Seth Wade is perceptive.
The musician who performs under the name Frate draws songwriting inspiration by observing the passersby downtown, the people he interacts with and the tales he picks up through listening or reading. He describes his ensuing lyrics and music as highly focused on storytelling.
“A lot of the time it is unconscious,” Wade said. “I just pick things up, put it to paper then put music behind it.”
The artist is one of several Hannibal natives who perform locally and use Mark Twain’s hometown as a musical source.
Unique acoustic songs
Wade began focusing on singing when he was 15, and later learned to play guitar.
“I’ve always enjoyed playing music,” he said. “I didn’t have anyone in my family who played, so it took more time to figure it all out.”
It wasn’t until Wade was 22 and attending Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville that he become serious about performing live and adopting a stage name.
“When I realized that people I didn’t know were listening to my lyrics and telling me how their stories related to my song lyrics, I wanted a name that wasn’t my actual name,” Wade explained. “Not every lyric I write is a value of mine or even necessarily my story, but I find joy in telling others’ stories in my own words.”
Wade began searching for a one-syllable name not taken by another artist, and he eventually settled on Frate.
“I also like trains,” he said with a laugh.
Wade defines his music as acoustic, and he cites John Mayer, Colour and Gregory Alan Isakov as musical influences.
“Something cool is my notes are improvised, so no song will ever be played the exact same way twice,” he said. Wade said he is working on Frate’s third album.
Wade describes his songs as written for adults “who don’t mind honesty and a little vulgarity,” and he hopes they prompt discussion among listeners.
“My songs are pertinent to a wide variety of people, and I hope they drive thought among those who listen to them,” Wade said. However, what he sings isn’t necessarily true to his personal life.
“When Twain created the characters in ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,’ he’s not saying that all of these people are model citizens in which he supports their values and habits,” Wade explained. “Rather, he’s painting a picture of reality. I’m just trying to do the same.”
Regardless, hearing people sing his lyrics is always cool, he said. “It’s like a circle effect where if you’re making money and enjoy doing it, then you keep wanting to do it (perform and write songs) more and more.”
Wade enjoys how Hannibal’s music scene is growing.
“The past five years, Hannibal’s downtown has been thriving and making way for more venues to build this musician culture,” he said. “When you have many people performing, it pushes all of us to get better because there’s only so many stages to play on. I hope more musicians come in and compete for those stages because it just pushes everyone to be better.”
— By Ashley Szatala