Frank Wakefield is truly one of a kind. His “backwards talking” and “Jesus loves His mandolin player” numbers would be enough to ensure that, but he is also one of the greatest mandolin players to ever play bluegrass. He was born in Tennessee, moving to Dayton in 1950. He and his brother Ralph appeared on WHIO in Dayton as the Wakefield Brothers. In 1952, he met Red Allen and the two of them worked together on and off for twenty years. In 1953, Frank wrote “New Camptown Races” and recorded it on Detroit’s Wayside label. In 1957, he, Red Allen, and Red Spurlock recorded as The Red Heads for Les Bodine’s BMC label in Dayton. Frank went East and worked with the Greenbriar Boys, the Country Classics, and the Good Ol’ Boys, in between stints with Red Allen. He performed with David Grisman and Jerry Garcia and, in 1975, formed the Frank Wakefield Band, which has continued on into the 2010s.

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