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Thread: Frank Wakefield

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    Default Frank Wakefield

    One of the earlier bluegrass groups I listened to back in the '60s was The Greenbriar Boys, whose mandolin players included Frank Wakefield and, if memory serves, Ralph Rinzler. I was a big fan of Frank's work. But, as a relative newcomer to studying and learning to play the mandolin, I am curious how his work stands alongside artists like David Grisman, Sam Bush, Chris Thile, and one of my latest favorites, John Reischman. Also, as a relative newcomer, who else should I be listening to? Obviously, others would include Mike Marshall and Sierra Hull. But, I find myself really drawn to John Reischman and songs like "Cascadia". Oh, and considering that Brazilian bossa nova is one of my "guilty pleasures", I have learned to play along with various recordings of Manha de Carnaval and look forward to learning other bossa nova tunes, like "Corcovado" and "Desafinado". Anyway, the thoughts of experienced mandolinists would be most helpful and instructive. Thanks, y'all!! ....Old Dog Dave
    Old Dog Dave

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    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: Frank Wakefield

    Frank Wakefield is a super player. You'll find his creativeness in both his humor and his picking, absolutely on par with the other players you mention. At the same time, Frank's playing is definitely more rooted in the Monroe approach than Marshall's, Thile's or Hull's – while (most of all) Grisman, but also Bush certainly started out as Monroevians. I'd be very surprised, if all the players you mention were not fond of Wakefield's playing.

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    Jethro Burns

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    Default Re: Frank Wakefield

    “who else should I be listening to?“
    Bill Monroe - Bush, Grisman, Wakefield all listened to Bill Monroe. It all goes back to Mr Monroe.

    (Listen to Mike Compton as well…)

    Kirk

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    Default Re: Frank Wakefield

    Butch Baldassari also rooted in Bill Monroe's styles.

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    Default Re: Frank Wakefield

    I was a lucky enough to jam with Frank a few times, as he lives locally, he is a character to be sure, his playing is very "hard core" Bluegrass and very Monroe influenced. I agree he never reached the technical expertise of folks like Grisman, Marshall, Thile and Hull, but I don't think he was really interested in performing that kind of music.
    Monroe disciples include all mentioned above - I would also check out Mike Compton.
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    Default Re: Frank Wakefield

    Had the chance to meet Wake Frankfield a couple of times, character is putting it mildly but, a finer fellow would be hard to find. Shared a gig with him once, he used my mandolin for his “Get up John” tuning. What a guy! Would love to see him again.
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Frank Wakefield

    Unique in his humor and idiosyncrasies, but very rooted in traditional bluegrass. Some have called Wakefield the "wild man of bluegrass," but a lot of his stuff is just very competent Monroe-based picking.

    Then there are some of his solo mandolin instrumentals...



    His New Camptown Races, which he wrote while playing with Red Allen in the DC area, has become a real standard.
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    Default Re: Frank Wakefield

    One of my favourite recordings is Butch Baldassari playing Frank Wakefield's 'Waltz in the bluegrass' from Travellers album. The mandolin is played wonderfully well as is the guitar solo.

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    "Should I kick this one off, or do you want me to?"

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    Default Re: Frank Wakefield

    I got the teal album when it came out in 1972, after I saw Wakefield interviewed on David Frost's show, and I still play it a few times a year. His back-up band on that album included Tony Trischka on banjo, Russ Barenberg and Peter Wernick (!) on guitar, and Kenny Kosek on fiddle. As you can hear in Allen's link, the "Jesus Loves His Mandolin Player" instrumentals were pretty out there for the time. Forgive the heresy here, but my favorite piece on the album is "Hallelujah on the Fives," which Wakefield wrote as a banjo tune.

    Old Dog Dave, since you say that bossa nova is one of your guilty pleasures, you might take a peek down the choro rabbit hole.

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    Default Re: Frank Wakefield

    Trischka, Wernick and Barenberg were at the time affiliated with Country Cooking, a somewhat amorphous bluegrass band out of Ithaca NY. All have gone on to fame and fortune (insofar as these are available through bluegrass and related acoustic music), as did their bass player, now guitarist, John Miller and lead singer Nondi Leonard, who married Wernick and now uses the name "Joan."

