Carey Frank studied organ with Dr. Lonnie Smith, drags his Hammond B3 and Leslie 122 around Los Angeles in a minivan, and recently learned 60 songs in four days to join the Tedeschi Trucks Band on tour as their fill-in keyboardist. For these reasons and more, he's our TALENT SCOUT Artist of the Week.
NAME: Carey Frank
HOMETOWN: Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
MUSICAL TRAINING: I come from a musical family - both of my grandparents were musicians and my uncle is also a musician. I started taking piano lessons when I was four years old, part of a “Mommy and Me” type of class. I remember that every week our teacher would give a prize to the kid that logged the most practice hours and I always won the prize. My junior high/high school were very small (I think I graduated with 43 kids in my class), so the band consisted of keyboards, guitar, drums, and a singer/saxophone player. I had the best music teacher, Zohar Shahar. He saw my potential and really gave me the direction I needed. He taught me all of the Beatles’ tunes, current and old pop songs, jazz standards, as well as other useful gigging tips. Since there was no bassist, he had me play left hand bass and told me that’s what an organ player does, so I listened to every album I could find with Hammond organ and fell in love. I found a music store with a Hammond B3 and set up shop there every day after school. I can’t forget to mention that my dad is a chiropractor and his patient, Dr. Lonnie Smith, was kind enough to show me some Hammond organ tricks now and then and quickly became a close mentor. I did my undergraduate studies in Orlando at the University of Central Florida. I studied with Per Danielsson and then received my Masters at University of Southern California, studying with Alan Pasqua, Russ Ferrante, and Otmaro Ruiz.
FIRST GIGS: My first gigs were playing Klezmer music and a little jazz with my grandfather at Jewish events in South Florida, and accompanying my Rabbi for Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and weddings all while I was in high school. Eventually, I started gigging with jazz musicians in town then moved to Orlando for college, where I started working in bands at Walt Disney World, Sea World, as well as with other local Orlando bands at all the venues, restaurants, and hotels.
MUSICAL INFLUENCES: Chick Corea, Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Smith, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Larry Goldings, Joey DeFrancesco, Billy Joel, Sting, Stevie Wonder, the Beatles. I’ve also always loved soundtracks and especially Disney soundtracks (stop laughing, you love them too), so John Williams, Danny Elfman, the Sherman Brothers, Alan Menken, Randy Newman, etc.
WHAT I’M LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW: I’m always re-listening to Keith Jarrett’s Bye Bye Blackbird, Chick Corea’s Past, Present & Futures, and Jimmy Smith’s Back at the Chicken Shack. I’m also usually checking out anything Jeff Babko is apart of such as his new groups, Band of Other Brothers and Sock Belt.
MY BIG BREAK: Moving to Los Angeles and purchasing a Hammond B3/Leslie and a minivan! At the time, aside from my good buddy Ty Bailie, no one else was dragging around a Hammond organ. Literally the day after I bought my first B3, my whole week got booked up with gigs and it’s been that way ever since. A few months after that, I was introduced to and started touring with the singer Lucy Woodward (Rod Stewart/Snarky Puppy). Almost a year after that, I got a call out of the blue to sub in the Tedeschi Trucks Band for Kofi Burbridge as he recovered from emergency heart surgery. I had four days to learn all 60 of their songs for the 2017 Wheels of Soul Summer tour. I’m currently finishing up my third tour with them in NYC, and I’m very happy to report that Kofi is healing tremendously and will be back on the road very soon!
LATEST ALBUM: My next album Something To Remember Him By is releasing November 7th. I’m really excited about this one because it’s a little different than other Hammond organ albums because there are no drums! It features just Hammond B3 and guitar, as well as melodica on two tracks. Also, my organ trio Strangers on a Saturday Night is planning on releasing our first album in the next few months as well.
FAVORITE KEYBOARDS AND WHY? The Hammond B3 organ (with a Leslie 122 speaker)! You can get so many more sounds from a Hammond organ than most people think. The right player can make it sound like a full big band blasting a loud shout chorus, and then quickly play it at a beautiful whisper. I don’t think any keyboard has really figured out how to emulate it, partly because there are so many factors that change each Hammond’s sound such as dirt in the keys, a building’s voltage level, how the room is working with the Leslie cabinet, etc. I also really enjoy playing the Nord Stages and Electros. I have the Stage 2 with 88 keys and the Electro 5 with 73 keys. I love the versatility and the ability to quickly run to a gig with a backpack case, plug in a few cables and turn on a keyboard with a lot of easily editable, great sounds.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? A few more dates penciled in with Tedeschi Trucks Band, work in Los Angeles with my regular organ trios, and also shows with Lucy Woodward and CD release concerts for my new album.
ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION: Be as well versed in all genres as possible. I did as much homework as I could in college and really dug as deep as I could into all styles and eras of jazz as well as listened to every type of pop, rock, and R&B keyboard playing as possible. Also, really learn how to play each keyboard you come across. (Playing a Fender Rhodes or a Wurlitzer is so different from playing an acoustic grand piano). The older I get, the more I realize how playing music on stage or in the studio is the easy and fun part of the music business, and unfortunately only a very small part of it. I learned very quickly to answer emails, texts and phone calls as fast as possible, to always show up early, well dressed, and know all my parts (even in rehearsals). And if I ever have to sub out a gig or rehearsal, always have a sub lined up and make sure they’re as prepared as possible. Also, now that Facebook and Instagram are becoming more and more the musician’s LinkedIn (your online professional network and identity), I’d say to keep politics, personal relationship issues, and anything else that might rub some people the wrong way off your profile page.
For more information, visit www.careyfrank.com