Frankenpine is a Brooklyn-based string band with roots reaching from the subway platforms of the city up the Hudson Valley to the crooked mountains of the Adirondacks. The banjo and fiddle in its ranks give it a touch of bluegrass, but the band’s original music draws on a wide range of influences—everything from blues to gypsy jazz to rock to old-time. Its lyrics are similarly eclectic, exploring themes of loss and ambition; telling the stories of outlaws and the outspoken. The result is a set of songs with propulsive rhythms and searing solos, tight arrangements and soaring vocal harmonies
The band formed as a trio in 2007 and has since grown to include Kim and Matthew Chase, Liz Bisbee, Ned P. Rauch, Colin DeHond and sometimes Andy Mullen. They play acoustic and resonator guitars, mandolin, bass, fiddle, harmonica, banjo, accordion, percussion and whatever else is within reach. The band has appeared on WNYC, WKCR (Columbia University’s radio station) and North Country Public Radio and performs regularly around New York City. Frankenpine recently completed a year-long residency at the Lakeside Lounge, in the East Village, and released its debut full-length album, The Crooked Mountain, in December of 2010.
Kim Chase has been singing more or less since she learned to walk. Along with Matthew, she founded Frankenpine in 2007, back when she played a black guitar. She comes from Massachusetts, but her path to New York led her first to Colorado, where she stared down a wolf (really, it’s true) and then to New Hampshire, where she earned her master’s in environmental science. She knows an awful lot about plants, too, and works for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, but now she’s concentrating on growing Ollie, her and Matthew’s son.
Kim sings and plays rhythm guitar, mandolin, percussion and kazoo.
Matthew Chase, Frankenpine's resident historian (it was he, for example, who looked at an old map of New York City, spotted Blackwell Island, dug a bit and came up with a new song), co-founded the band. He’s lived all around the world, playing didjeridoo in Australia and dodging teachers’ rulers in England. These days he stares at pictures of banjos the way grease monkeys stare at pinups and works as an art director. Everything you’re looking at now, save for these letters, is his work. He builds his own banjos and used to own an art gallery.
Matthew plays banjo.
Liz Bisbee, another Bay Stater, is a recovering classical violinist. As a kid, she spent more hours playing scales, perfecting intonation and studying Bach than most children her age spend bugging their siblings. Then she quit. A few years and an epiphany later, and she became a real-deal fiddler. She’s one of the few people associated with the band who can read music the way the most folks read the Sunday funnies. Liz is also a scientist, and has cloned things. Harmless things, mostly, but still, it’s impressive. Also, she may be a genius.
Liz plays fiddle and viola and sings.
Ned P. Rauch was born in Argentina and has lived in four different New York counties, including two in the Adirondacks. He started playing guitar in second grade, when he performed “Camptown Races” at a recital. It went so well he immediately quit. In high school, he was cut from the choir. In college, he took two semesters of banjo lessons because the girl he was dating told him it’d be cool. It goes down as the only time in history a girl told a guy he’d be cooler if he played the banjo. Like Superman, he is a journalist by day.
Ned plays lead guitar and mandolin and sings.
Colin DeHond grew up among the Adirondack mountains with two brothers and a penchant for the low notes. For years he was his town’s bass player, enlisted by band after band to take care of the bottom end. And as any decent bass player should, he adopted peculiar sartorial preferences. Often his clothes had more pockets than a billiards hall. But that’s behind him. Colin is a skilled botanist, but that hasn’t boxed him in. Since moving to New York City, he’s read “Moby Dick,” learned the subway system and greatly enriched the lives of everyone he’s met.
Colin plays upright and electric bass and sings.