    Ithaca at the time was a hotbed of acoustic music, generating bands like the Horseflies and Highwoods String Band. "Far above Cayuga's waters..."
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    Default Re: Frank Wakefield

    I saw Frank Wakefield with Don Stover in Ithaca in the late 60’s. I don’t remember anything about his playing but the group of spectators did not find his humor, which appeared to be based in the worst characteristics of southern culture, to be at all funny. The boos were much more audible than his playing. Perhaps he had an epiphany sometime later.
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    Default Re: Frank Wakefield

    No, Wake Frankfield has his own way of being irritating. It hasn't got much to do with being from the south.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Frank Wakefield

    I agree with the suggestion of John Reischman, who is more eclectic, but needs to be heard along with the others mentioned above. He plays a variety of styles and is also a composer of mandolin music. I also love the playing of David Benedict and Adam Steffey. There are too many! Love Baron Collins-Hill for traditional and fiddle tunes!
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    Default Re: Frank Wakefield

    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus CA View Post
    I got the teal album when it came out in 1972, after I saw Wakefield interviewed on David Frost's show, and I still play it a few times a year. His back-up band on that album included Tony Trischka on banjo, Russ Barenberg and Peter Wernick (!) on guitar, and Kenny Kosek on fiddle. As you can hear in Allen's link, the "Jesus Loves His Mandolin Player" instrumentals were pretty out there for the time. Forgive the heresy here, but my favorite piece on the album is "Hallelujah on the Fives," which Wakefield wrote as a banjo tune.

    Old Dog Dave, since you say that bossa nova is one of your guilty pleasures, you might take a peek down the choro rabbit hole.

    Thanks so much for sharing, Marcus!! Love that link. There's just something about Brazilian music that strikes a real chord with me.
    Old Dog Dave

    "The roots of music are embedded deep in the soil of human experience. The musician who taps those roots draws from life itself. That is the true 'soul man'." Old Dog Dave, from many years ago

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    Default Re: Frank Wakefield

    Thanks to all y'all for your thoughts and recommendations. Yep, it really starts with Big Mon. I saw him perform at the Milton Opry House in Culloden, WV about a year before he passed. He was in his 80s (81, I think) and had recently sprained his wrist (the right one, I think). But, he put on one heckuva show.
    Old Dog Dave

    "The roots of music are embedded deep in the soil of human experience. The musician who taps those roots draws from life itself. That is the true 'soul man'." Old Dog Dave, from many years ago

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    Default Re: Frank Wakefield

    I want to recommend the late Peter Ostroushko, who became famous as an early member of the Prairie Home Companion band. His work with other instruments,
    piano, cello, etc. is really special.

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    Default Re: Frank Wakefield

    Check out Andy Statman.

    I went to see Frank one time when I was back East. Nothing like hearing him play that Loar in his kitchen. That thing will hurt you.
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    Default Re: Frank Wakefield

    Frank wrote one of bluegrass mandolin's tour de force tunes, New Camptown Races, in 1953(!). The number has been recorded by at least a dozen artists. That alone places him at the top of the heap.

    One of the best recorded versions is by this cat, with twin mandolins by Vic D'Amico and Barry Mitterhoff. So good.


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    Default Re: Frank Wakefield

    Here's a Frank story from the late 60's, One of a 100 probably! My Uncles played around NY back then and knew Frank and played at shows with him, well he left his Loar at a Jam-took off so my Uncle grabbed his Loar and put it up safe, later he asked Frank where his Loar was and Frank said I don't know but someone took care of me! Well right he was Uncle Dick had it and gave it back! Frank is great, a pioneer in mando work! He inspired many, Dawg comes to mind as David's pickin in the 60's had some Wakefield flavors I think?

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    Default Re: Frank Wakefield

    Had a Online chat with Frank's Manager-Fiddle player , and managed to get them to stop by our little remote town on the coast
    between dates in the bigger cities .. Community College Arts & Ideas funded the scheme..
    Easily sold out the venue.. @ the time there was no place to recommend for late dinner after the gig,
    Tourist Biz has expanded greatly since then for food after hours ..
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    Default Re: Frank Wakefield

    For me one of my 10 "Desert Island Discs" would have to be Red Allen, Frank Wakefield & The Kentuckians on the old Folkways label. And I'm not talking about "top ten Bluegrass discs"... I'm talking top ten discs of any genre.

    Dawg once said that "Frank Wakefield split the Bluegrass atom". Well, seek out this album and you will understand what he's talking about.

    Frank Wakefield is a bona-fide musical genius and one of the most creative mandolinists of all time.

    By the way... Dawg was the producer of this album... way back in 1964 or thereabouts.

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    Default Re: Frank Wakefield

    Listen to Frank's breaks on Little Maggie, the first song on the album Glassweb mentioned. Pure Frank genius.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D38mQV2-Y04

    Last edited by Don Grieser; Sep-08-2021 at 10:49am.
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    Default Re: Frank Wakefield

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Dog Dave View Post
    I have learned to play along with various recordings of Manha de Carnaval and look forward to learning other bossa nova tunes, like "Corcovado" and "Desafinado"
    If you like that stuff,
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