Frank Krupit, Guitarist’s Guitarist 1951 – 2024

 A man of many talents, Frank Krupit has left this mortal coil

“We bonded over post-rehearsal Guinness and cheeseburgers at Woodrow’s in lower Manhattan, where I’d hear tales of Frank’s years as the captain of a fishing vessel, and the tours of Ireland backing up the Anglo-Irish band Celtic Spirit.”

Frank Krupit was a guitarist of joyful skill and dedication and one of the finest men I have ever been privileged to know. He was much more than a guitarist, of course, but I met him through the many Martinfest gatherings, where he featured his chops in countless jam session and we became brothers-in-music over the years. Frank’s passing today after a long illness was not a surprise so much as deeply regrettable expectation that would have come too soon in any case.

In 2013, I was honored to be asked by retired Broadway actor Paul Ukena Jr. to join him in a guitar trio, featuring early and mid-century swing, jazz, and show tunes, with Paul’s clear baritone voice at the microphone and “Left Frank Krupit” and I on guitar accompaniment, taking turns playing time or lead, melody or harmony, and weaving three-guitar tapestries, greatly informed by Frank’s decades of playing Jazz, Rock, and Pop music. Here are excerpts from the Paul Ukena Trio’s very first “real gig.”

Frank earned his degree in music and played in various groups early on. After raising a family and enjoying years as an amateur hockey player, he returned to renewed interest in playing music on his left-handed guitars, which had led to his early nickname of “Lefty” and the later “Left Frank.”

Collaborator with so many during so many lovely, musical hours, on acoustic guitars at Martinfest, but also cranking it up on electric guitars when playing with full bands, like D.O.R.K.F (the initials of the band members.) Frank reveled in learning the note for note solos of classics like Sultans of Swing and Honky Tonk Woman.

D.O.R.K.Fest was a very special night indeed. The band members would practice for a year at home on their own, then gather for one lone rehearsal the night before they played four or five hours of classic rock in a hotel bar for their many friends, and the delighted hotel guests lucky enough to be there. Frank and Maury Rutch sharing in lead guitar duties and garnering standing ovations on duets like Reelin’ in the Years and Hotel California. But here Maury is covering the bass duties while I make a rare guest appearance on electric guitar and the late (great) Greg Kendig joins as guest vocalist. (I only discovered this video a few minutes ago!)

Frank could play in many styles, from Fats Waller and Duke Ellington to Dire Straits and of course the Beatles. Some of my favorite memories include Frank co-hosting a Beatles sing-a-long with Mike Bono on the last night of Martinfest. For years they would sit down and play every Beatles song they could think of, taking requests, but they would only play a song once during the evening, and still manage to play Beatles songs non-stop from the hours of the packed hotel lounge to the wee hours near dawn for the lingering diehards who just didn’t want Martinfest to end. Frank knew all the lead guitar parts, all the solos, even the keyboard solos that he would play with his left-handed Martin OM-28V. I must assume his seeing the Fab Four at Shea Stadium in 1965 had a lasting impression the young lad he was back then. (Video cued up to 8:27)

In later years, Frank played a Custom Shop OM with a cutaway, Carpathian spruce top, and Madagascar rosewood back and sides, which he adored like an adopted child. Here heard on Fats Waller’s Bran’ New Suit.

And Chuck Berry’s C’est La Vie.

Frank and I bonded over Guinness and cheeseburgers at Woodrow’s in lower Manhattan, after Wednesday morning rehearsals at BMI’s 7 World Trade Center offices, where the president gave the trio a conference room because he and Frank came up together in the 38 years Frank worked there before he retired. ‘d hear lunchtime tales of Frank’s years as the captain of a fishing vessel, as well as his photographic memory of the NY Rangers ups and downs, and his tours of Ireland backing up the Anglo-Irish band Celtic Spirit.

He was a connoisseur of a fine, rich stout, and a fine, rich family life. Frank and his adorable wife Maria raised to two fine sons together, and spent many rich and wonderful years going to see their favorite indie artists and major touring acts in concert.

