Frank Brown cradling his newest work, The Unicorn
Frank Brown is an integral part of Seattle music history, though one not many are familiar with. Of course we all know the Grunge Movement of the 90′s, but farther back Brown and his group Septimus helped establish the funky 70′s Seattle sound that also counts Ray Charles and Quincy Jones as architects and influenced Jimi Hendrix.
A life-long Central District district resident, Brown started his musical career at a young age. In 1956 five-year old Brown and his siblings, then called the Gospel 5, would be taken around on errands with his mother to sing for friends, shopkeepers and anyone else who’d listen. It was the encouragement he received from these grassroots audiences that steered him to take music seriously. At the birth of the seventies, he and his brothers Ronald, Coleman, and Herman began a group called “Just Us”. In 1979, the group took on the name of the deceased grandfather who relocated the Brown family from Arkansas to Seattle, “Septimus”.
In 1974, the Seattle band Annakonda recorded a funky instrumental track called “Wheedle’s Groove.” The song got significant airplay and became emblematic of Seattle’s black sound at the time. In 2004, the song was part of a compilation CD entitled “Wheedle’s Groove: Seattle’s Finest in Funk and Soul – 1965-75″ on Seattle-based Light in the Attic Records. Similar Seattle funk and soul history was covered by Jennifer Maas’ 2009 documentary of the same name. The film describes, among other things, the formation of a super group culled from 70′s Seattle music stars dubbing itself Wheedles Groove, sometimes headed by Brown himself.
These days, the musician is also feeling the beat of another passion: sculpture. While he still continues to play around Seattle regularly (most notably on Thursday evenings in Queen Anne’s Paragon Restaurant & Bar), he’s exploring a 25-year old passion for working with driftwood. Using minimalist techniques, Brown strives to show us the beauty inherent in nature. His sculpture garden, Neptune Gallery, is open most weekdays and will be a featured venue in the Central District art walk on September 10th, 2011.
Frank Brown on lead vocals for Wheedle’s Groove
Frank’s goal this art walk is to give back to the family that has supported him for so long. Recently his favorite cousin Linda had a stroke and a portion of all sales will go toward her medical and after-care expenses. He describes her lovingly as almost a sister and Septimus’ biggest fan. She is currently receiving care at Harbor View Hospital where she is in serious condition
Frank Brown can be contacted here regarding his pieces.
Photos courtesy of Christopher Bryce Morris and Joe Mabel, respectively