Frank D Howe

Country Singer/Songwriter and Recording Artiste for Drifting Ploughboy Records.

Hello and welcome!
I hope you find my website to be just as easy to use as it’s possible for a website to be (a desire which is based on my own need of easy to use on-line things, I’m no techie). I hope too that by the time you leave you may have found something on here that’s made you smile or has entertained you in some way for a little while!

If you have, then I’ll be happy too.

If you’re someone who’s popped back here from time to time to check for news, changes or to see if a new word or phrase has been added to the Dumplinarea feature and so far found only the same old thing waiting for you, then I must apologise for my lack of attention. I have to admit this is one of those areas of my life I’ve put last when busy and I must do better going forward. No better time to start than now as I’ve been sitting on the release of two more albums and some singles for some time – but, within weeks now, I hope to have found the time and effort to get them launched and on here – they are:

Album 1) T.T.N.B. Raw and Unplugged.

As you may guess with a title like that, this is an acoustic Country/Blues (Ameripolitan) album and it contains fifteen tracks (that have never been recorded before although some of them have been around a while). Actually there are fourteen new songs but then one of them (called ‘Pass It On’) is also done as an instrumental making a total fifteen tracks.

T.T.N.B. (Them There Norfolk Boys)

consist of yours truly (songs and vocals) and two very long time friends of mine Chris Hannant who is a great ‘acoustic Country and Blues’ picker + Harmonica player (actually he can pretty well play anything – though on this album he sticks with nothing more than his old favourite workhorse Ibanez acoustic guitar and odd items fished from his satchel of harmonicas). He’s near as old as me and has been playing guitar since childhood. In fact his first band was called The Intervals and, as that name may suggest, they played whilst the reels were being changed mid film at The Regal Cinema (Beccles) which I guess adequately depicts how long he’s been playing. He also played bass in several early Norfolk Country bands (including for The Plainsmen who were fronted by Brian Haylett, father of the current Nashville Numbers front man, Carl Haylett). Chris was also with the Phil Shannon Band for quite a while before breaking away to form his own excellent family band ‘El Gatos Men’. But he’s also loved and studied the blues and blues licks too and though these days El Gatos Men are just a memory; Chris and eldest son Simon still go out as a duo called ‘Katz Whizkaz’ under which name they’re doing quite an eclectic mix of music that should offer something for everyone that likes ‘real’ music including Country and the Blues (just don’t expect anything electronically created and you won’t be disappointed).

Raw & Unplugged is an apt description of the whole album but no track more so than track nine; ‘More Dirt,’ which is raw indeed! In fact this take of ‘More Dirt’ never saw the studio at all and is nothing more than the rough demo recorded on my cell phone which I left leaning running in video record mode against a flower pot on the table Chris and I sat around when I first put the songs to him. Although we tried three times in the studio (making it the most expensive track in studio time on the album) I never liked what we achieved there as much as I liked this initial rough take so, that track either had to be dropped or simply lifted off the video and used as it was. Chris & Graham thought it too good to leave out (and so do I really, as I wrote it about 20 yrs ago and if it didn’t get its place on this album it may never have got another go round). Chris is responsible for all of the main guitar and harmonica arrangements (and playing) on the album and most of the (never at any point overdone) background ‘fills’ (whether guitar or harmonica). I would think this is the perfect album for acoustic guitartists to do their daily practise workouts to?

Graham McGrotty (who surely should have been a Punk Superstar with that name) is the third member of this team and he’s also a great Country and Blues picker who’s been playing since childhood. His Country & Blues interests started in local Rock and Country bands (Kalamazoo etc.) but he has for several years now concentrated more on the Blues side of things having toured the world with the official ‘Blues Brothers’ tribute band as well as having played in the touring band of many big name artistes (think The Drifters, The Supremes etc. etc.) so his experience is widespread. Somewhere along the road though Graham has also found the time and effort to study for and obtain a BA (Hons) in Music & Recording so it was obviously his ‘Sweatshop’ studio we used. Graham also did some of the guitar fills and the lovely instrumental version of ‘Pass It On’. So if you ever wondered what you’d end up with if you put two great pickers who lean well towards The Blues, to work on songs written by a Country writer, well wonder no longer, this Raw & Unplugged album is just exactly that.

