21.2 C
Byron Shire
February 28, 2021

Tom Gets Frank

Latest News

Mt Warning ban

Chris Gee, Byron Bay Indigenous readers be advised that the following letter contains references to persons deceased. I read with some...

Other News

PM’s vaccine

Martin Bail, Federal On 4 February, 2021 ABC News reported, albeit briefly, that the PM will ‘for the record’ be...

Northern Rivers policeman accused of youth assault acquitted

Magistrate Michael Dakin has ordered a common assault charge against a former Byron-based policeman be dropped after an altercation involving a naked youth in Byron Bay three years ago.

‘Hollywood’ drug squads over the top

I guess we have to thank Hollywood for the enduring myth that a black-clad squad of elite 'blokes', preferably with cool helicopters, from the capital are needed to crack down on really serious crime in hick parts of the country like Mullumbimby.

Coal scuttle

Alan Veacock, Cumbalum After some serious arm-twisting from the rest of the sane world, led by Joe Biden, the ‘marketing...

Letting the love light SHINE in Lismore

A discovery focused light festival in August hopes to attract locals and visitors to Lismore.

Loveday wins All Shorts second year in a row

Filmmakers travelled from where COVID allowed this weekend to be part of the 30th birthday celebrations for Flickerfest in...

We first met Tom Burlinson on the big screen back in 1981 as The Man From Snowy River. Now over 30 years on this talented actor has shown the world that he’s got a few tricks up his sleeve and has been performing Frank A Life In Song. Burlinson clearly has a knack for playing iconic figures, although he’s very clear that Frank is a show where

‘I present the songs of Frank – I am not impersonating Frank!’

Burlinson reveals that ‘I sing songs in the Sinatra style. The arrangements are based on the original and I follow the particular phrasing and how he holds notes, but it is still me singing, otherwise it would just be imitation. There is a fine line between impersonation and giving an impression. If I don’t have a connection with the lyric of the song and the music then it won’t mean anything for me.’

The show traces Frank Sinatra’s impressive and very long career. Most people are familiar with the swing era and the big band music, but Sinatra did start out as a romantic crooner.

‘We travel back chronologically to the early days, from the late 1930s with the romantic material, lots of ballads. To perform that I have to sing in his early style which is very fluid, very romantic. As for the band, it’s largely string arrangements.

‘Then in the 50s he went between both styles, but the most well known is the swinging Sinatra of Lady is a Tramp and Come Fly with Me; and later in the 60s there was more of a demonstrative style, as his voice deteriorated with age the style was punchy and he developed a great feeling for jazz. So we get a taste of all of these different times. I follow it roughly chronologically.’

There’s a lot of Sinatra to cover, the song and the story. So how does Burlinson weave his way through this immense amount of material?

TomBurlinson_FrankSinatra2-(1)I say to the band that we have to imagine what it was like and why those girls in the 1940s, when their boyfriends were away at the war, loved Frank and how he became such a romantic idol. We try to focus on the music, not on the other stories surrounding Frank. You can’t do it all. I do talk about his relationship with the press and how it deteriorated, his alleged association with the mafia. Often what he chose to sing was a reflection of what happened to him. Like in the 1960s when he married Mia Farrow – he would have been in his late 50s and she would have been 21. He was singing You Make Me Feel So Young. And then when they split he sang Summer Wind.

‘The quintessential Sinatra for me,’ says Burlinson, ‘is the swing period. Songs like I Got You Under My Skinand Lady is a Tramp. Those are the ones that you can’t not do. And of course as you get towards the end of the show you have to sing New York New York and My Way.

In presenting the music Burlinson believes ‘you can’t dwell too much on the 1930s and 40s otherwise the audiences go to sleep. Of course I touch on that, but you need to bring the tempo up again to have that affect and to keep the contrast.’ To move through the massive back catalogue of material Burlinson presents medleys.

So what is it about Sinatra that still strikes such a chord with audiences of all ages?

‘His voice certainly wasn’t perfect. He had this extraordinary charisma. I did witness it several times, and that is the indefinable thing about being a performer – you either have it or you don’t. And he had it. I think also the good-guy-bad-guy is quite interesting. We know he could wear his heart on his sleeve and he could be a tough hood, and that whole mystique is part of the attraction as he changed over the years. When older people come to the show they say it’s like going through a catalogue of memories; this was the musical background of their lives, and I think Sinatra was the greatest interpreter of the great American songbook.’

So how did an actor from the big screen end up toe-tapping along to old Blue Eyes?

‘Years ago a friend of mine said, “Why don’t you try to write something for yourself?” And he was thinking of me as an actor, I guess, but it ended up with my writing a song about music and about Sinatra’s affect on my life. The song was called The Man in the Hat and it started the whole process of the development in my career; singing it on The Midday Show and sending it to Tina Sinatra in Los Angeles and then being cast as the young Sinatra in the miniseries, and then being known in Australia that the man from Snowy River could also sing like Sinatra, and it all came from my writing something. Just one song. I can put it all back to that and going back to Ray Martin with the audio cassette at the Logie awards and saying “listen to this”. I tell this story as part of the show, how it all came from one pretty simple place.’

So what is Tom Burlinson’s advice for young actors, musicians, or performers. ‘Give 100 per cent.’

And that’s what you can expect when he is joined by his eight-piece band at the Lismore City Hall to present Frank, A Life in Song.

Thursday 25 July, 8pm. Tickets are $44/54 –

6622 0300 or online at www.norpa.org.au.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

‘The Great Reset’

Gary Opit, Wooyung I appreciated the letter by Lucas Wright (17 February) on the Great Reset conspiracy fantasy. With our privileged, western, simplistic understanding of...

Letting go

Mary McMorrow, Mullumbimby I respect the parents forgiving the drunk driver who killed their four children (one a cousin) as their way of dealing with...

Ministers misbehave

Keith Duncan, Pimlico Accusations of appalling behaviour by the Liberal Party in covering up misdeeds within its ranks just keep on keeping on. The last...

Transparency needed

Janelle Saffin MP, State Member for Lismore. I read with interest Mia Armitage’s front page article in last week’s Echo ‘Electorates miss out on bushfire...