'The finest moments, naturally, are the ones in which sonic experiments and structural substance converge. Dougherty’s reverb on title track “Arson” means that as his solo progresses he finds himself in harmony with notes he played a bar ago, and he makes it sound sumptuous. Frankhouse does something of the same thing in an unaccompanied stretch of “Shadow of the Colossus,” though better still is the entry into his line of first Dougherty, then Butler and Arnold, as if beckoning for some beautifully and spontaneously choreographed dialogue. “Setting in Motian,” however, is probably Arson’s most transcendent moment. Guitar and saxophone turn a short, simple theme into a kind of moody melancholia that even Arnold’s throbbing bass and Butler’s insistent snare can’t dampen. It penetrates deep, with psychedelic streaks of backward guitar and quiet pitch bends making it weirder but also moving.'

Michael J. West, Washington City Paper

  • Nelson Dougerty \ guitar
  • Andrew Frankhouse \ saxophone
  • Stephen Arnold \ bass guitar
  • Keith Butler Jr. \ drums
  • --
  • tracked by Jack Kilby \ Crab Shack Music
  • mixed & mastered by Mike Pope \ Vatican City Sound
arson album cover


Washington DC-based ¡FIASCO! began as a collaboration between saxophonist Andrew Frankhouse and guitarist Nelson Dougherty in 2016. The group was first assembled in quintet format with a two-tenor front line, to perform a pair of concerts honoring Paul Motian at the historic Twins Jazz Club in Washington. After an enthusiastically received initial run, the group expanded its repertoire inspired by a variety of sounds including droning folk songs, jittery hip-hop grooves, teenage garage rock, and a variety of electronic and synthesized sounds.

‘Arson’, part one of a musical diptych slated for 2020, is the group’s first studio recording, and represents nearly four years of distillation and focus of this vision.

Guitarist Nelson Dougherty, who pens most of the compositions, demonstrates a mastery of the guitar itself as a vertical, textural phenomenon, as well as the possibilities presented by electronics and effects. His prowess here rewards repeated listening for hidden nuances and layers, and the overlap of lead and accompaniment.

Saxophonist Andrew Frankhouse provides the lead voice on most of the recording, with a sound focused and penetrating, warm and sensitive, and sometimes screaming and breaking up. Augmenting his tenor with electronics allows him to play a textural role unusual for a horn, often layering further upon Dougherty’s guitar, leaving the listener wondering which sounds come from whom.

Stephen Arnold’s electric bass provides a rock and roll urgency, with a keen ear for groove. Not satisfied to simply play a role, Arnold’s sound and articulation fit the needs of each composition, sometimes deep and woody, others with a punk rock distortion, pick attack, and attitude.

Drummer Keith Butler provides a breath and life to the music, attentive to the spirit the moment, patient where necessary but never afraid to play the role of bomb-thrower. He is equally adept at generating a flurry of activity without overplaying and knowing when the moment requires a single note, or nothing at all.

Drawing upon and subverting many sources and traditions, ¡FIASCO! explores a wide spectrum of sound, and their musicianship and range demands the audience and the band to keep their ears open, through near-silences and plaintive moments, and the screams, crashes, swirling delays, and dizzying obfuscations.





September 24-28, 2020

Washington DC Jazz Festival

Additional details TBC

Sunday, August 23, 2020 - 7:30p-8:30p

Blue House Productions | Live Streaming Concert

Saturday, March 7, 2020 - 9p-12a

SpacyCloud Lounge | no cover

2309 18th Street NW, Washington, DC

Sunday, January 12, 2020 - 7p-10p

Capital Bop Jazz Loft / Arson Album Release Show

Rhizome | $10 suggested donation

6950 Maple Street NW, Washington, DC

Sunday, June 30, 2019 - The Undercroft

The Undercroft | $10 suggested donation

2629 Hutingdon Avenue, Baltimore MD

Sunday, May 5, 2019 - 8p-11p

Twins Jazz | $10

1344 U Street NW, Washington, DC

Thursday, January 10, 2019 - 8p-11p

Twins Jazz | $10

1344 U Street NW, Washington, DC