Roots, Americana singer-songwriter Liz Frame is gearing up for a full length CD Release. Her drop date will be sometime this spring, and she’s excited to get another Liz Frame And The Kickers album out to the public. Her next album will be more hard hitting. Her first full length CD didn’t feature a drum set, relying only on a cajone for percussion sounds. Her current backing band also features more rock and roll electric guitar and electric bass.
“It definitely has some quieter moments,” Frame added. Her poignant new song “Little Brown House,” that’s been getting some attention lately, will appear on the upcoming disc. The singer-songwriter was inspired to compost it by a family she had known during her childhood. The father was raising two children on his own because their mother had taken her own life. Years later, their father too his own life as well. Their son and then their daughter too became suicides, each killing themselves in different decades. The girl’s own daughter had given to Frame the address of her mother’s house that she had grown up in. It was a little brown house.
“It was the saddest little brown house I had ever seen,” Frame said. “I just sat there for a little while in the car and looked at the house and thought right then and there, I have to write about this.” After a couple of months, sitting in her writing room, she sat down with her guitar and started strumming. “Immediately,” she said, “the tag of the chorus, the repetitiveness of that tag, just came out of me. I knew that was going to be the tag and I knew that was going to be the tempo. And, that song wrote itself in maybe an hour. It’s one of my favorites. When I do it live, I do it selectively, it has to be the right kind of room for me to do it. But, nine times out of ten I become quite emotional, especially if I share with the audience the story behind the song. I really have to fight back the tears.”
Frame has been a prolific songwriter for many years. She and her band came up with an EP in 2014. It was a follow up to her 2011 full length CD titled Sooner. It was no burden to release another disc so soon after the previous. “It’s not hard to do. You just have to be motivated to do it,” she said. “I had the material. I’ve got tons of material. I could easily go in. If I had more money, I’d be recording all the time.” It is important to release material as often as possible.
Frame got interested in the roots, Americana music that’s made her a household name in Boston during her childhood. Her parents’ record collection included country music, Jimmy Rogers, Muddy Waters, The Weavers, and The Rolling Stones.
“I just started playing a lot of Rolling Stones songs,” Frame said. “That was how I first taught myself how to play. I bought a book of Rolling Stones with the chord progressions in the book. I started playing these simple rock and roll songs. I think Americana is at its best with simple rock and roll.”
A huge influence on Frame throughout her life was Kris Kristopherson. His lyrics made an impression, especially when she used to watch her mother listening to his records. “I was really impressed with the simplicity of his songwriting and the depth of it and his delivery, his voice. He’s not the best singer in the world, but he’s the best singer for his material. Whenever I sit down to write, I always have him in the back of my mind. He’s just kind of my yardstick.”
Frame also likes songwriters like Tom Petty, Joni Mitchell, and Chrissie Hynde because they are judicious with their words, how they edit themselves. “They’re not sloppy, they’re tight songwriters,” Frame said. “And they deliver their own material really well.”
Unlike her experience writing “Little Brown House,” Frame’s songwriting is usually not inspired. She will not sit around waiting for inspiration to occur. She will force herself to work. “You can’t be lazy,” she said. “You have to make time for it. You can’t always wait for motivation. I had songs that I had no idea were even in me until I sat down and started strumming my guitar. I had no idea what was going to come out and until I just started playing around with some chords. I don’t really work by inspiration. I work more by nose to the grindstone sort of thing.”
Frame’s 2011 release Sooner was prompted by the 2007 death of her mother. Frame didn’t write that album about her mom or her loss. Losing her mom had been the push that got Frame to jump back into publicly performing. She had stepped away from the difficult music industry while also moving from Boston to Newburyport. “I wasn’t performing. That bummed my mother out because she loved the fact that I was a performing musician. She was always nagging me to get up there and sing, and I was always reticent to do it. After she passed away in 2007, I realized that life is very short, and that we should be spending it doing what we love most. Out of respect for her and in honor of her I was open again to the idea of getting out there and playing live.”
That decision was made ten years ago. Her next was to go to an open mic in Newburyport, and it snowballed from there. She’s now playing out much more than ever before.
The singer-songwriter seems better off playing gigs outside of the city. Frame had been put off by the lack of money involved with playing in Boston, the venues which expect bands to play for free. She didn’t use her Boston track record to book her band into national venues. She instead visited the websites of local bands who had already made the move to national tours to find out where they were playing in other cities and towns across the United States. Relentless, she politely hit them up over and over again.
“Finally, one or two of them says ’OK,’ you can say to the next venue ’I played this room, I’ve played that room,’ then things start to fall into place. It takes hours and hours and hours of work to book something like that.,” she said.
It helps to have a good backing band behind her. Guitarist Patrick Chamberlin, bassist Sean Hennessy, and drummer Peter Whitehead round out her sound. “This incarnation of my band is the best it’s ever been,” she said. “Everybody knows their instrument really well, plays it really well. Everybody is committed to the project one hundred percent.”
For the foreseeable future, Frame would like to keep her band playing out live. “I’m so grateful for all the support the band has gotten over these ten years,” she said. “Certainly, in our hometown we know nothing but love and support from the people of Newburyport and the surrounding communities. We just feel really lucky to be able to share ourselves creatively and get the kind of response that we do from folks.”