2016 Randall Franks Trophy Winner


Maddie Denton (second from right) of Murfreesboro, Tenn. won the Randall Franks Trophy at the 1890s Day Old Time Fiddle Convention May 28, 2016. In the fiddle off, she faced Mark Ralph (third from left) of Somerville, Ala. winner of the 51 and up category, who won second, Andrew Lin (second from left) of Lexington, Ky from 16-21 category, who placed third, and Benjamin Lin  (left) of Lexington, Ky, winner of the 11-15 category,  who placed fourth. Contestants receive their awards from Randall Franks (third from left), organizer Lewis Taylor (right).

Randall Franks strives to “Keep ‘Em Smilin’” with his new Christian music and comedy CD


FranksRandall KeepEmSmilin5a

Randall Franks signs his latest CD “Keep ‘Em Smilin’” for the youngest member of his fan club Wally O’Donald, 9, of Ringgold, Ga. Wally, also an aspiring musician, joined the fan club at age 6.

International Bluegrass Music Museum Legend and country humorist Randall Franks, “Officer Randy Goode” from TV’s “In the Heat of the Night,” returns to his Southern gospel music roots with his new CD “Keep ‘Em Smilin’.”

Franks became the first solo bluegrass artist to reach the top rankings of the Christian music sales charts with his “Handshakes and Smiles” in 1990 forging new ground and opening new sales outlets for tradition artists to share their music. He created a partnership at Benson with the late producer Norman Holland, garnering turntable hits including the Telly Award nominee “Handshakes and Smiles,” “He’s Never Gonna Fool Me Again,” “You Better Get Ready,” “Pass Me Not” and “Rock of Ages.”

With his latest release from Crimson Records, the Appalachian Ambassador of the Fiddle combines his fiddle stylings, dulcimer playing, vocals and comedy with a Southern gospel style piano. He called on the skills of former Stamps Quartet pianist Curtis Broadway. Broadway also performed with Gold City, the Pelfreys and many others.

“When I started my career I wanted to learn to play the piano like Hovie Lister and Eva Mae LeFevre, but I was never ever to reach that goal. Instead God brought me to the violin, dulcimer, and guitar to share His gifts,” Franks said. “I am honored to have such an amazing talent who has added to such great musical legacies in gospel music to support me in this musical adventure. He certainly plays like I wish I could!”

Franks said this project came together accidentally.

“I was doing a show at the Walker County Civic Center in Rock Spring, Ga. with my good friends – the Testimony Quartet, and I asked Curtis to join me on my solo show that night as we performed to a packed house,” he said. “What I didn’t know is that Tim Owens of Journey On Ministries recorded the entire performance that night and he later came to me and saying ‘It was so good; I should consider releasing it.’

“After listening, I agreed, he had captured the spontaneity of me encouraging the audience to join me in the cheerful fun of worship through these classic musical selections, and simply laugh at some country comedy,” he said.

Appalachian scholar Loyal Jones included Franks amongst the region’s greatest country music humorists alongside Jeff Foxworthy and Minnie Pearl in his educational work “Country Music Humorists and Comedians.”

“I have always shared comedy all the way back to my days on ‘The Country Kids TV Series’ but unlike my old friend the late Jerry Clower, I have mainly shared my funny stories in print through my syndicated newspaper column – Southern Style,” he said. “This gives folks a taste of the stories between some of my musical offerings, just enough to hopefully bring a smile to their faces and leave a song in their hearts.”

Selections on “Keep ‘Em Smilin’” include some of his most requested songs: “This Little Light of Mine,” “What a Friend We Have in Keep'EmSmilin'Cover3Jesus,” “Amazing Grace,” “Old Time Religion,” and “In the Garden.” Among the comedy stories are “Chicken Addiction,” “A Tunnel Runs Through It/Re-Enactment,” “Indigenous/Sgt. York,” and “Cousin Viola and the Sanctified Grape Juice.”

Franks serves as an advisor to the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame board. He has performed in studio or on stage with gospel artists including the Marksmen Quartet, Jeff & Sheri Easter, the Watkins Family, the Lewis Family, Tim Lovelace, the Primitive Quartet, the Isaacs, the Easter Brothers, Little Roy and Lizzy, Jason Crabb, Tammy Sullivan, Doyle Lawson, Dottie Rambo, Archie Watkins, Dr. Jerry Goff and Little Jan Buckner-Goff, the Perrys, the Anchormen, and others.

Later Southern gospel radio successes came in his partnership with producer Chris White of Sonlite yielding airplay around the world from recordings such as Franks’ “Sacred Sounds of Appalachia” and “Christmas Time’s A Comin’.” Gospel radio programmers also found his comedy and gospel on his Crimson bluegrass releases “Tunes and Tales from Tunnel Hill” and “God’s Children” with David Davis.

