With a brand new voice, local rocker Frank Allison is back on stage after battle with vocal disorder
photo by Karie Dorsten
Happily, Allison has lately stepped back onto the local live music circuit, and he will perform an acoustic show Saturday night at The Yellow Barn in Ann Arbor. Detroit area singer-songwriter Audra Kubat is also on the bill.
“I feel like a bird that hasn’t flown in a long time—the chicken finally gets to fly,” said Allison when asked how it feels to be able to perform again. “The more I work the better (my voice) seems to work. I still have problems in my speech though, especially if I’m upset. But I don’t seem to have the problem singing, at least not much.”
Allison said he started his recovery slowly, recording a couple of homespun albums a few years back. “I didn’t work with anyone; I just worked on my voice,” he explained, “and it was a good experience to sit quiet in the room and just sing to the microphone. Eventually I got better. I couldn’t sing and play a song at the same time—that came later.”
He said fans who remember him from the days when he and his band, the Odd Sox, were a top draw on the local music scene—roughly the mid-1980s to the mid-90s—should know that his voice still doesn’t sound the same as it did back then.
“It’s apples and oranges—it’s certainly not the voice I had originally. But it’s nicer in other ways. It has it’s own qualities. It’s a new voice. I don’t know if it feels good for anybody else, but it feels good for me,” he laughed.
“It was just when I turned 50 that I started playing again, it was my present to myself that I was going to start playing again,” he added.Allison said he hopes the Yellow Barn gig will go monthly, the last Saturday of each month. On the 30th, he will take turns playing solo acoustic tunes with Kubat.
For the show, expect a mix of new material and even an occasional Odd Sox tune. Frank plays the baritone ukulele, with drummer Rob Hejna (from the Odd Sox), and his wife Karie Dorsten on rubber-band bass (“It has a nice ‘bloopy’ sound,” said Allison). His son Julian even plays the euphonium on a tune.
Besides the Yellow Barn, Allison expects to perform at Hollerfest in August, and is doing a once-monthly show at the historic Clinton Theater, which he and Karie own. All the money he makes from shows such as the one at The Yellow Barn he’s putting into a fund set up to eventually purchase digital projection equipment for the movie house.
“We'll need to update sometime, maybe in the next five years. ... The writing is on the wall,” he said.