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36613


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A Moment in Time with Frank Mendenhall - Beverly Mc Dowell

Frank Mendenhall was one of the smoothest guitarists to come this way.  Frank was also very laid back with his approach.  Mendenhall wrote music that touched the heart of soul.

I remember on one occasion in Mobile, AL, (that) we were at a blues show.  Frank charismatically walked downstage, his dreads dropped across one shoulder, plainly dressed with guitar in one hand.  In a soft voice, Mendenhall said to the audience, "All right, y'all, Frank Mendenhall is her and it's time to party."  The audience rose to their feet and they danced and partied for about 25 minutes straight.

Frank Mendenhall was extremely skillful.  I remember interviewing him on my radio show "Showtime at the Juke Joint" when I asked, "Frank, what does Shont Dont Dont mean?"  He responded, "Hell, I don't know...I was just singing one day in the studio.   Got lost for words and I started saying 'shont dont dont'...the band started that improv thing and before I realized it, we had a hit."

Mendenhall had a sweet spirit  about him, too.  He would tell me to stay encouraged, to eat good food and to put good shoes on my feet.  Mendenhall would say, "You're a great entertainer and a damn good dancer, so take care of your feet."  Then he would ask me if he could massage my feet before I hit the stage.  Of course, I allowed him to rub my feet.  And you know, he never got fresh.  He would just say, "I've put more magic in your feet."

(What) I vividly remember about Frank is his close relationship with his brother, Robert.  The two men were inseparable.  Whenever you saw Frank in performances, you would see Robert by his side.  Robert knew every word of every song, too.  On stage, the Mendenhall brothers would have a bright, almost brilliant glow about themselves.

Frank Mendenhall should be hailed as a legend.  His music used to take me to and from my overnight radio station gig...six nights a week.  On those mornings when I thought I couldn't make it, I would put in the Hard Times CD in my player.  The music gave me that extra push.

 

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