Randall Franks and David Davis strike a chord with God's Children CD -
0' Brother duets and other Appalachian style hymns
When a former NBC and CBS star, Randall Franks, best known as "Officer
Randy Goode" on TV's "In the Heat of the Night" decided he wanted to step back
to the sounds of the 1930's. He never knew his project "God's Children" would coincide with the biggest phenomena to hit Appalachian style music since Flatt and Scruggs, the soundtrack to "0' Brother Where Art Thou."
"My style of writing has always tended to be more traditional," Franks said. "I wanted to do something that reflected the sounds which folks in the South listened to in the thirties and forties."
In 1999, Franks enlisted longtime acclaimed Rounder/Rebel recording artist David Davis to add the tenor and mandolin parts to the duo as he carried the guitar and most of the lead vocals.
"David was a perfect choice," he said. "He established himself and his act as one of the most popular traditionalists in a time when many in the field were going more progressive with their sound. He has that heartfelt, high lonesome sound which epitomizes what the project was about."
The duo combines their efforts for both new material and standards such as
"Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms," and "This Little
Light of Mine." A less common duet comes from Franks' admiration of early WSB
Barndance stars James and Martha Carson.
"Since I was in high school, I've wanted to record 'I'll Shout and Shine,'" he said.
Former Capitol recording artist James Carson a.k.a. James W. Roberts shared
his unreleased forties composition "Must Be a Reason" which he allowed Randall to rewrite in as new direction.
"The song had a different message back then," Franks said. "I was honored that James would have faith in me to bring it new life for this project"
Franks said he was elated folks around the country are received his project so well and it was included among the top 30 bluegrass recordings of 2000.
Franks, who is no stranger to the bluegrass sound, was a member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys, and performed with the Jim and Jesse Show, The Marksmen Quartet, Jeff & Sheri Easter, Doodle and the Golden River Grass, The Lewis Family, Marty Hays plus other special guests to round out the CD.
"The late Cotton and Jane Carrier of the WSB Barndance and Singing cowboy Ramblin' "Doc" Tommy Scott all lived through this period and were among the artists folks were listening to back," Franks said. "It is a privilege to have them play a part.
Franks also did not hesitate to call on a TV buddy to bring a unique performance to a recitation.
"I grew up watching Sonny Shroyer as "Enos" from the Dukes of Hazzard," he said. "I wanted someone who would make the piece memorable like Walter Brennan did for 'Old Rivers: I knew Sonny had what it would take to bring 'Children In Need.'"
Unlike his prior fiddle driven projects, being known as the Appalachian Ambassador of the Fiddle, Franks could not resist like brother Birch Monroe did for the Monroe Brothers to fill in here and there.
While a couple of the songs are not duets, his Appalachian folk tale "The Old Black Fiddle" is a testament to his fiddlin' roots. "My great grandpa A.J. "Harve" Franks played an old black fiddle which I have heard about all my life," he said. "This story intertwines the legend of the fiddle with the legendary contest when Johnny was tempted by the old devil down in Georgia. The tale was truly heaven sent."
While working on this recording Randall appeared in Dolly Parton's "Blue Valley Songbird" and co-starred in the Hallmark Hall of Fame's "The Flamingo Rising" with William Hurt for CBS.
"This project would not have been possible without David, Marty, Sonny, Tommy, Cotton and Jane are who really make it something to enjoy," he said. "Without them, it would just be me and my old guitar."
"Children in Need" and "Old Black Fiddle" were both released to radio as singles.
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot © 2000 Randall Franks and David Davis/Peach Picked Pub./BMI
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms © 2000 Randall Franks/Peach Picked Pub./BMI
Recordings from "God's Children" © 2000 Crimson Records