Frank D Digs Deep (For Olde Gold Country) is the 2nd of the new albums.

Again, there are fifteen tracks but this is, for the first time since I’ve been recording, a departure from recording only my own original material and opting for covers instead. In fact most of the tracks are well known Classic Country songs that go way back from the 40’s to the 80’s and there’s only one of my own songs on it (‘Sippin’ Cold Tea’ – and even that has been released before on my still available 2012 album ‘Some Thoughts I Have Had Vol.1’). If you like the old stuff you can find out more about why, just like you, I also love those old classics and why I’m releasing this album now when you click on the ‘My Story’ button.

Single #1; ‘Wailing Wood’ (The Legend of The Babes in the Wood)

Released under the joint name Howe & Dunn (this is to give Mark Dunn who many of you will know because of his many years as steelie and lead guitarist with the first class straight country band Nashville Numbers and, more recently, for touring with Dominic Kirwan and gigs with the Jeff Gallant Band) full credit for his contribution. He’s another Norfolk boy though these days residing just over the Suffolk border at Beccles. This song, the basics of which I did with Mark in his studio in 2014 (but which has laid dormant until I finally added the sound effects and final mix quite recently) is my understanding of what happened back in the dark history of mid Norfolk giving birth to this legend. There is a much diminished part of Wailing Wood (these days officially called Wayland Wood – except to older locals in the know – who still say Wailing) is still standing and the public have access to it so I have walked around in there a few times and all I saw was trees, bluebells and primroses – but, I do swear there was one part of it that for some reason had an eerie feeling to it which; “stands the hair up on ya neck and makes ya blood run cold,” just like I say in the song.

Single #2; is taken from the Frank D Digs Deep (for ‘Olde Gold Country’) album (track 15)

This is the Kerry Chater & Austin Roberts song I.O.U. (possibly the best song ever written for matching up suitable lyrics to wedding photo slideshows. Check out my version of it put to the wedding photos of friends who actually used it as the ‘walkout song’ for their wedding which I took as an enormous compliment! See if you can think of a better lyric for the job which I’m hoping to put on YouTube shortly)?

Of course the ‘Some Thoughts I Have Had Vol. 1’ album is still for sale too.

That was recorded in Nashville and then I added the vocals over here in Dave Hayward’s studio, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. Unfortuately the artistes that played on that album and helped out with the background vocals have recording contracts in their own right, so I’m contractually not allowed to give them the credits I’d like to give them (even though it’s all above board and their Record Companies allow them to earn a little extra helping out other people like this). All except that is for track eleven; ‘Sippin’ Cold Tea’ which was wholly recorded in Dave’s studio with him doing most of the instrumental work except for the mandolin and banjo which I was lucky enough to have Hippy Joe (for some time now Hayseed Dixie’s mandolin player) help out with. Also for the buzzy bee ‘jaw harp’ which was down to my long time friend and local (Norwich) ‘Ghostrider CWC’ member Lefty (Tony) Paternoster. He did a great job and all he charged for his twelve hour day spent going to Hemel Hempstead and back was a Chinese meal when we got back in Norwich! Cheers mate, nice one. Dave at the time was playing pedal steel and lead guitar for Henry Smiths Country Dreams and of course Henry himself joined me for the duet ‘Drinkin’ Lyin’ Down’ (also shown on here as a video).

That’s about it for now, so take care and don’t be shy! Come right on up and speak if you’re where I’m at sometime and, until then, if there’s anything you’d like to know? There’s a contact button complete with an email address for you to use.

Thanks for visiting, Frank