When you’re surfing, you find a quietness that only momentarily breaks as you catch the waves that bring you to your destination. However, as the patterns of waves change, so do you as you methodize exactly how you will execute this change and still come out as strong as you came in.
For veteran surfer and musician Donavon Frankenreiter, it’s this aspect of surfing that provides a connection to his deep-seated interest in music. “There’s one thing that I find real similar and that is they’re forever changing,” said Frankenreiter. “You never catch the same wave twice; I’m really addicted to that essence of surfing.”
While Frankenreiter has been pro surfing since the tender age of 15, his passion for music began to develop two years later as he started to perform throughout the South California Coast. In 1996, he formed the surf-reggae band, Sunchild, though his yearning to develop himself further as a musician sprung as he found himself disbanding the band in 2001 and quickly starting a solo career the next year.
“When I first started, it was a trip, it was crazy. I could be playing a coffee shop, acoustic and sell 50 CDs in a night; it’d be the only way people could take my music and hear it,” said Frankenreiter. “Now that it’s not, you have to sustain this musical thing you’re doing by streaming your music and not selling it.”
Fifteen years and six studio albums later, Frankenreiter has proven himself to be a formidable force in the acoustic folk rock community with millions of fans across the globe and high-profile collaborations with the likes of Jack Johnson and Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals. If he wasn’t busy enough, Frankenreiter has also established his own music label called Liquid Tambourine Records, while also opening THEBARN808, a lifestyle store in his town of Hanalei in Hawaii with his wife, Petra.
While the ball continues to roll, Frankenreiter has been busy on tour, between playing his own solo acoustic shows to opening for Jack Johnson and the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. In a live setting, the chemistry exhibited on stage between him and his band is almost breathtaking as the delicate strums of his slack key guitar are complemented by the island-influences percussions that yield a tropical yet thought-provoking sound.
“When you’re onstage, it sounds a certain way and when the band can hear each other, and it sounds great onstage, it’s sort of a magical moment like ‘oh god, this is going to be a good one,’” said Frankenreiter.
Recently, Frankenreiter stepped briefly aside from his solo career to start a premier supergroup with producer Cisco Adler and acoustic folk rock musician G. Love, called Jamtown. Showcasing at the likes of Americanafest in Nashville, Tenn. and the Malibu Guitar Festival in Malibu, Calif., Jamtown released their debut EP on June 23 with the promise of a full-length album in November.
“I’ve had this idea to make this EP with G Love for 10 years. We were going to make this barbeque record where it was me and G around one microphone as if we were playing in your backyard,” said Frankenreiter. “We went in Cisco’s studio and 10 days later, we had 10 songs recorded and done.”
“I feel this is something that is really going to evolve,” added Frankenreiter.
With much going on in Frankenreiter’s life, he still has time to bask in the sunshine with his wife and kids and celebrate the beach that is life, even if that beach is “a wave machine in the middle of Texas that feels like a beach.”
Donavon Frankenreiter will be playing in Downtown Fairfield at The Warehouse on Thursday, August 10 at 8 p.m.