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Frank Wakefield

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One of the chief innovators on the mandolin, Frank Wakefield played straight bluegrass with a number of well-known bands, including Red Allen and the Greenbriar Boys. Born into a musical family in Emory Gap, Tennessee, by age eight he already knew how to play harmonica, guitar, and bass. In 1950, his family moved to Dayton, Ohio, and soon afterward he took up the mandolin and formed the gospel-oriented Wakefield Brothers with sibling Ralph, who played guitar. In 1951, the brothers made their first radio appearance in Dayton. After the duo split up, Frank teamed with Red Allen in 1952 to form Red Allen & Frank Wakefield and the Kentuckians. They remained partners through 1972, occasionally pursuing side projects as well. It was with Allen that Wakefield mastered the banjo and Dobro, and when he moved with Allen to Washington, D.C. in 1960, he began offering private mandolin lessons; his star pupil was a young David Grisman. Wakefield joined the Greenbriar Boys in 1965 and remained with them through 1970. He also recorded The Frank Wakefield Band in 1971, and cut Pistol Packin' Mama in 1974 with his group the Good Old Boys, featuring appearances by Don Reno, Dave Nelson, and Chubby Wise, with Jerry Garcia in the producer's chair. Wakefield has also continued to teach (and released an instructional video) and has recorded into the 21st century, releasing Midnight on the Mandolin (2000), Don't Lie to Me (2003), and Ownself Blues (2009), all on the Patuxent label. ~ Sandra Brennan & David Vinopal

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Birth Name:

Franklin Delano Wakefield


26 June 1934 in Emory Gap, TN

Years Active:

'50s, '60s, '70s

Influenced by this Artist