Fri 12/21 @ 7:30PM
For decades guitarist Bob Frank has contributed to Northeast Ohio’s rich music scene.
After spending 18 years as leader of the bluegrass act Hotfoot Quartet, which played with local luminaries such as Robert Lockwood Jr., Wallace Coleman, Howard Armstrong and John Baldry, Frank joined popular outfit Blue Lunch more than two decades ago.
Even though he has recorded numerous band albums as a performer, producer and songwriter, the one thing missing from his career was a solo project. That recently changed with the release of his debut effort, True Stories and Outrageous Lies.
“I’d say I’ve been writing this album my whole life,” Frank said. “I’ve been thinking about doing it for a few years, so it’s been percolating around for a long time. I mean, why not? I’m not getting any younger. So I had the enthusiasm, and I couldn’t see waiting any longer.”
For True Stories and Outrageous Lies, which features 11 originals, as well as a cover of the traditional “Stavin’ Chain,” Frank was joined in the studio by local musicians Jen Maurer, Ray DeForest, Ron Jarvis, Bill Watson, Norman Tischler and Chris Burge.
While Blue Lunch is known for its combustible mix of blues, swing, boogie-woogie and horn-fueled rock ’n’ roll, Frank decided to take a stripped-down approach for his solo affair that captured an acoustic, prewar blues sound.
He points to the album’s lead track “Low Down Dirty Ways” being inspired by delta bluesman Bo Carter.
“It’s kind of my own take on the way he played,” Frank said. “It’s a song that could be written by Bo Carter, but isn’t. He has this really distinct style of playing that I really like.”
Other songs of note on the new CD include the slide-guitar driven “Dead Man’s Curve,” as well as a completely different take on Blue Lunch track “Chinese Knock-off,” which was originally recorded with a New Orleans funk sound but has been reworked into a blues piece.
“The last tune on the record, ‘Lucky So Far,’ is the last song I wrote for the record,” Frank said. “I just had my 65thbirthday, and I felt like sort of summing things up. So it’s a half tongue-in-cheek about getting to be this old. It’s country blues-style guitar playing and then there’s a brass band that comes in.”
Frank celebrates the new album with a Dec. 21 show at the BOP STOP at The Music Settlement. Having now officially crossed releasing a solo album off his bucket list, does the guitarist think he has another original release in his future?
“Yeah, I hope so,” Frank said. “I’d like to do more stuff in this style, and I’d like to do more solo work. I was afraid to do it for years. Then, I started doing a few things and people liked it.
“It’s just a whole different head space than playing with a band, especially a big band. It’s really nice when it’s just you, and you can explore the sound of one instrument.”
Regarding how listeners will know the difference between which songs on the new album are true stories and others are outrageous lies, Frank laughed, “Well, that’s the fun of it. You’ll have to figure it out. And sometimes they’re the same thing.”
[Written by John Benson]