Donavon Frankereiter rides wave of a successful notion

As a professional surfer, Donavon Frankenreiter proved himself to be a brave man. He’s also fearless as a musician who recorded an entire studio album while streaming live on the internet.

Donavon Frankenreiter
Frankenreiter isn’t afraid of big waves or big ideas.

The idea came to him after he performed a concert online at Blue Rock Studios, near Austin, Texas. A year later he recorded “The Heart,” his most recent album, in the same studio.

“It was a little nerve wracking the first day,” Frankenreiter told Tahoe Onstage. “You get that in your head, ‘Oh God, people are watching,’ and that can twist you up. It was a great, super fun experiment.

“It could have gone either way. The first day, if it would have been a disaster, I would have been a little nervous. I knew the songs we wanted to record and I basically knew the way I wanted to do them but you never know what’s going to happen when you go into the studio. I had a lot of fun doing it and it was fun for the fans. They were able to see the process of how a song starts and then teaching it to the bass player and the drummer, cutting those tracks and adding some stuff.”

Frankenreiter recorded 10 songs during 10 day-long sessions. Viewers were able to participate by asking questions, passing along observations and participating in a Martin guitar giveaway each day.

“Time just flies by when you are in the studio,” Frankenreiter said. “Ten hours goes by quick. There could have been a big debate or a meltdown. It could have been funny. I thought that was a great concept because it’s impossible to sell records anymore.”

Frankenreiter said he will record his next album in September at the conclusion of his busy summer of touring. He said he was grateful to “get his foot in the door” of the music industry before everything changed.

Because of the decline of record and CD sales, most artists make most of their money by performing live, which has benefited Lake Tahoe-area fans of live music and venues such as the Crystal Bay Casino, which has become a nationally renowned music venue in the last decade.

On Sunday, Frankenreiter will make his sixth Crown Room appearance since he began touring 15 years ago. Another artist who first gained fame as a surfer, Tom Curren, will open the show.

“It’s a great sounding room and historic sound board,” Frankenreiter said. “It’s a really neat place. I really like to walk all around it. There are crystals everywhere. It’s a great sounding room and that’s half the battle with a lot of venues.

“We will play in trio. We will play songs from every record we’ve put out and a couple from ‘Recycled Recipies,’ my EP of covers, so it’s a lot of fun. We do stuff electric, do stuff acoustic and the other two guys sing as well. It’s a really nice, full sounding band. I like playing with these guys.”

Frankenreiter’s music career is successful enough that he doesn’t have to win any more surfing contests to make a living and to continue to reside in his adopted home in Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands. He said he’s not a superstar but thought of the possibility of one taking his idea of recording and album live on the internet.

“Maybe they would have a million records sold by the time they got done with it,” he said. “You’d have millions of people who would log on or click on it for $10. They’s say, ‘I can view the making of this record and then they are going to sell it to me? Epic.’ They could sell millions of records before it’s even finished.

“It could be a Neil Young or Tom Petty or a John Mayer. Imagine if Justin Bieber did that? He’s got friggin’ millions of teenybopper fans. They’d all log on and pay $10 for the record. It would be crazy, crazy. It would be coming out No. 1 first day with crazy sales. It was a really fun experiment for us and I’d do it again.”

  • Donavon Frankenreiter
    Opener: Tom Curren
    When: 9 p.m. Sunday, June 19
    Where: Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room
    Tickets: $17 in advance or $20 on the day of the show

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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