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Frank Shane


The Weavers paved the way for many groups in the late 50's and 60's. As Joe Klein, biographer of "Woody Guthrie: A Life"  said during a recent Folk Music Archives interview at the New Yorker: "I don't know if people would be playing banjo's today if it weren't for Pete Seeger."  Frank Shane was a product of that folk music period, and like Dave Guard and John Stewart of The Kingston Trio and Eric Weissberg of the Tarriers, he learned to play the banjo from Pete Seeger's  mimeographed book  "How to play  the 5-sting banjo." 

Photo Right: The Bitter End Cafe, 147  Bleeker Street, Greenwich Village, New  York, February 23, 1965.   "The  Cambridge  Singers"   L/R: John  Castronovo,  Fred Holmgren,  Suzanne  Stofflet and Frank Shane. 

  According to Shane, a founding member of The Cambridge Singers: 
  "I wore out the 7-inch vinyl record, but the Basic Strum, Double Thumbing, Hammering On, Three Finger Picking, and Frailing finally got us to the Village - - first playing in Washington Square by the fountain and than on "open mike" nights in places like the Cafe Wah and The Bitter End Cafe - - at the end of a gig you'd pass the hat around for tips - - if you got the hat back it was a good night!"   
He plays a Vega long neck 5-string banjo.  "I bought it at Manny's  on West 48th Street right here in New York  - - $283 bucks! - - - -   I still play it!"  

Photo Above:  Original 1960 second edition reprinting of "How to play the 5-string Banjo."
Pete Seeger said in 1960: "At the rate things are going, it will probably have to be reprinted again in 1962."    Pete Seeger         [Folk Music Archives Collection ]     Archive Note: Smithsonian Folkways has issued a Compact Disk #FM 8303  with both the CD and complete written instructions.  For More Information Click On Picture.

Reminiscing about The Bitter End Cafe Shane said, "Nobody wanted to become famous in the Village - - we just wanted to play, sing and have a good time - - and we did!" 

 Shane has known The Kingston Trio since 1962 and was first with them in New Jersey at South Mountain Arena, February 17, 1962 for a benefit performance.  He first interviewed Pete Seeger  while broadcasting for the ABC Radio Entertainment Network in the early 70's.  

  Frank Shane  started  his  broadcasting   career on  Philadelphia's  WRTI Radio.  He was  news  editor and producer-host of the syndicated radio interview show "Dialog." In New York he produced and hosted a radio telephone  call-in program and the live radio interview show, "SpeakOut." on the ABC American Entertainment Network.
Photo Above: Frank Shane at WRTI Radio
Interview: "Dialog"  Studio C
Photo: Marc Frantz 1968, Philadelphia Inquirer

He has written and produced radio and public affairs documentaries. It was in 1972 when doing a news documentary on the Sloop Clearwater in Beacon, New York that he met Pete Seeger.  Pete invited him to do an interview at his cabin. According to Shane, "Everything was going great until I mentioned that I played the 5-string banjo - - he jumped up and next thing I knew he put his 1945 handmade 5-string long neck in my lap  - - - I forgot every song I knew, but somehow my fingers were playing the "basic strum" to "Skip To My Lou"  from page 16 of his book! "
Photo Above: Shane on Shane
Frank Shane [R} interviews Bob Shane of The Kingston Trio
Interview in San Antonio Texas.
Photo: Doug Sehers, San Antonio Express
Click on Photo for The Kingston Trio

To Contact Frank Shane:  frankshane@folkmusicarchives.org

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