Frank Krupit earned and enjoyed a life well-lived. His solos Frank from the years we spent as sidemen for Paul Ukena have been popping in my head all week, perhaps through some cosmic connection. If anyone deserves to be issued a celestial harp, it is Frank Krupit, the left-handed model, of course.

Frankie Baby, who loves ya’? We ALL do.

And that is one man’s word on my brother-in-music Frank Krupit.

Here’s of Frank’s musical gift he dolled out over the years. I will miss that chemistry and collaboration forever. And never can I lift a Guinness without thinking of my brother-in-music. Sláinte!

Lady Be Good by Irving George and Ira Gershwin

Cheek to Cheek by Irving Berlin

Y Tu, Que Has Hecho from Buena Vista Social Club

Long May You Run by Neil Young. Long may Frank’s music run on Youtube!

Martinfest 15 – A Big Success

Martinfest is the annual gathering of the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum

Taking place in and around Nazareth, Pennsylvania, home of Martin Guitars, the 15th Martinfest was a successful mixture of tradition and new directions.

Here is a video of just some of the amazing instruments I and others got to play at Martinfest 15, over the first weekend of August, 2016, all of them made by C. F. Martin & Co, est. 1833.

Those guitars referred to as “converted” typically started as Martins from the 1950s or 1960s. which had aged gracefully, or been through some hard times, before they were re-topped and braced to be much more like the Martin guitars of the 1930s than most modern guitars. The conversions in this video were all accomplished by master craftsman who honed their skills at the Martin factory for decades, before going into “private practice.”

A Wonderful Annual Party

As described in greater detail elsewhere, Martinfest consists of a friendly gathering of guitarists from all levels of skill and varied musical tastes, along with their friends and family members. This year there were some 180 people registered, although they didn’t all stay at the main hotel.

During the days, we congregated at Nazareth’s Boro Park (Friday and Sunday) and the town center for the Martin on Main street fair (Saturday.) The evenings consisted of all-night reveling and music making at the hotel. This year, we were joined by the one and only Laurence Juber, one of the world’s best guitarists. LJ was our special guest at Maritnfest 5 and Martinfest 10.

It was a new hotel this year, for the very first time. And while it may be too far from Nazareth to become our new home, it was a very good stop-gap place to stay and play.

Here is a video showing some of the goings on, but only representing a fraction of the people who actually attended the overall event.

Details of the 2016 Martinfest events, and in depth descriptions of some of the guitars can be read at the UMGF in my personal Martinfest Journal of Adventure.

Below is a picture by famed photog Robert Corwin, showing your humble Spoon playing a 1930 OM-45 De Luxe.

Spoon Phillips plays 1930 Martin OM-45 De Luxe photo: Robert Corwin

photo: R. Corwin

One of 11 made, it among the most valuable guitars ever built. Since I was asked to demonstrate the one at the Martin Museum on that Friday night, I may be the only person in history to play two of these less than two days apart since they were shipped from Nazareth in 1930.

Yeah, Martinfest is that kind of event.

Martinfest 12 – Annual gathering of Martin guitar lovers

The Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum has thousands of members world wide. The small percentage who make the trek to Nazareth, PA to meet in person at their annual get-together have formed an extended family beyond what normally comes from meeting people from the internet.

“It is the rare sort of bond normally reserved for old army buddies, or the lifelong friendships formed during one’s college years. They sometimes find it hard to explain to their spouses or family and friends back home, so they will bring them along and let them see for themselves…

While other guitar brands have their loyal fans, none seem to evoke as much reverence and affection from their admirers as Martin, and this has led people from greatly diverse backgrounds to find they share a similar love of music that transcends their many differences…

Republicans room with Democrats, liberals stay up till dawn with the conservatives they looked so forward to seeing after a year apart; even Yankees fans find themselves warmly embraced by fans of the Tigers, Oriels and Red Sox. From the Oscar winner to the homemaker, the CPA to the MBA, all and all, they have found common ground in this most unpretentious celebration rooted in the love of music and Martin guitars…

As one member put it, “Music is a unifying force that reaches across many boundaries and brings people together in very deep and lasting ways.” Martinfest is living proof of that.”

Read the full Article on Martinfest 12

Martinfest lounge singalong