On Saturday, May 21, Waco guitarist Ken Frazier will be inducted into the prestigious Texas Swing Hall of Fame in San Marcos at the conclusion of the 19th Texas Swing Festival.
The formal ceremony begins at 7:30 p.m. to honor the 2011 Texas Western Swing Hall of Fame inductees at the park by the San Marcos Plaza Stage, located at Hopkins and CM Allen Parkway on the banks of the San Marcos River.
This year’s honorees also include steel guitarist Smily Weaver and vocalists Lee Bell, Carolyn Martin, Durwood Strube, Tom Holmes and Jimmy Widner. Johnny Lyon will be inducted posthumously.
During the day, events will be held at the San Marcos Courthouse Square from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in conjunction with the Texas Natural Festival, which will include booths and activities for the entire family while Western Swing music is performed throughout the day at the courthouse square.
Ken will play from 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Texas Playboy Reunion Band. He’ll perform again from 2:15 to 3:30 p.m. as one of three elite guitarists chosen as best guitar pickers in Texas called Picker’s Paradise.
The Hall of Fame Band including Ken will perform at the park by the historic San Marcos River after the induction of the new 2011 Hall of Famers between 7:30 p.m. and midnight. This concert is free and open to the public. Bring your own lawn chairs or blankets.
I’ve known and respected Ken Frazier as a musician and as a wonderful friend for about a dozen years. During that time I’ve heard many interesting stories about his life as a musician. For this blog article, I’ll stick to facts and save the fun stuff for later.
Here’s a brief bio:
He was born in Waco and began teaching himself guitar at the age of 6 on an old Stella model guitar. Two years later he was given a Gibson Junior guitar that launched his performing career. When Ken turned 9, country music star and family friend Hank Thompson attended Ken’s birthday party and performed at the event. Two years later, Ken returned the favor by performing at Hank Thompson’s wedding broadcast on the radio. By the age of 13, Ken was playing lead guitar every Saturday night in the Waco Jamboree Music Show Band at Wright’s Arena.
When Ken was 15, he left Waco to join the Columbia recording artist, Charlie Adams and the Western All-Stars to play Bob Wills' arrangements of the popular Western Swing music. They traveled throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico.
After a few years, Ken returned to Waco to perform on the inaugural KWTX television broadcast of Home Folks Show co-hosted by fiddler Johnny Gimble. In 1958, Ken tried his hand at rock 'n' roll in the Waco band Down Beats. He also played in the house band at Waco’s popular Terrace Club.
The next year, Ken joined Buddy Knox’s rockabilly road band as a performer and arranger.
By his late 20s, Ken had an enviable resume of musical performances all over the country. He then returned to Waco once again to complete his formal education with a GED followed by college work at McLennan Community College and Baylor University.
In 1979, Ken began a long teaching career at MCC in the Commercial Music Department and even wrote a book on guitar technique. Today he still enjoys sharing his love and knowledge of the guitar with students of all ages in his home studio.