By DJ Dave Hoffenberg
This Saturday, Sept. 1, head to Killington Resort to listen to the cool jammin’ sounds of Donavon Frankenreiter. He is really excited to be coming back to the mountains of Killington.
Frankenreiter hails from California but moved to Hawaii over 10 years ago. Besides playing music, he’s a pro surfer and has been on the tour.
Frankenreiter started guitar when he was 16, in a high school cover band. He didn’t start playing professionally until he was 30, which gives hope to musicians who think they have to start young. “Anybody can make it and anybody can be introduced to the music world at any age. It is so wide open now that there’s really not a formula to go by. Anyone can start at any time as long as you’re passionate and you love it,” Frankenreiter said.
Frankenreiter is good friends with Jack Johnson and they grew up surfing together. He went back to the spot where he met Johnson in Hawaii 25 years later and recorded an album on Johnson’s label, Brushfire Records, in 2004.
Frankenreiter has many musical influences, but is really a big fan of the old stuff like Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Tom Petty. “There’s so many great songs and so many great musicians. Whether people love or hate Pandora, it introduced me to many great musicians. I’ll listen to some channels of people I know and then go to something different. It’s pretty neat. I get inspired by all kinds of music from Sade to Metallica. Rarely do I say ‘that sucks.’ There is always some beauty in there somewhere.”
Frankenreiter said there are some really great musicians in Oahu and he loves playing there, but also really loves the diversity wherever he goes. He explained: “I like playing anywhere really. I’ve played a gig in Indonesia and that was surreal. It’s fun everywhere. I’m looking forward to playing in Killington again. The mountains are cool, so are the families that come out.”
Despite being a big surfer, Frankenreiter does not snowboard. He’s afraid he’ll hurt himself on the snow. “I stick to things I love: music and surfing. I’ve been around snowboarding a lot and people try and get me to go but I don’t want to fall and break my wrist. I can’t afford to have that happen.” He’s had his fair share of surfing accidents. “I’ve broken my collar bone, cracked my nose a million times and have had stitches all over my face and legs. Nothing too crazy, no big broken bones or major injuries.” He’s been fortunate to not come across a shark. “Thank God none of that. Try to avoid those at all costs,” he said.
Frankenreiter loves what he does and said, “I love that every night is different. I love the element of sharing the music with people, but also the guys in my band. I love the element of it being live and you never know what’s going to happen. I could forget the words, break a string and every night it sounds different. There’s nights where everything is perfect and then there are those nights where it sounds bad and you’re struggling and you’re trying to find that spot where you’re stoked again. I love that feeling of not knowing. At the end of the night it’s so exciting and it keeps me going. I love sharing that with people.”
He continued, “I grew up surfing my whole life and I’ve done that professionally and I still do that. Surfing is one of those things that I get that same feeling that I do when I play music – except I surf by myself. I don’t catch a wave with a thousand other people. I hope to only have one or two other people. You catch this moment when magical things happen and there’s nobody there to see it. It’s like a freeze-frame in your brain, it’s like one of those incredible things. When something magical happens when you’re playing music, it’s a quick moment but it’s not forever. I love that element of sharing the music in a concert and getting those feelings with those moments. I love getting that feeling when I go watch other musicians.”
Frankenreiter doesn’t have a set routine that he goes through each night. Sometimes he’ll have butterflies, but he never ever thinks that he doesn’t want to go on stage, he gets antsy and wants to get right out there and play. “There’s that feeling that you get in your stomach and you think, ‘What’s it going to be like?’ That also keeps me going. I’ve had nights where I can’t remember the next line in a song. Those moments are exciting, too.” While he writes all the songs, it does happen from time to time. It’s a lot to remember! That’s one thing I’m impressed with, musicians that can remember all those songs.
“I do best when I’m not thinking about it. The night flies by. I never thought twice what I was going to say or play and those are the best moments ever. I don’t even look at the guitar or the fret board. If I start over-thinking stuff, I hate that. I try and slow down and just play it and feel it.”