Beyond the Borders of What's Expected
If you love folk music
you'll find the keen eye for detail
in character development to be without fail
you'll find the guitar sounds
with more pressure per pound
and know it's not a mere
notion, we've been entertaining audiences for years
with our sonic potion.
Two Tracks to Listen 2
About Hannah Frank Group: Our Story
Hannah Frank Group, pictured: Meg Thomas (percussion), Hannah Frank (guitar, vocals, songwriting), Victor Sanders (guitar), Ben E. Miller (bass),. The band can also feature special guests and various formats to suit certain events and venues.
Since 2012, her band Hannah Frank Group has performed at some of Chicago's notable venues and listening rooms. The band is brimming with the talent of Meg Thomas, Ben E. Miller and Victor Sanders, plus guest All-Stars. The style includes a custom percussion set-up of Native American gathering drum and cajon, while the electric guitar can sound like a bird or a synthesizer, changing on a dime. This sets the group apart from expected singer-songwriter fare, and Hannah is the only songwriter we know of to rhyme "miss you" with "lung tissue."
The group's background in Chicago is all about creating community: it organized "Singing for Your Supper" Songwriter Showcases for over two years, as part of Hannah's previous work as a Publicist with Chicago Acoustic Underground, an original music podcast at www.chicagoacoustic.net. Hannah also organized Strobe Songwriter Showcases at Strobe Recording Studio, as well as booking for Bucktown Garden Walk, conferences and her own series "Stormy Monday" a monthly showcase featuring roots acts alongside spoken word.
"While working as a Publicist I started feeling like even my funeral would be a networking event, so I am always thrilled any time I can simply 'be a musician' and play," says Hannah, who sometimes would book, perform and run sound all for the same show. "I spent most of my 20's in relative isolation, like Walt Whitman or Emily Dikinson, writing poetry and songs, literally in an old farm house, so now, living in Chicago, and seeing all the great music and people, I am in the mix of it.
Victor Sanders, electric guitarist and recording engineer/producer, was a big part of pulling me out of my shell. He plays with a lot of singer-songwriters and offered to jam with me. At that time, I was nose to the grindstone working at a business news publication, which I actually wanted to do because I wanted to understand economics. I had practically hung up guitar, but Victor encouraged me to perform as a duo, and added Meg and Ben to the band. I remember playing at The Orphanage, a big re-purposed church auditorium where they had events, and the cook there said I had 'good tone' in my voice. I took the compliment seriously and pressed on.
As I kept playing and singing, I figured I should start taking it more seriously. Inspired by all the great music in Chicago, particularly guitarists, I studied with Mike Allemana (jazz guitarist/composer), Dave Onderdonk (jazz guitarist) and David Bloom (guitarist and founder, Bloom School of Jazz). What made me gravitate to jazz guitar specially was two things: 1) Start complicated and the rest will be easy and 2) My Sherona. I heard Brian O'Hern and the Model Citizens Big Band play My Sherona and it was my Helen Keller moment. I realized music was a language. I think of myself as a writer, I studied Journalism and love the idea of collecting people's stories and disseminating information and social commentary. I see music as a language to learn, and sheet music a type of morse code to solve. I taught myself my folk style of playing guitar, and the academic side of music feels like the last frontier and is fascinating to me.
As a sound engineer in Chicago I have had the opportunity to see numerous bands of many genres at live shows and work at Strobe Recording Studio. Seeing hundreds of live shows in many styles and skill levels has led me to understand what cannot be taught: feel, groove and playing the audience (I believe the audience can be played like a theremin, I have heard it before). Listening to artists like Martin Lang (amplified blues harp) and Taildragger (blues legend) have showed me not only authentic West Side Chicago blues, but a connection to the groove and the roots of American music that is irreplaceable. This has built my love of the blues, which started with rural country blues and fingerpicking styles into the electric sounds of blues which to me, has bold traces of rock and roll and the joy of gospel. My set now includes interpretations of deep cuts of traditional roots/blues songs."
Hannah Frank Group recordings, studios and radio: LIVE EP (2014) has been aired on WDCB 90.9FM. I've appeared live on WZRD 88.3 FM, WLIP and WLUW 88.7 FM. Archive audio and footage is on Chicago Acoustic Underground Podcast and Strobe Recording Studio's Strobe Sessions. Further recordings are available for purchase and listening at www.hannahfrank.bandcamp.com.
"This exploration of music would not be possible without my talented band and all-star musicians open to performing with me. For example, Meg Thomas has a custom percussion set up just for this group which includes Native American gathering drum and cajon. I strongly encourage you to check out a live show and see where all this goes."
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