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FRANK WAKEFIELD

  • From Emory Gap, Tennessee, near Knoxville. Lives in Upstate New York.
  • Full name: Franklin Delano Roosevelt Wakefield.
  • Known for his technical virtuosity on the mandolin. Influenced David Grisman and many other mandolin players. One of the first to play jazz on the instrument.
  • Learned to play music in rural pentecostal “snake-handling” churches around east Tennessee.
  • Grew up on a farm and never went to school. He learned to read and write when he was 28 years old.
  • 1957, at age 19, moved to Dayton, Ohio and met Red Allen. They formed a group called the Blue Ridge Mountain Boys.
  • 1958, worked for a short time with Jimmy Martin.
  • 1958, he and Red Allen formed The Kentuckians.
  • 1959, briefly worked with the Stanley Brothers.
  • 1960, with Red Allen, re-assembled the Kentuckians, this time in Baltimore. Other personnel included banjo players Bill Keith, Don Reno, Bill Emerson, Pete Kuykendall, Eric Weissberg; also fiddlers Chubby Wise, Scott Stoneman, others.
  • 1964-68, joined the Greenbriar Boys. While with the Greenbriar Boys, he was seriously injured in an auto accident, putting him in a coma for more than a month.
  • 1972, began performing and recording as a solo artist and with his “Frank Wakefield Band.”
  • Has performed with the Grateful Dead, New Riders of the Purple Sage, the Boston Pops Orchestra, Emmylou Harris, many others.
  • Hidden talent: he can talk backwards.
  • 2011, released Tribute to Bill Monroe album (Patuxent).
  • 2013, released Frank Wakefield, Taylor Baker & Friends (Patuxent).
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