Liz Frame and the Kickers
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Liz Frame and the Kickers

Newburyport, Massachusetts, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

Newburyport, Massachusetts, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Americana Country




"Old School Record Review Interview Series"

Listen to this recent podcast interview of Liz Frame talking about the new ep "Justine" and the songwriting process. - Old School Record Review

"Get to Know Liz Frame and the Kickers"

In reading up about your early musical influences, I'd have to say that it's unlikely that many kids your age were listening to Jimmie Rogers, Elvis Presley or B.B. King. Did you or could you relate to other artists that were perhaps a bit more contemporary?

Absolutely! There were countless times in my young life when I wanted to run screaming from the house because my father was on his Jimmie Rogers jag, or my mother had played her Billie Holiday records one-too-many times. I loved the stuff my folks listened to for the most part but really started getting into my own preferences right around thirteen, when I became obsessed with The Rolling Stones. A little later on I started listening to Joni Mitchell, Roxy Music, Led Zeppelin, CSNY, etc, and then after that, in my late teens I became totally enthralled with New Wave. I still love it all.

You started to play guitar as a young teen. Did you teach yourself or did you take lessons? Did it come naturally or did you have to practice a lot?

I am essentially self-taught. As I got better and older, I made sure to surround myself with other players who would show me stuff, and I still do. I’m working with a young man right now in the studio -- this great engineer/musician who is half my age. He plays guitar expertly and beautifully and way better than me! I’m picking his brain. He taught me this cool lick that he came up with and played on one of our recordings, and I’ve been practicing it so I can play it live.

As for practicing, as soon as I started playing guitar, I was hooked, so it didn’t take much to get me to practice. I still play just about every single day. I love it, and I do feel like it’s “my” instrument. I’ve tried to latch on to other instruments, like piano or mandolin, but they just don’t appeal to me the way a guitar does.

Did you begin writing at an early age?

Yes, I wrote my first song at nine years of age. Of course, I wasn’t playing guitar then, so I couldn’t accompany myself. But I had the melody and lyrics in my head and I sang them! Once I started playing guitar, the whole songwrittng thing really took off for me.

But even before songwriting, I was writing. I started keeping a diary as a young girl. In high school I wrote for the school paper. I was an English major in college. I’m a wordsmith, I guess.

Your first CD, Sooner, received some very nice praise including comparisons to the Indigo Girls and Lucinda Williams. Tell us about working with some of our great local session players like Duke Levine, Kevin Barry and Bobby Keyes on that album.

It was terrific! Bobby was the first person I got introduced to and he was instrumental in bringing in Duke and Kevin because he knows them personally. I recorded “Sooner” in Bobby’s studio and he was there pretty much the entire time, so he had a lot of influence on the sound. He played on several cuts and it was thrilling to have such talent contributing to my record. That was the case with Kevin and Duke, too. Duke, in particular, was amazing. He just showed up with his guitar, sat down, and played. It was effortless and beautiful. All three of these guys are experts -- pros -- and it spoiled me, frankly, because I could get used to working with a batch of guys like that!

How does your forthcoming album compare to your debut?

It is definitely more hard-hitting. “Sooner” was recorded with no drums, just a cajone and other percussive stuff. This new record has drums and electric bass guitar, which we also did not have on “Sooner.” And the new material, the stuff I’ve been writing for the last few years, reflects that harder sound. When the Kickers first got started, we were very acoustic -- again, no drums, just a cajone. Five years later, we pretty much rock out, thanks to Pat Chamberlin, my guitar player, and Pete Walsh, my drummer.

But both records are firmly entrenched in the Americana/Alt-country sound that we love so much, so I think our fans will be happy.

What's the longest tour you've been on? Are you the kind of musician who thrives on playing in different places every night? Is it tough landing in a new city and not knowing anyone and trying to make new fans?

We are newbies when it comes to touring but we are fast getting the hang of it!Last year was essentially our first time out on the road, and it was for three weeks, along the mid-Atlantic, more or less. We loved it! None of us wanted to come home! We all loved playing different venues, meeting new people, travelling to towns we’d never been to. This summer we’ll be out for just over two weeks, hitting a lot of the places we did last year, but also some new ones -- like the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, and Hill Country BBQ in DC and New York. And of course, we close the tour with our appearance at Falcon Ridge, which we are very excited about.

What's in store for you and the Kickers?

More recording and more touring. The cd that’s about to come out will be an ep -- four or five songs. We’ll put another one out before the end of the year and be back out on the road in the fall. We’re firming up dates for that now.

