No shows booked at the moment.
Singer-songwriter Frank Randall, a New York transplant, along with drummer and Austin, MN native David Downey formed the Sycamores in Minneapolis in 1990, amidst a roots rock resurgence which included the likes of Uncle Tupelo, Jayhawks, Gear Daddies and Rank Strangers. Live performance began in earnest throughout 1991, and two live recordings (“Morning Glory,” “Amaze Me”) from 1992 were ultimately released on the flexible compendium from Brooklyn’s Rag and Bone Shop label, “Handle Like Eggs.” Crackpot Records in Minneapolis followed in 1993 with the three song “Self-Titled EP,” (featuring “Red Wing Boots”). Sessions recorded at Paisley Park (1993) and The Terrarium (1994) resulted in their their full length debut album, “The Sycamores” (released early 1995), again on Rag and Bone Shop. Produced by Mark Lerner and Tom Herbers, “The Sycamores” features a virtual who’s who of Twin Cities alternative country scene (circa 1994) backing the band’s expanding repertoire (“My Blue Collar,” “Hard Years,” “Local Sinners,” etc.). The dynamic lineup of Randall, Downey, bassists Nick Ciola and Paul Novak also made room for featured performers Jon Duncan, Adam Levy, Dave Boquist, Slim Dunlap, John Eller, and Mike Wisti.
1995 found the band seeking a more flexible recording environment, and Randall’s next round of material was developed in the creative atmosphere of Mike Wisti’s fledgling Albatross Studios. Notable among the contributors was Cannon Falls, MN native Jim Johnson on pedal steel guitar (whose deft touch on the instrument would greatly inform the band’s sound on subsequent efforts) along with keyboardist Jon Duncan and guitarists Slim Dunlap and Jacques Wait. The resulting “Listening Skills Program,” released in 1996 by Veto Records, met with critical praise and an expanding audience, spearheaded by tracks such as “American Son” and “True Religion” and live performances featuring Christine Sanguinet on bass and backing vocals.
Returning to Albatross in 1998, and joined by new bass player Heath Henjum (Violet, The Beatifics), sessions for a third album ran from the raucous (“Silom,” “Shake It If You Got It”) to the sublime (“About to Meet You,” “Sitting on the Amp”), and resulted in “Realizer” (released Spring 1999), again on Veto Records. Another notable newcomer to the proceedings was Brooklyn-based guitarist Chris Erikson (Matt Keating, Charlie Chesterman, Jay Sherman-Godfrey, Spike Priggen, Good Loser Club), who lended an individual style on both guitar and backing vocals. “Got Love” would be tapped for the “Hit the Hay 3” compilation from the Sweden’s Sound Asleep Records (1999), and “Freedom Rock” would eventually surface in the soundtrack to the Karen Moncrieff film “Blue Car” (2002).
In summer 2001, the core of Randall, Downey, Henjum and Johnson began sessions for a fourth album with Tom Herbers, now working out of his Third Ear Studios. Only occasionally performing, continued focus on recording from this point forward produced an abundance of material through 2006, only some of which has seen the light of day. Three seasonal tracks were collected and issued on the limited edition “Three French Hens” from Rag and Bone Shop (2003). An homage to Godard-muse “Anna Karina” was picked for Sound Asleep’s “Hit the Hay 7” compiliation (2004).
Side projects along the way for Randall, Downey and Johnson have included “Ono” (1999, Veto) the debut album from Van Gogh’s Ear, and “Good Loser Club” (2006, Rag and Bone Shop), a full length collaboration between Randall, Mark Lerner, Mark Donato, and Chris Erikson. Most recently, Randall has taken his turn in a supporting role for Pete Hofmann and the Measured Doses (bass, guitar), as well as writing and performing solo – and occasionally in tandem with Brooklyn’s Chris Erikson and the Wayward Puritans.