,” said Firicano. “He’s a very qualified guy.”
(To learn more about MSF, please visit MSF Band Facebook).