My name is Frank D Howe (born 12th May 1945 and registered Franklyn Desmond Howe – which I always found way too much of a name to carry) and here are some basics about me and my long love of Country music.
I was born the week the 2nd World War (in Europe) ended to Norfolk-born parents who happened to be in Bishops Stortford, Herts, at the time, so I guess that makes me a ‘foreigner’ in my own home county of Norfolk where my roots go back to the sixteen hundreds on both sides (beyond which church records were too damaged by damp to get back any further). So even though my National Registration Identity Card stamped 2 JUN 45 shows Brooke, Norwich, Norfolk, as my address (and where my father was working on the land on the estate of Lord Mackintosh of Rowntree Mackintosh fame), I can’t truly claim to be a Norfolk-man, although I don’t know how to be or how to feel like anything else.
Back then the BBC was the only UK licensed broadcaster and the ‘Home Service’ or ‘Light Service’ the only real choices of clear signal listening even likely to appeal, but sadly neither of which were broadcasting anything that interested me as a youngster except; ‘The Goon Show’ and ‘Journey Into Space’. However, if you were a dial twizler there were stations on ‘come and go strength signals,’ that appealed more! My favourite being AFN (American Forces Network) which in Norfolk held a pretty good signal strength due to the number of US bases here. It was different to the always BBC English (posh) spoken Light & Home stations as on AFN their grammar and phrasing was a lot more like our daily East Anglian way of talking and especially on shows like The Smoky Mountain Music Show there where singers of often self written and simply presented story songs of life (that got dubbed Country Music) that frequently mentioned hard work (often on the land) like I could see all around me and associate with! I loved it and have continued to love that thing called Country Music ever since (check out my song; ‘Sippin’ Cold Tea’ which reflects on my childhood and how things have gone since as I see it).
With this love of Country being rooted deep in my veins I have done many things to help keep it supported including Country shows on Hospital Radio (Cromer) way back, and covering the East Anglia region for many Country Music papers and magazines most of which have died out along with their owners/editors over the years. although the Eastern Daily Press, in which I did the Country Music ‘What’s On’ for eleven years (until that feature was dropped) is of course still going strong.
Almost inevitably, with my land based country boy upbringing and great love of ‘Country,’ I would have a go at writing songs in that style myself and although I was once offered management by a man with the real Jewish ‘Music industry’ name of Maurice Burman (who was manager of several known artistes back then including Helen Shapiro of ‘Walking Back To Happiness’ fame). He had a large office suite on Baker Street! So yes, in my own small way I had that Baker Street (by Gerry Rafferty) experience. However, my wife never wanted me to do it so I buckled to her wishes and never took that offer up – so dropped the singing but still kept writing songs! Some of which ended up being put on a CD called; ‘Some Thought’s I have had Vol 1., when she and I ended up under different roofs (years later when I was sixty) and all of which tracks were played on UKCountryRadio.com and one of which tracks got voted up to #5 in the UK & Irish CM Charts (thanks).
That turned down offer thing (when I was young and strong and kinda fit) was my big chance blown perhaps but as I was as nervous as a rabbit in a ferret pen every time I had to open my mouth to sing in public (still am really to be fair) and was capable of earning decant money with my hands I never took much persuading to give up on the singing, but like I say; I did keep on writing and over the years must have written hundreds if not thousands of Country songs though most got lost when moving from place to place as I was never great at filing and safe storage and a lot were on scrap pieces of wood or ply or whatever lay handy when I was working as a carpenter. On top of which I have a memory like a sieve and for me it’s much easier to write new than remember what’s gone.
With all that said about lost songs, overt nervousness of singing in public, lack of self belief and lost opportunity, I hear there’s now considered no barriers for an older person to have a go at life so here I am with my own Record Label (Drifting Ploughboy Records Ltd.) and PRS/PPL registered Publishing Co (Flattnoffki Music Ltd. – read that name out loud in four syllables the first being Flatt for the hidden country style humour in it) and in defiance of my heavy load of caring for my partner which as any carer will confirm takes a lot of time and effort. I’m ready to have another go at last and am now not only releasing a self penned Christmas Song called ‘Love Came Down At Christmas,’ a duet with long time friend and also Norfolk based Country singer Julie Dawn.
I also have been putting a lot of what free time I do have into a new album, probably titled; ‘Happy Man,’ which hopefully will be ready for release in the spring or early summer so stand by for a single or two from that to be early released in the near future.