Franklee Anatra’s Show @ Dassani’s June 10th 2022
Updated: Jun 25
Dassani’s is a spectacular seaside venue located at Gull’s Wing. It boasts plenty of floor space, comfortable seating, a bar area, and is perched on top of a boat showroom giving you a beautiful ocean view. If you haven’t been to visit you should take some time to explore this area which has a ton of recreational and scenic opportunities. I was greeted by Avery Saxene, Dassani’s manager who welcomed me and handed me a brochure advertising all the amenities which include, 21 sims connected by paths and a ferry boat, guest bikes or walking paths to explore the sims which house clubs, an art cafe, multiple artisan's shops, a sailor's pub and more. Free boats & Kayaks are available as well as a few fishing areas, two sims of beautiful underwater areas to explore, nature preserves, House & Slip Rentals and even sailing classes!
As the crowd gathered, I got to talk with Winter Thorn who is not only Franklee’s wife and partner in SL & RL & of course Franklee’s biggest fan, but she is also the owner of the very Popular What Next Home furnishings & décor shop & one of my favorites! I settled in with Winter to learn more about one of SL’s most fascinating & talented power couples! But alas the show was about to begin so the juicy celeb stories must wait.
Franklee got it going with “You Make Me Smile” by Uncle cracker, “New Slang” by The Shins, “Here She Comes Again” & “My Best Friend’s Girl” by the Cars, and then together we floated “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison surrounded by ocean waves and the growing crowd. Next up an original song “Mimi” which of course he wrote for, yep, you guessed it, the lovely Winter. A beautiful song with lyrics that would melt any girls heart so I can only imagine how Winter felt when she heard this one for the first time! Next, what ocean concert would be complete without a song by Jimmy Buffet? “A Pirate Looks At Forty” was up followed by another cozy & warm original love song called “Me I kinda Like It” & another beautiful Winter Inspired Love song called “Then there’s you”. He finished it off with one of my favorite songs, "Blower’s daughter" by Damian Rice.
OK, time to go backstage and talk to our smooth love song singer, Franklee, and find out more about how he came to be one of the most popular one-man bands on SL and get the scoop about how he and Winter came to me. Follow me…
Sunshine: I was going to ask you how your love of music began & Winter tells me that your big sister Terri was your biggest musical influence!
Franklee: It’s true my oldest sister Terri was listening to the music that fills my earliest memories. At nine years older, she was a true flower-power hippie. I have one memory of playing in the back yard at about 4 or 5 while Bob Dylan belted out “Like A Rolling Stone” from freshly pressed vinyl. Terri played guitar and sang and for some years was actively trying to go pro. But the thought of myself performing didn’t come around until I was in my late twenties. I was stationed in West Germany for 2 years while in the army and passed the musical instrument library on my way to the chow hall every day until finally I decided to check out a guitar, some song books and began the monotonous task of creating muscle memory & like the song says “I played til my fingers bled”
Sunshine: Ouch, I know that feeling! What about other influences. What are some of the performers or band that have had the most impact on your love of music?
Franklee: I must clarify, performing for an audience is what came late for me. I loved the outdoors like most kids but in the evenings, I was into solitary activities like drawing, painting, and building models. I always had FM radio playing so after the Beatles, Stones, Mamas and the Papas, Kinks, Simon and Garfunkel etc. that my sister exposed me to, you name it most 60’s rock bands were in my ears constantly before age ten and I Loved them all. Later in my teen years I discovered Jim Croce, James Taylor, Eagles, Led Zeppelin, Supertramp and much more.
Sunshine: OK I gotta ask, your SL name Franklee Anatra reminds me of Frank Sinatra. Was that on purpose?
Franklee: My first avatar in 2007 was created to explore making Machinima in Second Life. I got sidetracked by the lure of building things. After making a few customer buildings for me and some of my neighbors I made some clothes, hair & hats. I then made second avatar to use as mannequin while I create. That’s how Franklee was born & his name just happened to be the most favorable one I could pick from the list that day though I did think it was a funny play on the Sinatra name. Later I discovered the live music scene or actually it was revealed to me by Winter.
