Donovan Frankenreiter first got on a surfboard when he was 10, became addicted within five minutes, and turned pro when he was 16. But his isn’t the story of the typical surf bro with a guitar turned professional songwriter.
Music came late to Frankenreiter. It wasn’t until after he and his wife started having kids — a time when many musicians are searching for reliable work — that Frankenreiter signed his first record deal. The similarities between working as a surfer and working clubs across the country were immediately apparent.
“Both are forever changing,” he said in a recent phone interview while on tour supporting his latest LP. “You never catch the same wave twice, just as every night there’s a different gig, a different stage, a different sound.”
While traveling the world as a professional surfer, Frankenreiter met fellow wave rider and musician Jack Johnson through Johnson’s parents, who rented him a room in Oahu, Hawaii. The two became fast friends, and in 2002, he signed a deal with Johnson’s Brushfire Records and released a self-titled solo album featuring Johnson and G. Love and the kind of acoustic beach fare you’d expect from a surfer turned songwriter.
Frankenreiter’s latest offering, though, his ninth studio record, The Heart, was inspired by love and chance, both of which he had in spades while in the studio.
“As we were recording, everything kept coming back to this idea of the heart,” he said — from drawings on chalkboards to songs written in the keys associated with the heart chakra. The result is a warm and welcoming album infused with tones and images picked up from his travels across highway and beach.
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Thankfully, becoming a professional musician didn’t mean giving up surfing for Frankenreiter. Touring in Florida gives him the chance to exercise both of his passions.
“For me, touring and playing in Florida is a perfect scenario,” he said. “We’re always close to a beach where we can find some waves. That’s an ideal day: beach, surfing, and playing a show.”
Great work if you can get it.
8 p.m. Saturday, August 29, at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $20 plus fees. Call 954-564-1074, or visit cultureroom.net.