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Frankie Boots brings coast to coast music to the stage at Black Sheep

August 9, 2018
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Courtesy of Sterling Munksgard Photography Frankie Boots playing at Kate Wolf Music Festival in 2016.

Frankie Boots began life in northern California, listening to the music young people typically seek out in their teenage years. Luckily, however, he also lived in a house where Johnny Cash and other country musicians were played on a regular basis.

As a young adult, Boots began to take music seriously and he started to write his own music, trying to be observant of the crazy world we live in. As Boots began to develop his own style, he sought to broaden his horizons by hitting the road.

A couple of years ago, Boots landed in New Orleans and eventually decided to move there to experience a place completely different than where he’d lived earlier in his life. Now, he touts himself as a “Northern California troubadour pickin’ tunes in the Deep South and beyond.”

Many try to throw Boots’ music into the Americana category because he does his own thing while bringing in elements of country music, the blues, bluegrass and good old down-to-earth rock and roll. As his career has evolved, he has opened for many notable acts, such as Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real, Robert Earl Keen, Leon Russell, Pokey Lafarge and many other artists who stretch the boundaries of mainstream music.

On Thursday, Aug. 9, Frankie Boots and fellow musician Kerry Erin Coattails will perform at the Black Sheep Stage located at 279 9th St. in Huntington’s Pullman Square.

“There has been a lot of good country music to come out of California, like Merle Haggard, Buck Owens and the Bakersfield Sound,” said Frankie Boots. “My dad was an antique dealer who specialized in coin-operated machinery including pinball games and jukeboxes, things like that. For as long as I can remember, there was always a jukebox in our house that played old 45 rpm records and my dad would have Willie Nelson records on there and Bob Wills and the older music. He also had a decent record collection as well, so I would dig into that at times to see what I could find. I started into it like everybody else, beginning with Johnny Cash and then digging a little deeper.”

With modern digital technology at the ready, Boots expanded his musical horizons.

“When I was a kid, I loved the Rolling Stones, who were my favorite band and the first group I went to see in concert,” said Boots. “I first saw the Rolling Stones in the Oakland Coliseum in 1995 and my mind was blown. It was great. But from there, I dug a little deeper into other music. These days, with the internet and all of that stuff, you have access to whatever music you want to find. If you want to explore music and dig deeper into it, it is all right there.”

Boots always thought he would be a writer of prose, of novels and published essays. But about six years ago he got the bug to write music. Encouraged by a friend to pick up the guitar and jam a little bit, Boots soon diverted his creativity and began to compose songs. After doing some busking on the streets of California, recording music and getting more gigs on the road, Boots made the big move to Louisiana.

“I came through New Orleans in 2014 for the first time when I was doing a full band tour while still based in California,” said Boots. “I spent three or four days here and it was like no other place that I had visited before. I knew it would be a crazy experience down here, but I did not know the full extent of it. It got into my blood a little bit then. When we came back here in 2016 and spent some more time down here, however, I fell in love with the place. My girlfriend was with me at the time and we sat up there on the Mississippi River one afternoon and I said, ‘If I wanted to move down here, would you want to do it, too?’ She said yes. After we had that conversation, we drove around a little bit and checked out the housing scene there and soon realized it was the move for us.”

So, the pair packed their bags and moved over 2,000 miles to the swampy, funky south.

“California is great and it’s my home and I always loved it in northern California,” said Boots. “But, I had only lived in Sonoma County or San Francisco my whole entire life. So, we both wanted to do something different. It is great that people live in one place their whole life and have a great experience doing it. But as per New Orleans, there is a big difference between visiting a town for a while and putting down some roots and getting to know your community and your neighbors and broadening your horizons a little bit. New Orleans is different than any other city in the world, and it has been great here. Every day, when I walk out the door; it is an adventure.”

Boots is looking forward to his first trip ever to the Tri-State.

“There is a music scene there that I have heard a lot about that features artists that I love,” said Boots. “I’ve listened to W.B. Walker’s show and enjoy bands such as The Horse Traders, the Flat Trackers, Arlo McKinley is great and Tyler Childers is as well. I’ve been dying to get up that way.”

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