frank lee

frank lee


As a founding member of The Freight Hoppers and as a solo artist, Frank Lee has presented traditional music from the rural South to audiences all over North America and Europe. Archaic country blues and mountain music on fretless banjo and resonator/slide guitar.


A passion for traditional songs and tunes from the rural South has fueled Frank's love of performing for the past 30 years. As a founding member of the Freight Hoppers, he has shared this passion with audiences all over the United States and Canada, as well as much of Northern Europe. He presents a range of old-time music that spans from raw Blues from the Mississippi delta, to the hillbilly music recorded in the South in the 1920's.

Growing up just south of Atlanta, Frank recalls hearing stories about the exploits of his banjo-playing grandfathers, as well as hearing about Fiddlin' John Carson and Riley Puckett. As a kid a neighbor introduced him to the music of Ralph Stanley, Frank became fascinated by the banjo. Immediately after high school graduation, Frank broke his femur in a motorcycle racing accident. His father bought him a banjo to pass the time in traction, and Frank's been playing ever since.

Frank began giving banjo lessons while he was in art school, and in the mid-80's started traveling with Clearwater, a bluegrass band that toured throughout the U.S. and released an acclaimed album, Willow of Time (produced by Rhonda Vincent). His focus gradually moved toward older, more archaic styles of Southern music. Clawhammer banjo styles took his attention away from the slick 3 finger bluegrass styles.

A few years later Frank moved to Bryson City, NC to take a job playing music for the tourists on the Great Smoky Mountain Railway, where he met fiddler David Bass. The two of them began playing old-time music at the train depot in Bryson City, and the Freight Hoppers stringband grew out of this gig. The daily work of the depot created a particularly tight band sound, and the group placed first in the stringband competition at the Appalachian Stringband Music Festival (a.k.a. Clifftop), appeared on A Prairie Home Companion, and signed on with Rounder Records.

The Freight Hoppers toured extensively throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe, released three albums, and achieved a level of public recognition previously unheard of for a modern old-time band. Frank's old-time banjo playing can be heard on the three Freight Hopper albums, as well on a Freight Hoppers live concert video. He has a banjo instructional video out on Homespun Video. Two more recent cds, Artseen and Two Mules are available also. Slide guitar has become a part of Frank's concerts. A 1932 National Steel Duolian was added to the arsenal of banjos, along with a love for the oldest recorded blues players from the South, Son House, Willie Brown, and Blind Willie Johnson. Spirituals and blues round out a performance of unique arrangements of Old-time music from the deep Southeast.


Where'd you Come From (Rounder Records),
Waiting on the Gravy Train (Rounder Records),
Artseen, independant release,2004
Two Mules, with Adam Tanner, Old97wreckords
Going Down The Track With A Chicken On My Back.

Set List

Gallows Pole (from Leadbelly)
Riley the Furniture Man (from the Cofer Bros)
Keep My Skillet Good And Greasy (from Uncle Dave)
God Don't Like It (from Willy McTell and Gid Tanner)
What you Gonna Do When Your Liquor Gives Out
(from Fiddlin' John Carson)
Black Bottom Blues (from The Cofer Bros)
Ragged and Dirty ( from Willy Brown)
Uncle Ned (from Fiddlin' John)
When I Was A Cowboy (from Leadbelly)
The Sailor and the Soldier( from Mike Seager)
Arkansas Sheik (from Riley Puckett)
The Farmer is the Man Who Feeds Them All
(from Fiddlin' John)
I've Always Been A Rambler (from Grayson and Whitter)
Lost John(from RL Burnside and Burnett & Rutherford)
Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning
(from Fred McDowell)
Sets are 50 minutes to 1 hour long