Chicago-based harmonica player and record producer Michael Frank is in the North Okanagan this week to perform and record with local guitarist Les Copeland

Chicago-based harmonica player and record producer Michael Frank is in the North Okanagan this week to perform and record with local guitarist Les Copeland

Friendship forged through the blues

Harmonica player Michael Frank is at Lorenzo’s Café this weekend to perform with Vernon guitarist Les Copeland and his band.

Chicago harmonica master and record label owner Michael Frank is about to regale with stories and songs when he pays the North Okanagan a visit this week.

The manager/sideman for late Delta blues artist and Grammy lifetime achievement award winner David “Honeyboy” Edwards is at Lorenzo’s Café this weekend to perform with Vernon guitarist Les Copeland and his band.

“(Frank) has many good stories about his years recording, managing and touring with the late Honeyboy Edwards and many other legends in the blues world,” said Copeland.

Copeland should know. He toured and recorded with Honeyboy Edwards when the bluesman was alive, and Frank is now his manager.

Frank’s history in the blues world is a fascinating one.

He  took up the harmonica and blues record collecting in junior high school in Pittsburgh, Penn. After graduating from college, he moved to the Windy City to practice social work in child welfare and to meet as many blues musicians as he could.

One of his encounters was with Honeyboy Edwards, already a well-regarded Delta blues recording artist, but who was then under-represented in getting decent musical jobs and in making new records.

Frank not only became Edwards’ manager, booking his shows,  but started playing the harmonica with the blues legend as a duo and in a four-piece blues band, playing festivals and venues worldwide.

In 1978, Frank started his Earwig Music Company to record and book under-represented blues musicians and to assist these artists in furthering their careers.

The label has since released 66 blues, jazz, gospel, and storytelling recordings, and has produced several recordings for other labels.

Frank will not only join Copeland on stage but is also producing the guitarist’s second album.

Copeland’s 2010 album, Don’t Let the Devil In, was produced by Frank and featured Edwards on two of its tracks, with Frank providing harmonica on another three.

Copeland’s new CD will be recorded in Vernon at The Groove Recording Studio and engineered by Greg Wenger. It will then be produced out of Frank’s Chicago studio.

The Les Copeland Band and Frank perform at Lorenzo’s, 901 Mabel Lake Rd., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Cover is $10. Call 250-838-6700 for reservations.