FRANKIE STARR: A Blues Guitar Prodigy
Whether you have just recently discovered the God-given musical gift of Frankie Starr, or have been an avid follower of his music at his gigs or via his guitar classes throughout the years, you are in an elite group of music aficionados who have been given the opportunity to experience a rare, talented bird upclose and personal.
Stayed tuned to this site as we will be selling rare pics from his earlier days as a professional musician.
“Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life. Although the spirit be not master of that which it creates through music, it is blessed in this creation, which, like every creation of art, is mightier than the artist.” Perhaps Beethoven was referring to that music which, while chilling our bones, seeps throughout our utter being and warms our heart. Surely it’s the sound that awakens us from our stupo and reassures us that it’s good for the soul to sail unchartered waters, seek answers to our seemingly-unanswerable questions, and rid our lives of mundane moments and malicious madmen. It’s the music that makes the utter difference, the music that makes us concentrated, that affirms our belief that it’s good to be alive, to seize the moment, to take hold. It’s the music created by blessed musicians. It’s the music of blues guitar prodigy Frankie Starr.
Although this eighteen-year-old has made numerous appearances in Cleveland since he was eight, this December 1st will mark the one-year anniversary of Frankie Starr’s onset into Cleveland’s music scene with his three-piece band, Chill Factor. Within one year, his first year playing professionally, Frankie has accomplished more that most musicians or eighteen-year-olds could have imagined.
First, Frank has steadfastly established himself as a full-time, clean livin’, respectable musician. He’s been booked 236 gigs out of 365 days, and he sported every one of those gigs drugfree and with his signature clean-cut style. with this serious, professional attitude, he has earned the respect of musicians twice his age.
Second, Frankie has shared stages with a handful of blues greats this year and has received nothing but support and rave reviews from the top music writers at The Cleveland Plain Dealer. In February, just five months after he began bestowing the blues with Chill Factor, he opened for Lonnie Mack. PD writer Michael Heaton wrote about that performance, “The 18-year-old Starr is a killer guitarist, undoubtedly the best in Cleveland…You best catch these bad boys soon. They won’t be in Cleveland too long. They’re going places. Fast.”
Soon afterwards, Frankie Starr & Chill Factor opened for Edgar Winter and Leon Russell. In April, the band opened for the Nighthawks; that same spring month Frankie performed at Kingston Mines in Chicago, placed 2nd overall in the “Hot Leads Guitar Contest,” and happily began working with bassist Joe Arthur. In the July 23rd issue of The Plain Dealer, David Sowd wrote, “Starr is clearly the star here, a prodigious 18-year-old guitarist whose amp is cranked so loud that no one could ignore his burning soulful solos if they wanted to. But from the way Joe Arthur’s long fingers are flying across the fret board of his bass, it’s equally clear that the band’s newest and youngest member is a player whose skills demand a hearing.”
In May, the band again opened for Lonnie Mack, as well as for ‘Lil Ed & The Blues Imperials. After opening for Little Milton during a sultry June month of 27 gigs, July’s schedule continued to heat up Cleveland’s summer nights. Not only did Frankie open for Albert Collins and “steal the spotlight” as reviewer Robert Derwae so objectively observed in his Plain Dealer article, but also received standing ovations at Nautica and in Columbus for his performance at the Steve Ray Vaughan concerts.
Another accomplishment this year includes Frankie’s development of a strong following of both kindhearted blues enthusiasts and open-minded, supportive club owners – a feat which has led to nightly bookings at previously-unknown-local-watering-holes-turned-standing-room-only-hot-spots, upscale clubs, private parties, BBQs, and clambakes. Frankie packs disparate pubs that never bestowed the blues before, including his Friday night gigs at the only blues club in the Flats: Kindlers, his solo gigs at the Ohio City Tavern and the Barking Spider Saloon, his Thursday gigs at Tucker Dan’s in Akron, and his Sunday night gigs at a theatre in Painesville.
Also, Frankie has not only collaborated with his band members in writing, performing, and recording originals, but also worked with a talented songwriter/musician Mark Avsec. Two originals, Priest of Labor and Cold, Cold, Cold will be included on the band’s debut CD, Makin’ Waves. Scheduled to be released next month, the CD will also feature several tracks recorded live at Mirenda’s.
In such a brief time, Frankie Starr has created more wondrous waves in this town’s blues waters than ever produced before – waves that, not surprisingly, no one else can seem to ride. This complex, humble fellow, who has been blessed with gifts from the heavens, will celebrate his 19th birthday this month, and through his soul-quenching guitar wails, will continue to make that connection between the spiritual life and the sensual life. ‘We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths; in feelings, not in figures on the dial; we should count time by heart throbs. He most lives who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best.” (G. Bailey 1807-1859)
This feature article, first published several years ago, not only attracted the attention and interest of international music producers who contacted me personally about this artist, but also led to the artist’s securing of local and regional gigs every night of the week. As a direct result of my innovative, trend-setting marketing skills, he was not only booked every night of the week, but also paid more than any other musician at the time.
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