Friday, 02 February 2018 00:00

An Interview With Keyboardist Carey Frank

Written by Robert Fadley

Words by Jam Band Purist

Carey Frank, interim keyboardist for Tedeschi Trucks Band and other various projects has released his album, Something To Remember Him By. From Tedeschi Trucks Band to playing at Disney, Carey is a rising talent not only in the jam band world but the music business, as a whole.

I had no idea what to expect when I put on Something To Remember Him By and was surprised to hear jazz standards and exceptionally skilled keyboard and guitar work. With guitarist Bruce Forman, Carey lays down, not only the melody but also the bass lines on his Hammond Organ. I had to think twice when I heard it at first to make sure that there wasn’t a bassist sitting in.

Carey and Bruce work seamlessly together as a symbiotic team. Carey, much like an octopus behind the keys, leads the way while Bruce, sprinkles a mix of jazz and rock themes with exceptional phrasing. This album is extremely listenable and expresses the eclectic style that Carey produces. We had a chance to sit down with Carey and talk about improvisation, studio vs. live performance, and various other experiences in the interview below.

Jam Band Purist-What have been some of your most thrilling experiences working as a musician?

Carey Frank-Of course my work with Tedeschi Trucks Band has been one of the most thrilling experiences. I’ve been listening to Derek Trucks for years. One of the first albums I stole from my mom’s collection was actually a Derek Trucks Band album. Also getting to hang a lot with Dr. Lonnie Smith is pretty thrilling. Living in LA, I’m always running into musical idols. And before I moved to LA, I lived in Orlando, FL and worked at Walt Disney World theme parks and that was its own thrilling experience. I’m a huge Disney nut so I was in heaven.

JBP-In your personal music style, do you use a lot of improvisation?

CF-Totally! If I really need to, I can play specific parts the exact same way every time, like I did when I worked at Walt Disney World and the few other pop gigs I’ve done, but it’s really hard for me to play the same thing twice. Even a familiar song/melody is played a bit different and improvised every time. It’s like telling a story to someone…you never say it the same way. Even if you say the exact same words and sentences, you may phrase it differently, emphasize different words, use different dynamics…I love working off the audience. That always really influences the way I improvise from night to night.

JBP-What’s it like working with some of the jam band world’s biggest acts? (TTB-Hot Tuna)

CF-Once you get over the star struck feeling, it’s like playing with any other great band. It’s so fun to play in bands that allow each member to do their own thing and take musical chances. And I really love the audiences! There is so much positive energy and all they want to do is hear good music and feel good energy which really makes any musician play his or her best.

JBP-I can tell from your album ‘Something To Remember Him By’ that you are influenced by jazz, but what other music has inspired you in your career?

CF-I grew up listening to jazz, of course, but also have always loved rock, movie soundtracks, classical music…I specifically listened to a lot of Billy Joel, Beatles, Disney movie soundtracks, John Williams, Queen, John Mayer, Debussy…

JBP-The album is just you and Bruce Forman on guitar, but it feels like there is a lot more going on. Did you play the bass lines and melody?

CF-I played bass using the Hammond organ. It’s a mix of using foot pedals and my left hand. That’s the great thing about that instrument. It can be so soft and subtle and fill in those nice spaces or it can be the big powerhouse showoff instrument taking the place of a full 12-piece horn section in addition to taking over the bassist’s spot. One of the many goals of this album was to fool the listener into forgetting there was no drummer or bassist.

JBP-Do you prefer studio work vs. live performances? How has each furthered your career as a musician?

CF-I’d love to do more studio work. Both are really different mindsets and I love both but, right now, the majority of my work is playing live which means a lot of late nights and hauling a lot of heavy organs and keyboards and amps all over town. A big thing that helped my career was when I started bringing a GoPro to a handful of my gigs and posting my solos on social media. That’s how I’ve become more well known and how I’ve gotten some bigger gigs.

JBP-Any recent projects that you would like to promote besides the album? What’s next?

CF-My band, Strangers On a Saturday Night, has a new album coming out on February 14th and we’re doing a show that night at The Blue Whale in Downtown LA. It’s an organ trio featuring me, Will Brahm and Jamey Tate, and vocalist Jane Monheit sang on a few tracks. Another organ trio I’m in, The White Blinds, just got signed to F Spot Records and we will be in the studio next month and releasing our album over the summer. I’m part of many different groups around town and always posting about where I’m playing and any new music I’m releasing on my Website and Facebook!

JBP-Is there a story behind the album’s title?

CF-As you know, the album is dedicated to my grandfather and singer, Don Cornell. Bruce played his 1938 Gibson L5 on the album and all of the tracks (except for one original composition I dedicated to my grandmother Iris) were songs my grandfather used to sing and record regularly. Don had an album entitled “Something To Remember Me By” so I thought it best to title mine “Something To Remember Him By.”

JBP-Being on the road, I’m sure you have seen some pretty wild stuff; any crazy experiences you’ve been dying to share?

CF-Honestly, I haven’t seen many crazy things on the road. It’s not usually what it’s like in the movies. There were a few times when I lived in Orlando that I played at a nudist colony, which was pretty crazy and what you might expect. Also, one time I was touring with Lucy Woodward and we had a night off so the band went to see a movie. At some point during the movie, I put my popcorn on the empty seat next to me then, 10 minutes later, the guy sitting on the next seat over started eating my popcorn. Lucy and I couldn’t stop laughing during the rest of the movie. Other than that, the crazy experiences are getting to perform with some of my longtime idols.

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