More long-term, we just see ourselves continuing to write and play and tour, hopefully getting into more fests, better venues, etc. The band is on this great trajectory right now and we are certainly ready for it. We are all in this for the long, wonderful haul. - No Depression

"Review of Liz Frame and the Kickers at NEAF 2013"

Some nice words here in No Depression! - No Depression

"Review of Sooner in Sing Out!"

Nice review in the esteemed Sing Out! magazine. - Sing Out!

""A Well-honed Gem...""

Once in a while an album cuts right to your heart. Liz Frame and the Kickers Sooner is that record. Every track is a startling, well-honed gem filled with Liz's powerful, experience-rich vocals that sometimes suggest a cross between the passion of the Indigo Girls and the candor of Lucinda Williams. Above all, this is funky, flowing, electro-acoustic music with spirit and a positive world view, as in Win (a story song about conquering demons) and clever romancers Come Back to Me and God Doesn't Like His Women Left Alone. Frame has immense talent and the musicianship from the Kickers is stellar, augmented by some all-star Boston studio aces such as guitarists Bobby Keyes, Duke Levine, and Kevin Barry. Count yourself lucky if you get to hear this.

-- STEVE MORSE, former staff music critic at the Boston Globe who has contributed to Billboard and Rolling Stone and now teaches an online course in Rock History at Berklee College of Music - Private review

"Some kind words about the band and their music:"

“They blew me away!” Scott Hayward, Owner and booker/Tupelo Music Hall, Londonderry, NH

“It plain knocked me out...I don't get this excited about much these days. This one...sounds like a huge winner.”
--Howard Thompson, Music Director/WPKN

“Frame’s easygoing but emotional vibrato best recalls Mary Chapin Carpenter, perhaps the brightest spot in country music during an
otherwise dismal ’90s (sorry, Billy Ray Cyrus). But elements of Linda Ronstadt and Sheryl Crow seep in at the edges, and on songs
like the quiet, beseeching “Come Back To Me,” she exudes an after-midnight smokiness that evokes Patsy Cline at her most
--Peter Chianca/Wicked Local

“Labels like Americana and acoustic rock have been used, but I don’t feel they do this music justice. This is the sound of some kind of security… so if you like your electric twang along with your phosphor bronzes’ buzz, vocal harmonies sounding well south of where we are, and a knack for mature song-craft, you’ll dig this most definitely.”
--Mike Loce/The Noise, Boston, MA

“I...was profoundly impressed. Frame squarely belongs in the tradition of strong female singer-songwriters such as Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton and Eilen Jewell.”
--Scott Andrews/The Forecaster, Portland, ME
- Various

"Twang Nation Podcast 2012 has added one of our songs"

"God Doesn't Like His Women Left Alone" made it onto the first podcast of 2012 for Twang Nation! - Twang Nation

"Liz Frame and the Kickers"

Liz Frame and The Kickers

In an age of saccharine sentimentality and willowy vocals, Liz Frame offers a mature alternative. Her songs are soaked in the brine of experience, and she can knock down the walls with her powerful, far-ranging voice, which she ornaments with tasteful catches. Her music lies in that murky border between country, rock, folk and blues; call it "country chutzpah" if you must label it. Don't expect lame "baby, baby, you light up my world" lyrics; Frame sings: "I want to feel your love in my hands/ I want to feel the sweat in my pores." Oh, yeah. Put some edgy guitar and some sexy bass lines to that and it's get on board or get the hell out of the way. The Kickers is an apt name for Frame's band—like her, they are brassy, bold and rootsy. This is music that dances on the razor's edge between danger and ecstasy. Just like the deal really goes down outside of Fantasy Land. —Rob Weir
- The Valley Advocate

"Off-Center Views: Liz Frame's Music for Grownups"




* * * *

True story. I was walking down a Newburyport street last summer, spied an arts market, and then heard a voice that froze me in my tracks. It belonged to Liz Frame, who was providing some street entertainment with her band The Kickers. Check out her new CD and I sincerely doubt you’ll get much done until the last of its ten taut tracks has finished.

