Frank Casey Salamone passed away April 29, 2012 from complications of Multiple Sclerosis,
only a few days after the release of his third CD entitled "Suitcase - Live in '76 at Battle Ground".
Frank was a fingerstyle and vocal legend among those who heard him perform live
in the '70s and '80s in and around West Michigan.
In the best sense of the word, he was a student of the fingerstyle guitar
and blues tradition, drawing on influences ranging from Mose Allison,
Charlie Patton, Ry Cooder, Bert Jansch, Merle Travis and Blind Blake.
He shared the stage in West Michigan with Leo Kottke,
Bukka White and John Mayall. Besides performing for years as
a solo artist, he was also one-half of the famed duo "Suitcase",
with Jimmie Stagger on
vocals, guitar, bottleneck guitar, mandolin, and fiddle.
For sheer originality and vocal and instrumental prowess,
Frank and Jim will long be remembered for their contribution to the scene
in West Michigan.
I first met Frank around 1974 while he was co-owner of Flaming Rat
Records, a Grand Rapids record store. Unique in West Michigan,
the Rat focused on music that you had no chance of finding anywhere
else this side of the hippest college town or big city
(Grand Rapids being neither). This was the kind of store where,
once they got to know you, the new Bert Jansch record would
automatically be there waiting behind the counter when
you walked in. I owe Frank a debt of gratitude for a
large part of my musical education, through the store and as an informal guitar teacher
("informal" as in "no recompense except for a few Bass Ales".)
In 1987, Frank was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome,
a nerve disorder which robbed him of the use of his left arm,
effectively ending any possibility of playing guitar.
Other symptoms gradually appeared, eventually leading
to a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.
Since 2001, his close friends and family have helped him release three CDs.
The first two are compilations; the last is Frank and Jimmie Stagger's live
1976 recording, released only four days before Frank's passing.
We are grateful that Frank lived long enough to see this final recording come to
fruition, and grateful to all those who played a part.
J. Leitch, Grand Rapids, Michigan