Getting to Know Liz Frame and the Kickers

Words of praise from Steve Morse, former Boston Globe music critic adorn Liz Frame and the Kickers’ website.  He writes “Once in a while an album cuts right to your heart.  Liz Frame and the Kickers’ Sooner is that record.”  Believe me, those kind of publicity quotes are worth their weight in gold.  What musician out there doesn’t want their music to cut right to listeners’ hearts?  This hard-working band hails from the greater Boston area and are just starting to tour more widely. Keep an eye out for them.

Liz Frame and the Kickers is one of 24 Emerging Artists chosen for this year’s Falcon Ridge Folk Festival.  The Emerging Artist showcase is always one of the highlights of the festival. The musicians are chosen by a three-member jury and are given the opportunity to perform two songs (not to exceed ten minutes).  The audience votes for their favorites and three or four acts are asked to return to the main stage the following year.

To learn more about Liz and her band, visit their website.

Here’s a video that shows the band in action.

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In reading up about your early musical influences, I’d have to say that it’s unlikely that many kids your age were listening to Jimmie Rogers, Elvis Presley or B.B. King.  Did you or could you relate to other artists that were perhaps a bit more contemporary?

Absolutely! There were countless times in my young life when I wanted to run screaming from the house because my father was on his Jimmie Rogers jag, or my mother had played her Billie Holiday records one-too-many times. I loved the stuff my folks listened to for the most part but really started getting into my own preferences right around thirteen, when I became obsessed with The Rolling Stones. A little later on I started listening to Joni Mitchell, Roxy Music, Led Zeppelin, CSNY, etc, and then after that, in my late teens I became totally enthralled with New Wave. I still love it all.

You started to play guitar as a young teen.  Did you teach yourself or did you take lessons?  Did it come naturally or did you have to practice a lot?

I am essentially self-taught. As I got better and older, I made sure to surround myself with other players who would show me stuff, and I still do. I’m working with a young man right now in the studio — this great engineer/musician who is half my age. He plays guitar expertly and beautifully and way better than me! I’m picking his brain. He taught me this cool lick that he came up with and played on one of our recordings, and I’ve been practicing it so I can play it live.

As for practicing, as soon as I started playing guitar, I was hooked, so it didn’t take much to get me to practice. I still play just about every single day. I love it, and I do feel like it’s “my” instrument. I’ve tried to latch on to other instruments, like piano or mandolin, but they just don’t appeal to me the way a guitar does.

Did you begin writing at an early age?

Yes, I wrote my first song at nine years of age. Of course, I wasn’t playing guitar then, so I couldn’t accompany myself. But I had the melody and lyrics in my head and I sang them! Once I started playing guitar, the whole songwrittng thing really took off for me.

But even before songwriting, I was writing. I started keeping a diary as a young girl. In high school I wrote for the school paper. I was an English major in college. I’m a wordsmith, I guess.

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our first CD, Sooner, received some very nice praise including comparisons to the Indigo Girls and Lucinda Williams. Tell us about working with some of our great local session players like Duke Levine, Kevin Barry and Bobby Keyes on that album.

It was terrific! Bobby was the first person I got introduced to and he was instrumental in bringing in Duke and Kevin because he knows them personally. I recorded “Sooner” in Bobby’s studio and he was there pretty much the entire time, so he had a lot of influence on the sound. He played on several cuts and it was thrilling to have such talent contributing to my record. That was the case with Kevin and Duke, too. Duke, in particular, was amazing. He just showed up with his guitar, sat down, and played. It was effortless and beautiful. All three of these guys are experts — pros — and it spoiled me, frankly, because I could get used to working with a batch of guys like that!

How does your forthcoming album compare to your debut?

It is definitely more hard-hitting. “Sooner” was recorded with no drums, just a cajone and other percussive stuff. This new record has drums and electric bass guitar, which we also did not have on “Sooner.” And the new material, the stuff I’ve been writing for the last few years, reflects that harder sound. When the Kickers first got started, we were very acoustic — again, no drums, just a cajone. Five years later, we pretty much rock out, thanks to Pat Chamberlin, my guitar player, and Pete Walsh, my drummer.

But both records are firmly entrenched in the Americana/Alt-country sound that we love so much, so I think our fans will be happy.

What’s the longest tour you’ve been on?   Are you the kind of musician who thrives on playing in different places every night?  Is it tough landing in a new city and not knowing anyone and trying to make new fans?

We are newbies when it comes to touring but we are fast getting the hang of it!Last year was essentially our first time out on the road, and it was for three weeks, along the mid-Atlantic, more or less. We loved it! None of us wanted to come home! We all loved playing different venues, meeting new people, travelling to towns we’d never been to. This summer we’ll be out for just over two weeks, hitting a lot of the places we did last year, but also some new ones — like the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, and Hill Country BBQ in DC and New York. And of course, we close the tour with our appearance at Falcon Ridge, which we are very excited about.

What’s in store for you and the Kickers?

More recording and more touring. The cd that’s about to come out will be an ep — four or five songs. We’ll put another one out before the end of the year and be back out on the road in the fall. We’re firming up dates for that now.

More long-term, we just see ourselves continuing to write and play and tour, hopefully getting into more fests, better venues, etc. The band is on this great trajectory right now and we are certainly ready for it. We are all in this for the long, wonderful haul.

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