The Independent Country Music Hall of Fame member was honored in 2013 by Governor Nathan Deal for his extensive philanthropic and humanitarian works providing millions of dollars benefiting his fellow Georgians.

Franks’ latest film is the Christian thriller “Broken” in which he stars with Soren Fulton and Joe Stevens. His acting with Carroll O’Connor and Howard Rollins on TV’s “In the Heat of the Night” airs weekly to millions of viewers on cable and broadcast networks such as WGN-TV and This.

Franks continues to make concert appearances around the United States and Canada.

To learn more about Randall Franks, visit randallfranks.com; Like him on Facebook Randall Franks Actor/Director; follow on twitter @RandallFranks; or subscribe to RandallFranksTV on YouTube.

Visit shareamericafoundation.org to learn more about the Appalachian musical scholarship charity to which Franks gives his time.

The needle is stuck again

I have seen numerous members of my family and friends go through the ups and downs of chronic illnesses, and watched as they struggled with tasks which once they had performed with ease.
When I was just a child, volunteering in a local nursing home, I met a woman who was around eighty at the time. Her name was Georgia
McMahan. Georgia endured many of the ailments of her fellow residents but you would never know it.
From the moment you saw her, the smile that beamed from her face uplifted you and gave you a spirit of glee that could carry you
through any task. Added to the smile were words of encouragement, concern, and hope that poured from her very being.
While many of the folks that my efforts brought me in contact with were mired in what seem to be a ditch of despair, Georgia shined as
if standing on a mountain top in a field of wild flowers.
Sometimes as I hear different people share similar issues again and again, I see in my mind the spinning turntable of my youth with a 33
1/3 rpm record going round and round. I remember when a particular tune had been played too much or accidently scratched, sometimes the needle would find itself stuck repeating the same musical phrase over
and over again.
It took me getting up, going to the record player, and bumping the needle’s arm ever so gently to help it get out of the record’s deep
dark vinyl groove and move it musically on down the road.
Like that needle, it is so easy to get stuck in the scratches and wore out spaces of our lives and find it hard to move on. We spin
around endlessly in the same spot, repeating the same actions, saying the same things only to find ourselves doing it over again.
Sometimes it takes someone to give us a gentle shove to realize that just a millimeter down our path we may find something better, and
even if we don’t, we are better for the trying.
As I think back on Georgia now, I sort of see her as that person in that place who God sent to gently nudge all those around her and give
them a chance to stop being stuck in a groove that was wearing on them and everyone that could hear their song.
Are you serving as a catalyst to help yourself and others over the hump and find a smoother path?  If not, why not?
I can surely say the path that Georgia showed me as a child sure gives life a better spin than any others I have seen. I hope I can
always take the spin that lets me seem as if I am on the mountain in a field of wildflowers.

Loving beyond worldly measure

Some of the most difficult times to watch are when someone we know is trying to be there for a loved one when he or she is coming to the end of his or her journey. As I think back through the years, I remember watching my mother and father as they reached out to support friends or relatives in such times.
If the loved one was elsewhere, they would close up the business, and off they’d go for an undetermined amount of time to just be present.
There to be called upon if needed for and extra pair of hands and legs to: run errands, do day-to-day tasks, cook, just simply sit,
talk, laugh, console, remember, and pray.
I saw my mother and father do this time and time again. I know they drew no financial benefit from what they were doing. Their only
requite was in knowing they were serving Christ with their actions.
Sometimes their presence reached beyond the caregivers to the patient and I know that brought a peace over each of them when they knew they comforted someone as they prepared to cross over.
As a small boy, I watched this routine many times as they said goodbye to former co-workers and neighbors, friends from throughout
their lives, and of course, relatives of every description who impacted their lives.
I vaguely remember one period in my childhood when I felt I was spending more time in hospitals and funeral homes than at school but
death comes at God’s appointment not on our timetables.
I am now at a similar point in time of my life as they were when they were saying goodbye to so many. So, I have become readily cognizant that like my folks, many of those I know are being called, some old, some young, but its seems more with every passing year.
As I reflect on what can I do to support their loved ones, I think back on the model that my parents gave me. I try to simply be present
whenever possible to offer support and help them walk down the path I have already walked. I know that hope, comfort and strength should be offered along the path and I only pray that I can be an instrument to provide some aspect of these to all concerned along the final journey.
Most of us know someone who is facing this point in life, what are you doing to support he or she, and his or her circle of caregivers?
I encourage you to find some way to make a difference; you may be able to leave a message of love that changes a life forever and
passes a legacy of love to your children as they see how you help others in a time in life we all must face.