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Frank Kovac (born May 3rd 1972) is an American guitarist, teacher, public education advocate and a singer songwriter. Playing a variety of genres, he also plays in the traditional “trad” celtic style of guitar and mandolin. He has been making music and promoting independent music professionally for over 30 years. Similarly, Kovacs’ passion for teaching and strong belief in public education has led him to become an outspoken advocate for teacher rights and school reform.
Frank Kovac was a member of Steel Wood in 1987, then most notably New Brown Hat (1993-1998), Kovac has been a collaborator in songwriting, performance, and in business. Prior to 1998 Kovac toured relentlessly with New Brown Hat. They sold over 10,000 copies of their live compilation Live to Dat and amazingly over 12,000 units of their independently released Dandelion Wine CD. Additionally the group nurtured one of the most personalized database systems with over 10,000 names on their mailing list, and independent distribution that kept Dandelion Wine stocked in over 125 retail stores from Maine to the Carolinas, including Sam Goody, Tower, and Strawberries. New Brown Hat was one of the most sought after unsigned concert headliners on the East Coast.
Based primarily out of New York City, Kovac and New Brown Hat, were a part of a music scene characterized as Jamband. Focused songwriting styles and a female front vocalist placed them on the edge of this landscape, thus crossing over between the singer-songwriter realm, pop-music, and the improvisational live scene in which they performed. Such clubs as Wetlands Preserve, The New Music Café, and the Bitter End, were mainstays for the band.
Eventually, they sold out such well-known venues as New York’s Mercury Lounge and nearly sold out IrvingPlaza. In 1997 when they scored several coveted slots on that summer's H.O.R.D.E. tour. Since 1995, the band has appeared with the likes of Government Mule, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Neil Young, Beck, Blues Traveler, Ben Folds Five, Leftover Salmon, Arrested Development, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and Kula Shaker.
In the fall of 1997, their lead vocalist departed New Brown Hat suspending a critical buzz around the band. Searching for a female singer with substantial talent took over 6 months, yet led to the extraordinary talent of Julie Sparks. Sparks joined the band, bringing some of her own songs yet joining in with the collaborative process that produced such previous success. This group produced one album Man Bites Dog, which was only available online. It received national attention for an independent record produced within a short-time frame, 2 months. New Songs such as By The Way and Heart of Stone displayed the bands matured and honed songs-writing talent, as well as derivative works on standards such as Redemption, Simple, and Jealousy, illustrated the aptitude of the musicians and the collective group. This placed them in a unique category amongst the emerging digital market and changing music industry of the mid to late 1990’s. Combined with the transition between vocalists, the group could not regain enough forward momentum and disbanded in 1998.
Since 1999 Kovac continued working as a guitarist and a singer-songwriter till he began collaborating with his brother, Jim, in the summer of 2005. They teamed up to create what became Kovac Brothers. The group blends elements of rock, soul, jazz and a southern almost alt country edge to get their unique sound.
“The response has been overwhelming”, stated drummer Jim Kovac. “People always asked, ‘when are you guys going to play together’, we just didn’t realize how many people wanted to hear it.” Before Kovac Brothers, the last time Frank and Jim performed on a major stage together was at the 1997 HORDE Tour in Philadelphia with Colonel Bruce Hampton (Aquarium Rescue Unit) and members of Leftover Salmon. At the time, Frank Kovac was touring relentlessly with New Brown Hat and Jim Kovac was a free-lance drummer, a hired gun, most notably with industrial band Simulcast, hip-hop group the Nervous System and pop singer Amie Miriello (now Dirtie Blonde). Jim Kovac adds, “We’re not just looking to create interesting music but also to promote independent music as a more sincere representation of people’s ideas.”
Currently, Frank Kovac does session work and plays with Kovac Brothers, The Sunday Morning Boys, and various other groups.
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