Shovelman
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Shovelman

San Francisco, California, United States

San Francisco, California, United States
Band Folk

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A marriage between folk and electronica was destined, so if Shovelman hadn’t come along someone would have had to invent him.

Why “Shovelman?” Well, because he plays a snow shovel rigged to be a combination fret-less guitar and percussion instrument. Said shovel feeds its sounds into an array of samplers, compressors and other foot-operated gizmos to put the tronic in folktronica.

Every song is mixed from scratch, starting with a simple beat which Shovelman will sample and build upon while layer after layer becomes less folk and more tronic. The result is an interesting melange of bluesman Robert Johnson, beatnik poetry, no wavers Pere Ubu, Nick Cave and off-beat rapper MC 900' Jesus.

Hicks with Sticks saw Shovelman at a recent Amnesia show and it was clear that there would be difficulty translating his playing into a sound file because a good part of the entertainment is watching him craft the songs on the spot. The Dirty West CD would have been helped by a video track. Come to think of it, this review will make more sense with a video track like “Excavating the Future.” Come for the folk, stay for the tronic. - Hicks With Sticks


"Shovelman's music would be playing on the radio if Tom Waits and Les Claypool ever went on a road trip together ......and were lost." - Chip -So Wat TV Santa Cruz


“Isaac Frankle (Shovelman) is a musical wiz kid.” - Goodtimes Santa Cruz


After learning about the KGB orchestrated birth of the theremin and the beginning of electronic music as we now know it, I began to fear that all of humanity’s greatest moments of musical ingenuity may already be behind us. At least those with any sort of practical application (for a completely impractical but equally radical modern invention, check out the theremin’s cousin, drawdio).

That fear dissipated when a friend pointed me in the direction of one Isaac “Shovelman” Frankle.

Part shovel, part man (no, not really), Shovelman takes sonic ingenuity to a new level by a) playing a steel guitar made out of a giant shovel, and b) making really good music with it. Music that could still garner a following even if Frankle were merely Regularsteelguitarman.

Citing such obvious influences as Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen, and some less-then-obvious influences including Sun Ra, space ships, and moldy bread, Shovelman’s music sounds as at home in today’s metropolitan indie venues as it would have sixty years ago in the bayous of Louisiana. Don’t be fooled by the large landscaping tool he wields — Shovelman knows music.

Bottom line, oddity or not, Shovelman is just the kind of off-kilter kick in the pants modern music might need to keep things interesting. Who knows? Maybe he’ll inspire some of us to put down our high tech gadgetry and start looking at low-tech objects with a new sense of purpose.


- Melissa Tan is a runway model and bacon aficionado who covers fashion events for Examiner.com. When she’s not writing, she can be found hunting for new music or the perfect hot dog. Usually at the same time. - The Rumpus.net


Discography

The Dirty West

Photos

Bio

Shovelman is a junkyard beatnik, a shovel guitar wielding surrealist folk superhero. Armed with a collection of pawnshop effects pedals and an old barn-shovel turned slide-guitar, Shovelman plays ol’ fashioned folktronica-grooves looped straight out of the ground. The sounds of Mississippi deltablues from the electro-psychedelic future, collide with the antiquated rubble of lyrical one-man-band hoboetry. Recently Shovelman has played the west coast festival circuit (Health and Harmony, Lightning in a Bottle, Earthdance, Art Outside, Oregon Country Fair and more) sharing stages with Primus, Beats Antique and The Yard Dogs Road Show.

“Isaac Frankle is a musical wiz kid.” - Christa Martin, The Goodtimes Santa Cruz, 2006

"Shovelman's music would be playing on the radio if Tom Waits and Les Claypool ever went on a road trip together ......and were lost." - Chip, 'So Wat TV

"The results are in and the decision is final. If ever I'm looking for a lead shovel, or if anyone is for that matter, Shovelman is the first and only logical choice." -Klaus Flouride, The Dead Kennedys

"Now and then you think you've seen all the shoot you're going to see...then, out of the ether, comes Shovelman and when he's got the slide on those strings and he's singing those old time songs, he's bringing you back the days of LPs and a decade old needle on the living room floor..." - JJ Schultz, Host of SF Bay Guardian's best open mic - The Hotel Utah Saloon

"Isaac Frankle -'Shovel Man' Is not just a Guitarist, Singer, Lyricist but a Percussionist Harmonica Player Instrument Inventor Artist/Scientist & Sound Sculptor 'Shovel Man' will, without a doubt, blow your mind away, and then some! UNREAL Is his talent! I, literally, think he's from The Future and has a Time Machine tucked in his back pocket which he uses to travel back & forth from the 30's Missisppi Delta Blues to early & current Tom Waits to Appalachian Roots Music to 60's & 70's Funk & Soul 80's Experimental Synth & Punk back to the Contempory Nashville Folk scene & Underground Loop Artists of today Exploring the boundless nature of Earth's Eclectic Music and perhaps introducing us to the future of it, as well Summoning the likes of Les Claypool, Beck, Leonard Cohen, Nirvana, Bob Dylan and a host of influential sound makers of old & now Blending them all into something that resembles A Young Unassuming Chap & A Wacked-Out Antique Shovel What follows the assembly of this One Man Dimension Hopping Troubadour is nothing less than astonishing!!" -Jonathan Siegel, San Francisco's 'Poetry Mission'