5 Questions: Micheal Faison

Micheal Faison

Micheal Faison

Micheal Faison helped organize Beacon’s first Juneteenth celebration, which will be held June 19 at Riverfront Park.

How did everything come together for the event?
I was actually at home and it just hit me that we need to do a Juneteenth festival. I called my niece, who is good at organizing. It’s going to feature my band and other local bands with Black artists, but it’s not just limited to Black artists, because my band is interracial. We’ll have Black entertainers, comedians, singers, dancers, poets — people doing whatever they do to be a part of the festival. Beacon 4 Black Lives also stepped in to help get the permits and that stuff. 

I never thought we would see this [Juneteenth celebrated as a national holiday] in my lifetime, but I’m glad we can start it here, and then the younger generations can keep it rolling. A lot of the Black folks who were born and raised here moved away, so we tried to reach out to them to come home for a day. And it’s not just for Black folks; it’s for anyone who wants to come have a good time. 

You’re known as “Bosco.” How did you get that nickname?
It came from a drummer named Randy Ciarlante who used to play with Levon Helm. We played at firehouses together when we were teenagers. I walked in one night and he said, “Ladies and gentlemen, here’s Bosco.” I said, “Who is Bosco?” and he said that was my new nickname. Back then I was designing clothes, so I went home and designed a silver spacesuit and wrote Bosco on the back and put a big ol’ Afro wig on. The next time we played a firehouse, I walked in with that Afro and silver spacesuit and it’s been going ever since.

When did you start performing?
I started when I was 8 or 9 in a family gospel group called the Stars of Bethlehem at Star of Bethlehem Church, which was here on Main Street. We won a competition at the Dutchess County Fair two years in a row; we also won at the state fair. From there, I was introduced to British rock ’n’ roll. We started a band called Kid’s Stuff and for five or six years, that’s what we did, all kinds of crazy rock ’n’ roll. 

In my 20s, I started a group called the New York Underground and we did the local clubs. But I dreamed bigger. I wanted to do cruise ships; I wanted to travel around the world. So we started Bosco and the Storm. We went to Israel, we went to the United Arab Emirates and played in Dubai, where we got the opportunity to perform for the crown prince. From there, we started doing cruise ships. I’m not done yet. I’ve still got five or six countries that I want to hit. The younger musicians that I have in the band now, they keep me young. 

I’ve always done something else at the same time. I worked at Wassaic Developmental Center for 10 years. I worked at Dia for 13 years. Then I just said, “I’m done with that.” I needed to play music completely. So I dedicated the rest of my life to it.

You were alive during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. What is your assessment of race relations today?
We still have a long way to go. In my world, being a Black entertainer, the clubs paid you less back then. Sometimes you couldn’t even get into certain clubs because they were afraid that a lot of Black folk were going to show up. But I would tell club owners to do their homework; when they would find that my following is mixed, or even predominantly white, that’s the way I got hired. 

I was at the Beacon neighborhood service organization on Main Street when we got the word that Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot. I was young, but I knew what he stood for. In the gospel group we had back then, the lead singer wrote a song called “Free at Last” that was dedicated to him. 

What advice would you give a young Black person?
Whatever your dream is — no matter what it takes — follow it. You can only win. I’ve never made it to the biggest of the big times. But I’ve been able to make a life and a career out of it. I’ve enjoyed every minute, and I’ve done more than most local bands do because I had a dream and I wanted to live that dream. I had parents who helped me live that dream, and now my kids are living theirs.

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