The Frank Love Orchestra

About the Band

The Frank Love Orchestra members are from towns throughout the Carolinas. The orchestra has performed at many country clubs, The Charlotte City Club, dance clubs, The Carolina Yacht Club of Charleston, and wedding receptions in the Tri-state area as well as for special events such as the 50th anniversary of the USS North Carolina Battleship in Wilmington, the Grand Opening of the Poinsett Hotel in Greenville, Freedom fest in Shelby, Brevard College’s Annual Fundraiser and the Second String Santas in Charlotte.  We can give you:  Dinner Music, Dance Music, Beach Music, Sousa Marches, German Band Music, Dixieland, as well as light Rock.

From the Charlotte Observer

Article written by Joe DePriest

Nearing 80, trumpeter Frank Love, Jr., belts out fewer solos in the swing band he put together out ten years ago.

Maybe his wind and stamina aren’t the same, but the power of the music crackles when he puts the instrument to his lips.

“I still get the tingle,” said Love, a retired textile mill president who tours the Carolinas with 19 part-time musicians. “I’m still having a ball.”

From gilded ballrooms and country clubs, to outdoor parks and civic auditoriums, the Frank Love Orchestra revives swing sounds from the ’30s and ’40s.

Audiences are mostly older fans who remember the tunes from their teen years–often dancing in the aisles with Love’s encouragement. But increasing numbers of young people are tunng in after getting hooked on neo-swing groups like the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies.

“That really pleases me,” Love says. “Young people aren’t coming out to the degree I’d like, but they’re showing up, and that’s good.”

For him, the swing classics are timeless–old favorites by Glenn Miller, Harry James, and Benny Goodman. But he’ll give anything a serious listen, like a Cherry Poppin’ Daddies CD his daughter-in-law gave him.

“It was something called ‘Zoot Suit Riot,’ and I didn’t necessarily appreciate the words,” Love said. “But the instrumentals were excellent.”

He discovered swing in its heyday.

As a kid in Shelby, Love learned the trumpet from Johnny Best, a Shelby legend who played with such as Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, and Bob Crosby. Love put together his first band as a student in Shelby High School, was leader of The Citadel Orchestra, played in the Army Air Forces swing bands in England during World War II, and jammed with combos at Charlotte bars afer the war.

As he rose through the ranks to become president of American & Efird in Mount Holly, he drifted away from the trumpet, but took it up again after retirement.

For the fun of it, around 1990, he formed his own big band, recruiting Charlotte area musicians from every walk of life, from high school band directors to engineers. The group has two singers: Anne Goss and Helen Turpish of Shelby.

Love invested in a sheet music library of more than 1,000 tunes. And he also furnishes band stands, speakers, lights, and electrical equipment.

The band rehearses about once a month at Cleveland Community College and does an average of two or three shows a month. “It really has been a lot of fun,” said Bill Sneed, 69, retired band director at Cherryville High and Belmont Junior High schools. “We don’t make a lot of money. But it’s well worth it.”

Love is part of the reason he sticks with it. “He’s easy to work with, but he wants things right,” Sneed said. “He’s pretty much a professional, and he expects you to do your best.”

Tenor sax player Guy Rudisill, 40, of Lincolnton is impressed by Love’s dedication.

“The man puts a lot of time into this,” Rudisill says. “He knows how to run a tight ship. He’s a good fellow and a great player.”

Boyce Roberts, who chairs the Big Band Dance Club at Charlotte’s Oasis Shrine Temple, thinks the band is a class act and booked it four times this year.

It’s a tremendous band with talented musicians,” he said. “All our people love it.”

Years ago, Love’s mentor and hero–Johnny Best–taught him to practice the trumpet every day, and Love sticks to that advice. He carries a trumpet even when he travels with his wife, Virginia.

Love, who grew up in Lincolnton, Saxapahaw, NC, and Shelby, traces his musical interest to his mother, who tried to teach him piano.

His family roots go back to the beginnings of the area’s textile history. Love’s great-grandfather, R.C.G. Love, founded the Gastonia Cotton Manufacturing Co. in 1887–Gastonia’s first textile mill and the first in Gaston County to be powered by steam.

While living in Lincolnton, Love’s eighth-grade band director, S. Ray Louder, suggested the youngster play the trumpet. “I did and I absolutely fell in love with it,” Love said.

In the summer of 1938, Love lived in Shelby and began taking trumpet lessons from Best, who had returned home after touring with The Artie Shaw Orchestra. Later, Best would go back on the road with Shaw when his recording of “Begin the Beguine” became a national hit. Best would also join Glenn Miller’s first band and played trumpet solos on such recordings as “Stardust.”

Love keeps in touch with Best, now in his late 80s and living in California. They share many musical memories.

During World War II, when Love was in England commanding a group that repaired B-17 bombers, he began jamming with other musicians on the bases. The sessions attracted musicians with Glenn Miller’s Army Air Forces Band, stationed nearby.

At the time, Miller was a king of pop. With songs like “Tuxedo Junction” and “String of Pearls,” he was idolized by millions of young listeners.

When love mentioned his knew Johnny Best, Miller’s employees introduced him to the legendary bandleader.

Miller was polite to me, but he was a pretty stern taskmaster with his band,” Love said. “He demanded they perform properly, and they did.”

It wasn’t long after the meeting that a pilot in Love’s squadron flew the plane with Miller aboard that disappeared in the English Channel in December 1944.

After the war, Love got so deeply involved in his textile career, that music got pushed aside.

In 1984 he retired, moved back to Shelby, and began playing in places like Liz’s nightclub in Charlotte. One night an old friend dropped by the club–Charlotte Observer columnist Kays Gary, who wrote a piece about Love’s rediscovery of the trumpet.

That got me started,” Love said. Eventually he put out the word he was organizing an authentic big band. And he’s been busy ever since.

For something that’s more or less a hobby, it’s a lot of work–keeping up with arrangements, bookings, and musicians, and making sure the sound is always right. A heart problem zapped him a little over a year ago, but Love bounced back.

“I hope it will last forever,” Love said. “I know I won’t be playing a lot longer, but I just hope somebody will carry on. I think they will. This music is so basically good, I think people will be playing it when they’ve forgotten about a lot of stuff that comes along.”

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