Performing as an electric bassist from the 1970's into the 21st century, composer, producer and band leader Frank Stokes was just old enough to stand on his own two feet when he began being dropped off to spend days let loose within a Downtown Brooklyn theatre where a relative worked, where backstage he met Alan Freed, saw Little Stevie Wonder with Murray The K and was inspired by Little Richard above all others. He found a spot for himself in the wings for years as tours came through, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Jerry Lee Lewis playing a piano with his feet, Bill Haley and the Comets, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, The Ronettes, Frank Stokes remembers the glow of a spotlight shining on Jackie Wilson, ten feet away. Playing bass in bars by fourteen he was known as 'The Iceman' when he anchored Osmosis, a nine piece funk band. Frank Stokes spent years auditioning and assembling bands, along the way jamming with Marky Ramone and Neon Leon, recording where tape was rolling, becoming known as a one man wall of sound by the time he joined Kongress in 1976, playing with acts like Suicide and the Dead Boys opening, headlining at Max's Kansas City for the Halloween show and playing outdoors on the steps of the Municipal Building at Brooklyn's Borough Hall September 18, 1976. Founded by Otto von Ruggins, Kongress was fronted by the Australian Society Of Magicians' Magician Of The Year, inventor of the Dancing Cane illusion, the late Geoffrey Crozier, whom Frank Stokes also backed in a second act known as Shanghai Side Show. With an electric chair onstage before Warhol painted his and with Crozier's cauldron sending a solid column of flame up eight feet high as potions simmered away Kongress was banned from CBGB's when a flash pot opened up and the heat singed Hilly's beard. Shanghai Side Show included jesting roadies working as clowns, with both acts featuring the use of trunkloads of props Crozier brought halfway around the world. Frank Stokes performed with a flamethrower firing off of a gas canister mounted on the back of the headstock of the bass he played for audiences as large as 150,000 people and Brooklyn block parties while headlining downtown and opening in Dover, New Jersey for acts including Jack Bruce. Shanghai Side Show appeared as an instant spectacle for startled onlookers when the crew tapped a light pole along Brooklyn's Shore Road. They also played at the Brooklyn disco where Saturday Night Fever was filmed before breaking up in 1979. Frank Stokes ran a Brooklyn recording studio as his evolution from fire breathing rock star to serious jazz composer was spurred on by a chance meeting with Jaco Pastorius. Walking from CBGB's after an audition Frank saw Jaco sitting under a tree with a basketball clutched to his stomach. They chatted, then two nights later Jaco surprised Frank by calling him. Frank had a car bring Jaco across the river. Jaco played Chromatic Fantasy on the bass scorched on the back of it's headstock by the flamethrower. With two musician friends Jaco spent the night on piano and drums. Frank played a song he'd just written, Prelude, and no, there wasn't the lecture Frank expected, Frank Stokes remembers Jaco being explicit, direct, urging him to form a band. From 1995 onward The Awakening has become that band and grown in scope to become what is now a high-energy production combining music and dance, Frank Stokes performing as an electric bassist with two drummers holding degrees from Berklee and Juilliard, one of whom, Randy Whitehead, also plays a Native American courting flute he carved himself. On percussion The Awakening features Bleu Ocean, famed for leading 35 snare drummers on Pink Floyd's album recording of Bring The Boys Back Home for The Wall. The Awakening Horns are Dave Morgan, a tenor, flute and clarinet player praised by The New York Times for his work with Ornette Coleman, and Mac Gollehon, a trumpet master whose credits include work with Jaco Pastorius, Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen. Bandleader Frank Stokes is also a painter and fine line illustrator working to honor his Native American heritage, producing a drawing or series of drawings to set the scene as each of his songs uses the power of music to tell a story. Dance floor grooves, Native American, Latin, Funk and World rhythms are combined with more contemplative numbers to stimulate mind, body and spirit, sending healing energy in all directions.
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