Next Show

March 5th, 2016
Saturday, 5pm

In-store performance at the famous Music Millennium record store, Portland, OR

Free! Hank will be there with his full band.

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New poster

It's solid! Instantly classes up any room. Click here to check it out.

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Dying jazz

There was a good opinion piece recently in the Wall Street Journal, titled “Can Jazz Be Saved?”  It quoted some statistics to drive home the point that jazz listening is down 30%, just in the past six years. 

Surely this is no surprise to most people.  But the author, Terry Teachout, makes a keen observation…

What does this tell us? I suspect it means, among other things, that the average American now sees jazz as a form of high art. Nor should this come as a surprise to anyone, since most of the jazz musicians that I know feel pretty much the same way. They regard themselves as artists, not entertainers, masters of a musical language that is comparable in seriousness to classical music—and just as off-putting to pop-loving listeners who have no more use for Wynton Marsalis than they do for Felix Mendelssohn.

Interesting thought.  Jazz changed from entertainment to “art”.  The jazz musician started caring less about pleasing the audience and more about pursuing their “vision”.  And if the audience is lucky, they get to watch.

As late as the early ’50s, jazz was still for the most part a genuinely popular music, a utilitarian, song-based idiom to which ordinary people could dance if they felt like it. But by the ’60s, it had evolved into a challenging concert music whose complexities repelled many of the same youngsters who were falling hard for rock and soul.

I guess that’s why I identify with the musicians and music of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.  To me, it’s all about communicating with the audience and having a good time together. 

Otherwise, I might as well stay home and play in my room, for myself.

Hank's gear

SoloampCome to a Hank Sinatra show and this is what I’ll be using.
For a more complete descussion of the equipment, check out the “Gear” page under “About”.

Guitar
My main axe these days is a Taylor 914CE flatop six-string.  It’s a really great guitar, but perhaps a little too bright for the Hank sound.  I haven’t found an archtop yet that suits me, but I’ll keep looking. 

Amplifier/P.A.
The Hank sound is all about the vocals (described as “two parts Nat, one part Frank, with a dash of Willie”) so it was important to have an excellent P.A. system to deliver that sound to a room full of people in a small to mid-size venue.  I’ve been using a Fishman SoloAmp for about six months and it’s doing a great job.

The sound is good enough that other musicians often ask about the Fishman system, with the comment Hanks-micthat they’ve got to check it out for their own use.   

Microphone
After a lot of searching, I ended up with the Neumann KMS-104.  This is a beautiful microphone, maybe the best in the world for vocal performance. The only downside may be that it’s a condenser mic, which requires 48v phantom power. 

Guitar strings
I use Extra Life Acoustic strings from DR Strings, in a medium-light gauge.

Hank-pickGuitar picks
 I used to use an ordinary medium nylon pick, but now I depend on a Dunlop 207 Jazztone, in a 2mm thickness. I modify my picks for extra grip and control, by drilling six or more large holes.  No kidding.

Cables
I’m using Lyric Evidence Audio cables for both guitar and vocal, and they are terrific.  The only downside is that they are pretty stiff, which makes them easy to trip on. 
I found a great resource at Lava Cable.  Check them out.

That’s it.  Now you know how to get that Hank sound.  (Oh, and just add Hank.)

Wedding Singer

Hanks gives the gift of his song

Hank gives the gift of his song

A few weeks ago, Hank and his honey attended the wedding of long-time friends, Adam and Jenny DuVander.

At the reception, word got around that Hank was ‘in the house’ (as the kids say), and I was asked to sing for the happy couple. 

(Interesting tidbit… South of the border, the name of Hank Sinatra is not commonly recognized.  Instead, Hank is known as “El Romantico” or “Senor Romantico”, on account of his heartfelt renditions of popular love songs.)

But back to the wedding…
Every musician knows how many ways an innocent request like this can go so very, very wrong.  You need an instrument with an amp, the PA has to work properly (enough volume without feedback), a decent microphone – the planets have to align.

Fortunately, a trio was swinging some great acoustic jazz at the event (the Djangophiles, not to be confused with “The Django Files”, a short-lived tv show on A&E about a gypsy guitarist who investigated paranormal events.) 
And they were glad to lend one of the guitars.  Very nice.

Now I needed a microphone.  Of course, the jazz group was stricly instrumental.  But there was a house PA that wasn’t in use.  Someone fortunately knew how to power it up, and there was even a boom stand for the dynamic mic.  Sweet.

The announcement went out, and the freshly minted bride and groom made their way to the front of the room to stand while Hank delivered his song.

It was one of those rare moments when everything came off perfectly.
I sang “I Love You (for Sentimental Reasons)”, which is always a favorite. The background chatter quickly died as the room became silent to give their full attention to the song.  It went really well.  Then I quickly left the stage before my luck changed.

Best wishes to Adam and Jenny for a wonderful future together!

New Poster

Click for the full-size version

Click for the full-size version

We had a lot of fun creating this new poster, with retro fonts and cool 50’s lingo like “Dynaflow-smooth vocals” and “jet-propelled swing.”

These are going in and around places where I’ll be appearing, but you can get your own personal copy today!

Just click here to download the full-size deluxe 11″ x 14″ version (suitable for framing or gift-giving.)

(Please be patient if you get a ‘file not found’ message or the fonts appear funny at first.  It’s a big file, and takes a few seconds to fully download.)

Howdy - from Hank!

Hank-hat-carHey, Hank Sinatra here!
We don’t have much of a site right now, because I’m busy creating a new one and it will be ready in a few days.

Check back soon, or better yet – click here to sign up to receive periodic emails from me about when and where I will be playing next, and when the site is ready for your visit.