Guitar legend living the dream south of Indy

Posted by: Kenneth Kosky on February 27, 2019

People have come from as far away as Germany and New Zealand to visit Frank’s Guitars in Franklin to hear stories about, and see memorabilia from, some of the most famous musicians of the past several decades.

Store owner Frank Dean has met, been the opening act for or jammed with the likes of Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, Stephen Stills, Merle Haggard, 38 Special, Hank Williams Jr. and countless others.

His band, Sindacato, was a popular opening act for the famous bands because they created their own original music and because they had a reputation for making themselves available when opportunity knocked.

These days, Dean keep busy with his store, located at 55 E. Jefferson St. in downtown Franklin. He sells guitars, basses, mandolins, dobros, amps and accessories. The store also offers repairs and lessons.

“I’ve got the best worst-paying job in the world. You get to come in every morning and friends stop by, you drink coffee and talk about music,” he said.

He also finds time for 100 to 120 performances each year, including from 6 to 9 p.m. the third Saturday of each month at Richard’s Brick Oven Pizza, 229 S. Main St., Franklin. And to give other musicians a stage, he organizes live music nights from 6 to 9 p.m. every Tuesday, also at Richard’s. Everyone from musicians who have taken lessons at Frank’s Guitars to veteran musicians who had to give up being in a band to raise a family but who still long to perform take the stage for four songs each.

Dean has been playing guitars since he was a small child.

“I remember as a little kid being mesmerized by them. I’ve never gotten over it,” he said.

Dean grew up in Indianapolis in the 1960s and came to Franklin to play his music at The Willard Restaurant. He came to appreciate downtown Franklin and opened his guitar shop there 15 years ago. Since then, the number of establishments with live music has grown from one to at least seven.

Sitting in his guitar shop, Dean looks around at Hank Williams Sr.’s jacket and pocket knife in a display case. He sees countless pictures of himself as a young musician hanging with famous musicians.

“The truly great ones are humble,” he said.

Speaking of which, it’s not until well into the conversation that one learns that two of Dean’s albums won album of the year awards and one was nominated for an international award. Although he missed out on the huge record deal and the fame, it doesn’t bother him one bit. The memories on the wall, and still being able to make a living with music, mean more to him than fame and fortune.

“I think I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” he said.

Visit the Frank’s Guitars website or Facebook page to learn more.

Hanks Williams Sr.'s jacket and pocket knife are just part of the vast music memorabilia collected by Frank Dean.