In an age of saccharine sentimentality and little girl whispers, Frame offers a mature alternative, both in her real life-marinated song themes and in her powerful far-ranging voice, which she ornaments with tasteful catches at appropriate moments. The music lies in that ineffable intersection between country, rock, folk, and blues. Call it country chutzpah if you have to call it anything. Don’t expect any of those lame “Baby, baby, you light up my world” kind of lyrics; a Frame sampler–all originals–includes: “Don’t take more than you can handle/Don’t chase what you can’t outrun/Don’t love nobody so much that you can’t watch them walk away/Don’t play with guns” and “I want to feel your love in my hands/I want to feel the sweat in my pores.” Oh yeah. Put some edgy electric guitar to that, add some sexy bass lines from Lynne Taylor, and it’s get-on-board or get-the-hell-out-of-the-way. The Kickers is an apt name for Frame’s band–like she, they are brassy, bold, and rootsy. This is music that dances on the razor’s edge between danger and ecstasy. You know–just like the deal really goes down outside of Fantasy Land.

So pay attention the next time you walk past an arts fair; you never know what diamond in the rough might lie amidst the spangled crocheted dolls.

You can sample Frame’s music on her Website:

Posted by Phoenix Brown & Lars Vigo

Movie Madness, Celtic Corner, Cranky Notions Acoustic Music Favorites, Pop-Rock World -

"Liz Frame and the Kickers Nov. 2011 Noise Magazine Feature"

by J. C. Lockwood
There’s always a danger of confusing artist and art or stories and storytellers, especially when dealing with first-person perspective—like on “Girl of Little Faith,” one of the tracks on “Sooner,” the bleak-but-cathartic debut album from Liz Frame & the Kickers, in which a life-hardened narrator who has been kicked around long enough to be drained of hope, faith, and even the possibility of redemption, rejects the old saw that good things come to those who wait. Nothing could be further from the truth for Frame, the Newburyport-based songwriter who decided to dive back in after nearly two decades away from the music scene and, much to her surprise, is making a big splash.
It wasn’t supposed to be a big deal, just playing out once in a while at open mikes, not so much trying to jump-start the career that would have or could have been if she hadn’t walked away from it all those years ago, as much as trying to provide a creative outlet for the music that, career or not, still bubbled up inside her. She made an impression quickly, picking up fans and accomplices—and, before she knew it, she had a band. “It all came together in such an effortless way, it just felt right,” she says.
The Kickers, which takes its name from a line in “Grievous Angel,” the Gram Parsons song, began playing out three years ago, building a reputation for country-based performances with solid playing, tight harmonies, and just plain looking good on stage. The Kickers started getting some traction. Their dance card started filling up. And they started playing some high-profile gigs, opening for, among others, the Mystix, a rootsy supergroup featuring ex-Duke & the Drivers frontman Jo Lilly. And now, with just one personnel change along the way, the band is ready to release its first full-length album, an all-original debut produced by Bobby Keyes, a local ace who has recorded and performed with everybody from Jerry Lee Lewis to Mary J. Blige.

Frame, 50, grew up in a musical family, listening to everything from Beethoven to BB King—“and absorbed most of it,” she says. She wrote her first song at nine, started playing guitar at 14. She knew what she wanted to do with her life. She bounced around a lot, landing in Boston in the 1980s. She jumped into the Hub’s country music/rockabilly scene, playing into the ’90s, fronting her own band, and getting interest from major and indie labels, but no deal. Then, in a story as old as the business itself, marriage and motherhood forced a decision: unless you’re willing to do 250 shows a year and schmooze full time—unless you’re willing to eat it, breathe it, live it every minute of every day—no one will give you the time of day.
She moved to Newburyport in 1993 to be closer to her parents, who had abandoned the city. The dream was still alive. Barely. She played out, she made contacts, generated some interest but, in the end, couldn’t go all in. The dream faded. Life intervened. She raised her daughter and found honest work, opening Fancy Schmancy, an artists’ outlet that also sells vintage jewelry and accessories in Newburyport and settled in for the long haul.
Things changed four years ago, when her mother died. “I decided life’s too short to not do the things you love,” says Frame. She hadn’t played guitar, let alone written anything substantial, in years, but she wanted to “get out.” She started playing out. She met percussionist Kristine Malpica, who ran Imagine Studios, a one-stop arts center in Amesbury, at an Imagine-sponsored open mike at the now-defunct J. Bucks. She introduced Frame and John Longo, late of Crazy Maggy, the furious North Shore-based rad-trad band fronted by E. J. Ouellette; bassist Lynne Taylor, a veteran of the Newburyport music scene, saw the trio play and wanted in.
The sound is not easy to nail down. It’s acoustic. There are no drums, per se. Malpica plays the cajone, a box-like instrument played by slapping the front face with your hands. But the unplugged sound is surprisingly effective raw—with that rawness tempered by sweet harmonies. Country? Yes. But more Bakersfield and Austin than Nashville. Sometimes there’s a taste of bluegrass and rockabilly. It has a tell-tale twang, but also a dusty soul vibe and—Frame does not apologize for this—a pop sensibility. Call it alt-country or Americana. Call it what you want. She cites the usual suspects—Haggard, Cash, Yokum and Lang—as major influences, but also names people like Fionna Apple and Aretha Franklin.
The band mixes it up in concert, playing originals and covers that are, alternatively, seemingly tailor-made for them, like the Stones’ “Dead Flowers,” or strikingly odd, like Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell”—even “Urgent,” the schlock staple of rock radio all those years ago—and, Frame admits, a guilty pleasure. All the covers are filtered through a country vibe. Shows would also have a kind of Carter Family feel, with Kicker family members t - The Noise/Novemeber 2011


