This weekend will usher in a new installment of the quarterly series, "Nashville Cats: A Celebration of Music City Musicians," and this time around, pedal-steel guitarist Paul Franklin is in the spotlight.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will once again sponsor the program, which will get under way at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 23. The event will feature an in-depth interview with the Nashville-based Franklin in the museum's 300-seat Ford Theater. Admission to the event is included with museum admission and free to museum members. The program also will be streamed live at countrymusichalloffame.org.
Bill Lloyd will serve as host for the salute that will include a brief performance from Franklin, as well as a one-on-one interview that will be illustrated with vintage recordings, photos and film clips from the museum’s Frist Library and Archive. Immediately following the program, Franklin will sign limited-edition, commemorative Hatch Show Print posters. (Please visit the museum’s website for complete admission and signing details.)
More about Paul Franklin
Since moving to Nashville more than four decades a 40 ago, Franklin has become one of the most sought-after pedal-steel guitarists. In addition to touring with major country artists, he has played on hundreds of recording sessions. His credits include Vince Gill’s “When I Call Your Name,” Alan Jackson’s “Don’t Rock the Jukebox,” George Strait’s “All My Exes Live in Texas,” Taylor Swift’s “Begin Again” and Trisha Yearwood’s “She’s in Love with the Boy.”
Born in Detroit on May 31, 1954, Franklin was a pedal-steel child prodigy. By 11, he had begun playing clubs and recording sessions around Detroit. He moved to Nashville in 1972 to work with Barbara Mandrell, a skilled steel guitarist in her own right, and Dottie West.
Tired of the road, Franklin moved back to Detroit for six months. When he returned to Nashville, he toured with Lynn Anderson and Donna Fargo and played recording sessions. Over the next two decades, Franklin toured with Jerry Reed, Mel Tillis and Dire Straits.
Beyond touring, Franklin was, and remains, a first-call session musician. He has recorded with artists such as Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, metal band Megadeth, Sting, Barbara Streisand, Randy Travis, Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood and Trisha Yearwood, among many others.
Not only is Franklin a virtuoso pedal-steel player; he is also one of the instrument’s top innovators. Convinced that the instrument should not be limited to hard-country songs, Franklin often infuses his playing with jazz, funk and rock ‘n’ roll sounds. He helped popularize a unique style of playing called pick blocking, where the musician mutes the strings with a pick rather than the hand, allowing for faster playing.
Franklin, with his father, Paul Franklin Sr., also developed new variations on the steel guitar, including the Pedabro, the acoustic lap steel (or “The Box”) and the Baritone Steel guitar.
In 2002, Franklin joined fellow A-list Nashville musicians Eddie Bayers, John Hobbs, Brent Mason and Michael Rhodes to form the Players. The group released a live DVD and toured Japan. In 2008, Franklin joined the Nashville-based western-swing band the Time Jumpers. In 2013, the group earned two Grammy nominations. Last month, Franklin and his fellow Time Jumper, Vince Gill, announced they had recorded a duet album.
Franklin has earned multiple Academy of Country Music Steel Guitar Player of the Year awards, and 20 nominations for the Country Music Association Musician of the Year award. He is a member of the Medallion All-Star band; the band that provides accompaniment for the induction ceremony of new members to the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the International Pedal Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 2000.
Today, in addition to regular recording sessions, he continues to play weekly gigs with the Time Jumpers.
For more information about Franklin's March 23 program at the downtown museum, please access the aforementioned hall of fame website or call 615-416-2001.
Video bonus: To sample pedal-steel player Paul Franklin and guitarist Brent Mason in action, access the video embedded with this post.