Five Firsts: Dona Frank of the Spurs, USA
NAME: DONA FRANK
BAND AFFILIATION: THE SPURS, USA
INSTRUMENT: VOCALS, GUITAR, TAMBOURINE
1. THE FIRST ALBUM I EVER BOUGHT WAS … “Highway 61 Revisited,” Bob Dylan. It was a toss-up between this and the Beatles’ “Rubber Soul,” but I was not able to convince my parents to give me the money to buy both. I wasn’t much of a “chore” person, but I remember working in the neighbor’s yard to earn the money to eventually buy “Highway 61.” This came to be one of the most important records of my life and led me on a path of poetry, music and literature. There is a very impactful phrase in one of the cuts, “Like A Rolling Stone,” that I repeated then and still do today… “When you ain’t got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose. You’re invisible now, you’ve got no secrets to conceal”. It still says it all.
2. THE FIRST CONCERT THAT I EVER SAW WAS … Growing up in the Bay Area of California, I use to hitchhike to Golden Gate Park and hear the bands play in the park for free. Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, Joan Baez… I was young and didn’t really understand just what I was witnessing. I wish I had thought of having a camera back then because I experienced what is now considered some of the best music of our time. My best friend’s brother had a band and a van, and even though we were barely 13, we made him take us everywhere, many times in secret from our parents. Also saw Jefferson Airplane, Santana, the Byrds and ultimately attended the December, 1969 Altamont Speedway show with the Rolling Stones and others. It was all one very long, very cool, endless concert.
3. THE FIRST MUSICAL INSTRUMENT I EVER OWNED OR PLAYED WAS … Guitar. I wasn’t left-handed, but I strung it that way at first because of Paul McCartney (not knowing any better). I was about 10 years old when I received this as my special Hanukah gift from my parents. It sat there for a few years until I finally thought it was cool, after hearing and seeing the Beatles and others. I did finally string it the way I could play it, and off I went, guitar on my back, sandals in my hand. What a freak. Thanks, Mom & Dad!
4. THE FIRST SONG THAT I EVER PERFORMED IN PUBLIC WAS … “Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley.” It was folk music, easy to sing and only a few simple chords. This was just one in a series of three-chord songs that soon led me to love traditional country music. Folk music was a love of mine, but because of my father’s love of music, the range of what I listened to and learned went from country to folk to rock and even some Latin tunes.
5. THE FIRST BAND I WAS EVER IN WAS … A little trio I had in seventh grade; we never had a name. We played at school, at parties. We were acoustic, so we could play just about anyplace. I later sang in several big choirs and bands. While not having the best voice in the bunch, I pride myself on having fun and connecting with the audience.
Dona Frank steps up to the microphone with the recently formed old-school country band the Spurs, USA as they make their Albany debut at Pauly’s Hotel at 8pm on Friday (February 17). Admission is $5. The Spurs, USA also take the stage at the Brick House in Housatonic at 8pm on Saturday.