Still working on that hot first release.



"After a superb debut entitled Sooner back in 2011, Liz Frame and the Kickers return with an equally excellent EP that confirms the quality evidenced the first time around. Frame is a terrific front woman...(and Justine) is an impressive snapshot of a group with a truly powerful potential."

--Lee Zimmerman/No Depression

"Liz Frame is one of the most compelling, interesting, and emotive voices I've heard in a long, long time...(S)he's someone who has to be heard!"

--Marian Levy/Rounder Records Founder

"Once in a while an album cuts right to your heart. Liz Frame and the Kickers' 'Sooner' is that record. Every track is a startling, well-honed gem filled with Liz's powerful, experience-rich vocals...Frame has immense talent and the musicianship from the Kickers is stellar...Count yourself lucky if you get to hear this."

-- Steve Morse/writer for The Boston Globe, Billboard and Rolling Stone.

Sounds that are gleaned from inspiration ultimately create a sound that inspires others. It’s a continuum that’s at the core of great music, music that exists for the ages and not merely within transitory circumstance. Indeed, Boston-based singer-songwriter Liz Frame knows this all too well. She was weened on the music of her parents’ generation, absorbing the influence of their heartland heroes -- immortal and iconic artists like Jimmie Rogers, The Weavers, B.B. King and Elvis Presley, to name but a few. It became deeply rooted in her musical psyche, so much so that she began writing her own music at the tender age of nine, and after picking up her first guitar at fourteen, it found her performing in front of audiences while still in her early teens. Not surprisingly, her music of choice was honest, unbridled Americana, a sound that continues to represent the disparate styles that captured her imagination so early on. 

Backed by her band, The Kickers -- Pat Chamberlin on lead guitars, Lynne Taylor on bass and Charlie Farr on drums -- Frame continues to write and perform with seemingly nonstop energy and enthusiasm. Yet it was the death of her beloved mother in 2007 that turned her focus entirely to her craft. Sooner, her full length debut, appeared in 2011 and featured a stellar line-up consisting of some of New England’s finest sessions players, among them Duke Levine, Kevin Barry and Bobby Keyes. Frame’s follow-up, the Justine EP, was released three years later and confirmed the savvy and intellect so evident the first time around. Moreover, it affirmed the fact that Frame is a fine front woman, a singer who possesses not only a cool confidence, but also an ideal blend of soul, sophistication and sensuality. The edge and deliberation inherent in “A Good Day to Say Goodbye,” the strains of bluegrass echoed in the title track, the restraint and remorse woven into “I Don’t Wanna Let You Go,” and the emotional, evocative finale, “The Secrets I Been Keeping” spotlight the band’s power and potential. 

Fortunately, their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. They’ve found their way into the choicest venues as they’ve worked their way from New England to the mid Atlantic, attracting rave notices along the way. Some critics have compared her singing to Patsy Cline and Linda Ronstadt, while others have noted similarities in her songwriting to the work of Dolly Parton and Lucinda Williams. At the same time, Frame and her colleagues have developed synergy with like-minded contemporaries as well, among them, Grammy Award winning producer and engineer Ducky Carlisle, and guitarist Stan Martin, a former member of the popular honky-tonk combo John Lincoln Wright. 

Tradition -- especially as it applies to Americana realms -- is something to cherish and admire. It takes both respect for one’s predecessors and the resolve to move those lessons forward to make a mark and create a lingering impact overall. Liz Frame and the Kickers have an ample supply of each, all the more reason to suspect that ongoing success can be assumed to be all but assured. 

--Lee Zimmerman

Writer/reviewer for American Songwriter, No Depression, New Times, Country Standard Time, Blurt, Relix, and M Music and Musicians 

Band Members