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Frank Hamilton

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Biography

Multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and folk song collector Frank Hamilton has played a seminal role in the evolution of American folk music. A co-founder of the Old Town School of Music in Chicago in 1957, Hamilton taught the future leader of the Byrds, Roger McGuinn, to play guitar and banjo. Accompanied by his wife, Mary, Hamilton's interpretations brought a new sensibility to songs of America's past. His stint with the Weavers, as replacement for Erik Darling, who had replaced Pete Seeger, lasted little more than a year -- 1962 to 1963 -- but his contributions remained essential to the folk quartet's legacy. Seeger called him "one of the most creative musicians in the country," while Odetta described him as "a folksinger's folksinger, a master of the art." Studs Terkel declared that he was "quite possibly the most expert and versatile of folk instrumentalists." A native of New York City, Hamilton was drawn to the music of the American south as a youngster. He spent much of the late '40s and early '50s traveling the region, performing on street corners and local bars and soaking up as much music as he could. Relocating to Los Angeles by 1953, he hooked up with Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Guy Carawan. Calling themselves the Dusty Road Boys, the three folksingers spent an extended period in the midwest with stops at the Asheville Folk Festival, the Grand Ole Opry, the home of A.P. Carter of the Carter Family, and the Highlander Folk School. Hamilton recorded his debut solo album, Sings Folk Songs, in 1962. Nearly four decades later, he remains active and released a new album, Long Lonesome Home, in 1999. ~ Craig Harris

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