Song of the Week: “Etude 11” by Frank Exum

Waco native Frank Exum is a staple of the local music scene, playing everything from classical Spanish acoustic guitar to classic rock … and just about everything in-between.

You might be familiar with Frank Exum thanks to the Exum Studio of Guitar, which provides private guitar lessons to Waco music lovers. Or you may have caught one of his gigs with Venus E, Spirits of Mars, or sitting in with other local bands. Starting from a young age and throughout his 30 years of experience, Exum has studied — and performed! — many different types of music around the world and is ready and willing to share his skills and knowledge with others. 

“​​My big brother, Jim Exum, took me to see ZZ Top’s first tour stop at Jackson Coliseum in 1970,” Exum says. “Soon thereafter my affinity for the guitar began to blossom. I heard Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Frank Marino, and Robin Trower, and I immediately tried to harness that incredible musical energy which they all seemed to effortlessly exude to my young ears.”

This performance of Heitor Villa-Lobos’s “Etude 11,” a classic many guitar players tackle at some point in their careers, comes from The Texas Music Cafe YouTube channel. Exum’s passion for music is evident throughout this instrumental piece as his hands move effortlessly across the guitar during both the slower and more energetic passages.

“I try to paint a picture through the great notes of Villa-Lobos. As I play the A section of the piece, the image is that of a young girl walking through the Brazilian rainforest on her way home from visiting her friends,” explains Exum. “Suddenly a tiger emerges from behind a tree just as she passes by but a few yards away. Then the chase ensues during the B section!” 

Exum’s upcoming acoustic performances include: 

  • Susan L. Sistrunk Fine Art Gallery, October 23, 6 – 9 pm
  • Cen-Tex Chamber of Commerce Social Hour at the Waco Convention Center, October 28, 4:30 – 6 pm

Subscribe to The Waco Insider’s free weekly event listings newsletter to ensure you don’t miss any of Exum’s shows or other live music in Waco.

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Alyssa Erchinger was an intern at Waco Insider in the fall of 2021 and is a 2022 graduate of Baylor University's Professional Writing and Rhetoric program.

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