Donavon Frankenreiter brings his good vibes to Vail’s 8150 | VailDaily.com
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Donavon Frankenreiter brings his good vibes to Vail’s 8150

Ted Alvarez
Frankenreiter is passing both his musical and surfing legacy on to his son, Hendrix: "He's been out surfing with me and snowboarding in Vail. He also bangs on the drums and just loves making noise."
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“Hendrix! Hendrix, come here!”On a routine tour stop in Salt Lake City, Donavon Frankenreiter chases after his 4-year old son, whose laughter and shrieks carry clearly over a squeaky cell phone connection; his wife, pregnant with their second child, laughs nearby. Perhaps not the drugs-n-groupies scene one might expect from an ordinary rock musician on a tour bus, but then again, Donavon Frankenreiter is no ordinary musician.”Almost any kid at 4 is just ready to go,” Frankenreiter says, apologizing. “I always bring them out with me on tour – they’ve got a threshold of about three weeks, but it’s really nice to start a tour this way and I’m lucky that I get to do that. I couldn’t be away for three months – that’s suicide.”

Frankenreiter’s life reflects his music: A former pro surfer sponsored by Billabong, he met fellow surfer Jack Johnson and rented a home from Johnson’s parents in Hawaii. The two became fast friends and learned to play guitar together, transferring a passion for the waves into laid-back, acoustic tunes that serve as the aural equivalent of swinging in a beach-side hammock by the fire at sunset. Frankenreiter released his first record on Johnson’s Brushfire label, and the two have toured extensively together, often with G. Love in tow.”Anything Jack wants to do I’m really into,” Frankenreiter says. “Jack, G. Love and I had such a great time playing together – we had some great times up on stage.”For his most recent release, “Move By Yourself,” Frankenreiter stretched from his acoustic roots and focused on recording as a full band. While the end result retains Frankenreiter’s essential sun-kissed flavor, the introduction of gospel harmonies, ’70s keys and an occasional plugged-in guitar solo leads to a funkier, more soulful day at the beach.”I still wrote everything on an acoustic (guitar), but now that I have a band I really went into the recording process ready to take advantage of that,” Frankenreiter says. “We basically just plugged in everything and turned it up a bit.”Story of the seaOne constant in Frankenreiter’s music will always remain: He draws musical, physical and emotional strength from the ocean and the natural world, and whether he’s cooing a love song or belting out a breakup anthem, Mother Nature is looking over his shoulder.

“Surfing makes me feel so good inside; you could be having the worst day in your life, and you get out there and it changes your whole perspective in the world – you say, ‘I’m so lucky to be able to be alive,'” Frankenreiter says. “I get a similar thing out of music – there could be hard moments, but you get onstage and everyone comes together and it’s a celebration. Every wave is different, every concert is different.”Frankenreiter is so connected to the ocean that he can sense when he’s been away too long – as if a part of him has dried up and needs to feel the brine again.”I’d almost get grumpy after a couple of months not being near the ocean,” he says. “All I need is 30 minutes back in the sea, and then I can last a couple of months. Which is good, because I can tour the middle (of the country) and get to see all kinds of crazy, trippy places I wouldn’t visit otherwise.”Though the California-born Frankenreiter is a child of the sea, he finds the serenity of the mountains comes in a close second place, and riders are the same everywhere, even if their waves are frozen solid.”I love being in the mountains – there’s nothing quite like it,” Frankenreiter says. “We ride waves, but those guys ride mountains, and the camaraderie that develops is really the same; you get that same tight-knit group.”Though Frankenreiter snowboards from time to time, he avoids riding on tour, despite the temptation.

“If I ate s*** on tour and broke a wrist or something, it would jeopardize everyone who’s working with me, not to mention the fans who paid to see me,” Frankenreiter says. “Besides, I don’t want to just go down – I’d want to go off a jump or something, and that’d be the end of me.”Still, Frankenreiter plans to enjoy himself in Vail, a town he’s grown fond of after playing 8150 four or five times. Frankenreiter is also known for staging impromptu in-store jam sessions at Billabong stores, so fans may want to haunt the Vail location Saturday.”I always have a great time in Vail – I’m looking forward to just walking around town and shopping with my family,” he says. “I’ve stopped in and played before, so maybe people should be on the lookout; maybe I’ll do a surprise something.”Arts & Entertainment writer Ted Alvarez can be reached at 748-2939 or talvarez@vaildaily.com.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado


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