Beyond the Music: Scott Franson

Scott Franson has been an OBXer for more than 20 years. As a musician, he's well-rounded, playing bass, piano, drums, and mandolin.

If Scott Franson were a brick and mortar structure, he’d be considered an OBX landmark. Like a lighthouse. Not only is he talented in a plethora of ways, he’s very opinionated with respect to how he views music and his place in it — that’s because he has a story to tell. Sure, as a looper user, I respect his choice not to use it as a tool, but I admire the fact that he doesn’t, because he’s talented enough not to use it at a tool.

Q: If you’re not a native, what brought you to the Outer Banks?

A: We came to the Outer Banks when I was a kid on vacation. I came here for a weekend when I was almost finished with music school; here I am over 20 years later, and still here.

Q: How would you describe your music?

A: I play mostly acoustic music when I'm out at a public job. My goal is to try to play something the people in front of me will enjoy. It’s not at all about me in these situations.

Q: Who is your greatest musical influence?

A: Anybody who has the drive and willingness to put in the time to do it well inspires me. Watching a beginner make drastic improvements motivates me to do the same. I also find it very inspiring running a recording studio; in this environment I get to bring peoples dreams and auditory “visions” to life.

Q: What is it about music that touched you?

A: When it gives me goose bumps. It can be any type of music, almost...no rap or opera please. From a live sound engineer’s standpoint, I get to really see how a live band’s performance can affect the audience, and if I am doing my job well, this touches everybody.

Q: What was the first concert you attended?

A: Joe Walsh. A friend of my brother’s parents won tickets, and I wound up going also. It was fun, but my first Grateful Dead concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion in 1983…that blew me away.

Q: Are you self-taught?

A: Yes, and no. Aren't we all self-taught in addition to whatever else we pick up along the way from everyone around us? I had private guitar lessons my senior year in high school, in Northern Virginia. I also attended Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond and earned a BA in performance of Spanish/classical guitar, with a minor in piano.

Q: Besides guitar what other instruments do you play?

A: Bass, piano, drums, mandolin, Pro Tools. Yes, I consider my self-taught knowledge of Pro Tools to be an instrument.

Q: How many different musical projects are you involved in?

A: Currently, only one with other musicians. A trio called King Tide. A King Tide is when there is a simultaneous full moon and high tide. The band consists of me on guitar/vocals, Shaun Oakley from Venice, Florida, on bass/vocals, and Jimmy Flower from Mahopac, New York, on drums/vocals.

Q: Musicians usually play for those “moments” when everything clicks. Do you have a favorite?

A: Whenever I make someone happy… that’s my moment. It only takes one. I got a note in my tip jar the other night that said: “You're amazing! I love your guitar playing and singing! You made my day! Salad girl #1.” That made my whole week. There was over $100 in the tip jar that night, but it was the note that was special.

Q: What do you do in the off-season?

A: I run a recording studio, The Ranch. I also provide live sound support and do this year round. This winter, I plan on spending in the Sarasota Florida area working with my King Tide trio and also providing live sound. Maybe working in a studio there.

Q: Was there a person that motivated you to pursue music?

A: I had a few friends in elementary school who played and got me interested. Also, I have an older cousin who is a multi-instrumentalist. He was in the Air Force. He took a Gibson SG and a Pignose amp on the planes. I thought that was cool.

Q: If you could perform with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

A: Duh…Jerry Garcia.

Q: Is there a song you wished you'd written?

A: “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd.

Q: If you could choose one time period in which to perform music, what would it?

A: Here and now. I love the technology. I sound better than ever using today’s gear.

Q: Do you listen to new music?

A: I listen to whatever I am working on in the studio, mostly. I am really liking Chris Stapleton, lately.

Q: Did you ever consider quitting music?

A: Nope, I just adjust as it changes. Wear the musician hat, the producer hat, and the live engineer hat. As my body gets older, I will do more production and less playing.

Q: McCartney or Lennon?

A: Straight up refusal to pick one.... they both have their good and bad points. Maybe for the same reason, when I'm asked at a show what I think of the mix, my standard response is: “It's live music, just enjoy it.”

A: Robinson High School Battle of the Bands, Fairfax, Virginia. We were called Equinox. The drummer and I were in 10th grade, and the bass player and other guitarist/singer were in 8th grade. I did my first solo acoustic performance at Wilmers Park in Maryland in 1986.

Q: When you write a song, is it positive or negative inspiration that drives you?

A: Both, they usually just come to me. I just catch them as they pass by when I can.

Q: Do you have any hobbies that aren’t music-related?

A: Yard work. Beach. Sleep. That's a hobby, right?

Q: Your favorite album?

A: Rolling Stones, “Exile on Main Street.” Every song gives me goose bumps.

Q: Your favorite song?

A: Too many to nail this down, and I'm easily distracted, so it changes daily. But, today I like "What Are You Listening To?" by Chris Stapleton

Transplanted to the Outer Banks from the wilds of the L.A. area, singer-songwriter Scott Sechman has shared stages with Bill Medley, Tom Rush, Al Wilson, and the Grass Roots during his ongoing music career. His column, Beyond the Music, appears Fridays in COAST.

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