Larry Franklin — Texas native returning home in October

| September 10, 2016 | Reply
Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

Mary Jane Farmer, Scene In Town — This article first appeared in Buddy Magazine, September 2016 issue.

Growing up in Whitewright, Texas, The Time Jumpers’ and Nashville studio fiddler Larry Franklin said the only music he heard was fiddle music and it was just natural he was hit with the music bug.

Larry is the great-nephew of Major Franklin and son of Louis Franklin, both world fiddle champions. “And it was not just my dad and uncle,” he said, “most of the better Texas-style fiddler players were friends and got together on weekends for jam sessions and fiddle contests. Until I started going to school, the only music I heard was the fiddle and what I heard in church. We kids would just play all day and all night as they played fiddle and gradually some of us began picking up the fiddle.”

It was Bob Wills who “kind of generated all this interest in fiddle, and my dad’s generation enjoyed that the most.” He said there wasn’t any bluegrass in the area at that time, and so western swing it was for all of them.

Once he was in school, Larry said, his classmates “gradually found out I was a fiddler and went to contests, and saw articles in newspapers and magazines. Then, I played at a PTA meeting. The other kids weren’t sure what to think about it, and I didn’t realize nobody else even knew what a fiddle was. It was a cool way to grow up.”

As one of three fiddlers in The Time Jumpers, Larry keeps his Texas style and western swing fiddle roots alive. It sort of began for Larry when he moved to Austin, and played guitar and fiddle in Cooder Brown, which he described as typical rock n roll and blues band. Then, he established his own band, again playing guitar and fiddle. But the break came when he signed on with the premier western swing band, Asleep At The Wheel, where he only took his fiddle out of the case. “I honed in on that style of music, once I figured out what they were doing.”

But, Nashville called, and Larry answered the call. “When I moved to Nashville, I became a recording (studio) musician, so I had to be versatile. There wasn’t much swing music to be recorded, and some artists wanted bluegrass and some southern rock — whatever the style of the day was.” He’s played with Ray Price and Mel Tillis, twin fiddled around with Johnny Gimble. He played on Miranda Lambert’s CD, Platinum; and the whole band, The Time Jumpers, have had a strong part of Willie Nelson’s latest CD project, as yet completed, which is a tribute to the late Ray Price.

Larry said he has no idea how many recording projects he’s been included in. “It would be nice to know. I was real busy for a long time, during the 1990s and for the first five or six years into 2000. We were making records every day. Everybody was doing well, during that time. It changed a lot, though. I now have a small home studio and I can record here for people. A lot of musicians do that now.”

"Kid Sister" by The Time Jumpers

“Kid Sister” by The Time Jumpers

One project The Time Jumpers have been really busy on lately is the recording of their latest CD, “Kid Sister,” with songs honoring Dawn Sears, their female vocalist who passed away in 2014 from lung cancer. The title song and another, “I Miss You,” are tributes to Mrs. Sears. Then, it jumps right back into swing mode with “San Antonio Rose.” Then, there’s the “This Heartache,” written by Kenny Sears, and other songs pay homage to the band’s late member. “We did our best to honor her, and she sings on a couple of songs in this album,” said Larry. “Kid Sister” is available now on iTunes. Franklin said they hope to have the entire project completed and printed before they play the Bob Wills Fiddle Festival in Greenville. It will be

available on Rounder Records.

Larry joined The Time Jumpers in May 2010. “The reason I remember it so well… the date that I was supposed to start was the weekend we had the big flood in Nashville. I thought, ‘I don’t know if God’s trying to tell me something here, but it gives me one more week to get ready.’” he said, tongue-in-cheek.

“Now I am back to playing Texas swing, again with three fiddles. I had never been in a band with other fiddlers . Now I play with two others. (Kenny Sears and Joe Spivey.)

The Time Jumpers brings me back to my roots, brings me back home again,” said the Whitewright native, who added that he’s now spent 25 years in Nashville.

The Time Jumpers, led by Kenny Sears and fronted by Vince Gill and “Ranger Doug” Green, (the Idol of American Youth when with his other group, Riders In The Sky) will be playing, again at this year’s Bob Wills Fiddle Festival in Greenville on Saturday, October 8, along with another Western Swing Band, The Tulsa Playboys. That whole Greenville weekend

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

will have fiddles sounding out from every proverbial corner, what with other swing bands playing including Asleep At The Wheels, The Cherokee Maidens, and the fiddle contest going on Friday and Saturday.

Playing alongside Vince Gill and Ranger Doug will be Brad Albin on bass, Paul Franklin (no kin to Larry) on steel, Andy Reese on guitar, Jeff Taylor on accordion, and Billy Thomas on drums. Oh, and the three fiddlers — Joe Spivey, Kenny Sears, and Larry Franklin.

“The Franklin limb of the family tree is kind of going away,” Larry contemplated. He’s close to his nephew, Jason Andrew, who still lives in Whitewright and who still plays fiddle. “But I don’t get back here near as often as I’d like.”

The Time Jumpers play about 25 or 30 road shows each year, spicing that up with the almost-always Monday nights at the Nashville venue, 3rd & Lindsley. So many of the 10 members are in other bands with other schedules as well. “Everybody is happy with that,” Larry added. “And any show in Texas is a highlight for me.”

The Time Jumpers will be playing at the Greenville Municipal Auditorium, with showtime for them and the co-billed The Western Flyers, at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, October 8. For more information on this show, go online to ShowtimeAtTheGMA.com and for all of the Bob Wills Fiddle Festival weekend to GreenvilleChamber.com

For more information on The Time Jumpers, go to their Website, TheTimeJumpers.com

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Category: *- Features, 2016

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