Frank Copenhaver, the central presence in the rotating cast of musicians and friends that makes up the psychedelic folk group Hurricanes of Love, has chosen an appropriate name for his music project. Copenhaver himself is a force of nature, an ebullient enthusiast of goodwill and good vibes—in a recent interview, he described two different places as “paradise on earth.” He releases music in a whirlwind—two albums last year (Holy Sky and Heavenly Wheel), a brand-new EP for his current tour, and a new album on the way this fall. And he has no fixed location, landing, he says, “where the wind would take me.”
Copenhaver, 24, has lived in Atlanta for the last two years. He settled there after a two-month hike on the Appalachian Trail. (“I love hiking, being out for a couple of months and soaking up the holy vibes out there,” he says.) But at the end of his current tour, which is winding through Tennessee and North Carolina before heading up the East Coast, he’ll stop in Boston for good.
“I’m actually moving to Boston at the end of the tour,” he says. “Boston is paradise on earth. For anybody wanting to do folk music, Boston is the place, in my mind. The music scene there is mind-blowing and the people are amazing. I’m moving up to this place called the Whitehaus; it’s the coolest house around there. They have shows once a week and they have a record label—they put out vinyl and stuff like that. Its focus is solely music and arts, mostly music.”
Boston will also be a convenient headquarters for him to finish his hike of the Appalachian Trail and absorb more holy vibes. “At this point I’ve done three-quarters of it. I did the first half in two months, from Springer Mountain up to Harpers Ferry, W.V. And then the next year I started out at Harpers Ferry and went up into New York, right into New York City. So I’ve still got about 600 miles to go.”
Copenhaver’s music is just as wide-ranging as his itinerant lifestyle—his droning, fingerstyle guitar mixes up 1960s avant-folk with more traditional acoustic music, as well as ambient freakouts, found sound, movie samples, and even a rap on “Behova the Phenom,” from Heavenly Wheel.
“I try to find that perfect middle ground between the old folk and the new folk and try to bridge the gap with Hurricanes of Love. I try to bring awareness of all that psychedelic fingerpicking and all that soulful singing mixed with more crazy stuff. Looking back and ahead at the same time. Because I’m usually on tour and moving around a lot, I don’t have the means to carry around all my records. But I definitely have a couple of John Fahey records—that’s pretty much what I listen to most of the time. Bert Jansch and Pentangle and that kind of stuff. Sir Richard Bishop, Jack Rose, and all those gangstas.”
Copenhaver never tries to reproduce his studio recordings on stage. Instead, his live shows depend on where he is and who shows up. Members of the “band” are spread across the eastern half of the United States; some of them may only perform once or twice during one of Copenhaver’s tours.
“I write all the tunes and I’m always in it, and then there’s a revolving cast of pretty much my Atlanta family and my Boston family,” he says. “I used to live in East Tennessee, in Johnson City, before I took that Appalachian Trail trip, and I’ve got a singing-saw friend who lives in Johnson City, and he’s coming to meet me in Knoxville. It’s people from all around. Some people up in New York City are members, so pretty much Atlanta, New York City, Johnson City, and Boston, but it’s always me. I’ll go on tours that I’m the only person, and then I’ll go on tours like this one where I’ll be playing solo some and then there’ll be a lot of people on stage for some shows.”