Sunshine: I hear you are a graphic designer as your RL profession. Did you ever have any aspirations to be a full-time professional musician?
Franklee: Graphic Designer is a catch all for all I’ve done. At 17/18 the army taught me how to repair missile guidance computers and after I got out, I went to work for IBM in the 80’s. Later I was in the advertising industry, programmed database web sites & taught myself how to create models and animate using 3D software as a hobby. In my 20’s I got the idea I was going to write hit songs and put a band together. We got ourselves a producer. It was fun in the beginning, but the band never got out of the spare bedroom, except to play at a backyard party. That was the extent of my efforts to go pro. Looking back now, I’m glad I never turned my love for playing music into a full-time profession. I never want to risk dreading a job where music is the timecard punched. It remains for me a coveted catharsis.
Sunshine: Speaking of design work, Winter tells me that you that you do quite a bit of the modeling for What Next and even some of the animations. How did all that come about?
Franklee: Winter and I met each other though the real-world-wide machinima community. For those who don’t know Machinima is a method of making animated film using software like that designed for making video and computer games. They held meetings and awards ceremonies in SL where extended voicing could take place as opposed to mostly email and text forums at the time. We hit it off quickly and since we lived many miles apart (California & Canada) building our own nest in SL became a way for us to spend time with each other and bridge the distance. That exploded into What Next. We had no plan for it, just one of those lovely whims. The store was Winter’s brainchild. She Knew I made music because I did the soundtracks of my early machinimas, and she convinced me to play a live set for a few friends. I soon discovered all the Whisky-Go-Round, Pranksters & other open mic places. That was the germ that infected me with the online busker bug and from there no one could stop me. Winter and I met in 2008 after she had transplanted her life to Canada from the UK to work for a major game company. We eventually married in 2013 and now live a comfortable and relatively secluded life together in the Southern California Mountains.
Sunshine: You are one of the best one-man bands I’ve ever heard. How did you become proficient with making tracks and what advice would you give technically or otherwise to a musician just starting out on SL?
Franklee: Thanks for saying that! I started using music software in the late 80’s using a Mac. I apprenticed in a start-up recording studio at a time when midi, synthesizers, and instrument sampling was in its infancy. So, I’ve been tinkering with sequencing for decades. It’s fun as heck! If someone wanted to start performing live in SL I’d tell them to learn by doing. I’d also advise them to start at Bones Writer’s Trax service. Just search for Trax in SL. He has explanations and tutorials at his location with links to what you will need hardware-wise and how to hook it all up and make it stream.
Sunshine: Great tips! That certainly explains how your sound evolved to what we know and love today. Many years of practice on the tech side too! How about your RL/SL performing highlights?
Franklee: The real journey for me performing in front of strangers semi-professionally began when I began attending informal jams at a little sandwich shop. I met nearly all my current musician friends there. That place was always packed with diners and musicians sharing tables shoulder to shoulder and it was tons of no pressure fun! My first serious collaboration stemmed from that jam and consisted of me and a country electric guitarist by the name of Billy Vaughn. who toured with Waylon Jennings. Our country rock duo eventually grew to a four-piece band playing weekends in a local bar & town events. We tried to put our originals down, but the need to make a living kept getting in the way. I loved all my bands and am still friends with all my surviving bandmates but now I sing to the metaverse. And to make it like the old days I’ve created as best as I can a band in a box. I love doing the SL scene. It’s funny that the most geographically spread-out form of performing I’ve experienced sometimes feels like the most intimate interaction. Maybe I’m just too much of a wallflower in a crowded in-person setting to be as relaxed and open as I can be with a virtual group of people. At times I’m barely dressed, and no one seems bothered by that!
Sunshine: LOL I think that bout covers it! Thanks so much for sharing your SL and RL with us this evening. Here’s looking forward to many more great shows. Keep those mushy gushy original love songs coming too. We love em!