Pro surfer-turned-musician Donavon Frankenreiter headlines Rock the Boat free concert Saturday in Steamboat
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Give Donavon Frankenreiter a guitar and a beach, sit back and watch what unfolds.
Taking music back to its roots and the surfer lifestyle, the pro surfer-turned-musician integrates the ebb and flow of life into his smooth, funky, good-vibe tracks. Listeners can’t help but sway and smile as the California native sings “It Don’t Matter,” “What’cha Know About” or the Jack Johnson cover “Free” with a sound similar to Johnson himself.
This weekend Frankenreiter, who has shared the stage with Jack Johnson and G Love and Special Sauce, will headline Steamboat Resort’s Rock the Boat free concert series show at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Gondola Square.
“I took my guitar everywhere with me,” Frankenreiter said about his 16-year-old self. “It became my best friend as I was playing as much as possible with as many people as I could.”
Living the bonafide surfing lifestyle was something that left lasting impressions on his music even as he tours from venues nationally and internationally from Japan to Brazil.
“Surfing has made me everything I am today,” he said. “It’s taught me a lot about the world.”
Frankenreiter signed to Johnson’s label at Brushfire Records and released his first album, “The Heart,” in 2004.
“We went in saying, ‘Let’s make the best record we can that we enjoy,'” Frankenreiter said. “And not that I didn’t feel that way about my other albums, but this was the one that felt the most natural. Even the way we made it, too — a song a day. I went into it feeling a little pressure — this whole live-streaming thing — if we hit a rut the first day, we’re screwed. But the first day we cut ‘Big Wave,’ and it was off to the races.”
Singer-songwriter John Craigie, a Portland native who’s released five full-length albums, will open for Frankenreiter. Craigie has also shared the stage with Johnson during the headliner’s 2017 tour.
Like Frankenreiter, Craigie’s music connects listeners to his stories and a sense of place.
“I’ve noticed that if you give an introduction, people will listen to the lyrics more intently,” he said. “The honesty and vulnerability is also unique. It’s not something everyone allows themselves to have. Being up there alone allows the listener to connect more, and all the walls of rock ‘n’ roll pageantry are knocked down.”
Craigie will release his live album, “Opening For Steinbeck,” on March 16.
In a rapidly-changing industry, Frankenreiter said it’s not about staying current or creating music based on what people want to hear.
“You have to play from your heart and be honest,” he said. “It’s a process writing songs. It does not comes easy, but when it does, it feels great. You just have to do what you can when you can. Everything is always changing, and most times change is good.”
After years away from Steamboat, Frankenreiter said he’s looking forward to being back on Saturday playing a variety of old and new tunes.
“I hope people walk away with a big smile and love in their heart,” he said.
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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Explore a mix of in-person and virtual events happening this weekend in Routt County.