When Frank Ace plays the blues on his guitar, it is a
rich sound that is smooth and demonstrates his mastery of a technique
that has become his recognizable signature. Catching the beat from the
legendary James Brown, Ace creates hard, vigorous sustaining notes that
magically flow into resonant bright hues. Brown's rendition of Sex
Machine in the sixties influenced Ace's style and gave it a startling
quality with unexpected twists and turns. Frank also developed a cachet
all his own from the powerful input of the late Freddie King's blues,
Kenny Burrell's jazz, and Chet Atkins' country/western.
As a child,
Frank learned to play country/western under the unlikely tutoring of
rodeo cowboys who came to his stepfather's boots and saddle shop in
Albuquerque, New Mexico. He developed his love for the blues when he
later lived with his grandparents. "Back then, my grandmother defined
the blues for me, and I've never forgotten it," says the Arizona native.
"You didn't have to have the words. Blues is a feeling; it comes from
way down inside."
When he attended Phoenix Union High School, he was making big bucks for
a 17-year-old. Thanks to Carver Barnes, a park director, who took Frank
under his wing and helped him to form his five-piece band, The
Continental. Between engagements, however, Frank picked and chop cotton
in the fields to earn money for sound equipment.
The talented group caught the attention of John Fulbright, agent for Ray
Agee, big-time blues singer and songwriter. After spending a year in Los
Angeles with him, the group returned to Phoenix as professional savvy
musicians known as the Frank Ace Combo. Frank always was the leader of
the band; he has a happy, contagious smile, a showmanship personality,
and the ability to organize and get things done. In 1964, Fank cut his
first records, Kirk and Lady Margaret, under the Hydra label. Since
then, he has played in every state in the continental United States, and
every club on the blues circuit. There were also dazzling USO shows on a
Far East tour and memorable engagements at Mugen's in Tokyo and the 9000
Penthouse in Hollywood.
1994 Monterey Bay Blues Festival, 2000 Utrecht Blues Festival, 2006
Denmark, Sweden, and Norway tour. Plus a live recording in England.
Blues has been making a dramatic comeback, and Frank explains the
universal appeal to audiences of all ages and eclectic tastes: "Blues
Artists are great entertainers. They have heart and expression and
feeling, and this is what they give back to the audience." He adds, "I'm
from the old school. I love rhythm and blues -- I can't separate them."
And it's his touch of finesse that weds his poignant and personal
interpretation with the seductive sweet notes of his Ibanez guitar.
An example of his distinctive blues style that's gaining popularity is
"Money Don't Matter 2 Me, Doing Time, and No Moe" on his new CD, "Cry u
out of my heart." This latest achievement unmistakably locks it down,
stays in the pocket and holds the groove. It's the pure Frank Ace sound.
Frank Ace just released his new CD, "Live in England" and the re-release
of "It's About Time" with (2) Bonus Tracks from his 1964 Frank Ace
Combo. Influenced by vocalist Vernon Garrett, Frank adds his own singing
arrangement to melodic blues lyrics. He points out that the success of
his career has been helped along the way by many other talented people.
He thinks Carver Barnes (the bus driver in the Clint Eastwood movie, The
Gauntlet) had the biggest impact on his life. "Carver is just an
all-around nice guy," says Frank. "He instilled high standards and
ethics in us when we were kids. He believed in us, and told us we could
Today, Frank is proving that with his growing list of fans, and making
blues-lovers out of the uninitiated. He does it because Lou Rawls once
told him, "You want to get beyond just being a good band." This is the
challenge that has motivated him all of his life. The Frank Ace sound IS
the blues -- full-bodied, energized, synchronized and radiant -- making
it come alive on concert stages and blues clubs around the world.