Recent Testimonial: Tom–Cannot express in words how much we LOVED your performances aboard the Star Princess. Your talent is beyond incredible. We were so impressed. Standing ovations are rare and you got them at both of the shows we watched.
Get ready for an evening of fabulous music of all styles, humor, and astounding agility as El Paseo proudly presents The Princess Cruise Line top performer, Tom Franek, Saturday, March 5, 2016, at 7:30 p.m. at the Padre Sunset Nightclub located at 5908 Padre Boulevard.
Tom Franek spent 229 days at sea in 2013 – that’s how popular he is with audiences on the Princess Cruise Ships. This twenty-something singer and songwriter is Northfield’s Minnesota’s most well-travelled native. A graduate of St. Olaf College, famous for its Music Program explains his career choice by saying: “Music chooses you instead of you choosing it.”
After graduating from college in 2006, Franek made a call to a guy he knew who had played on cruise ships. “He got the audition, and the agency placed him in a showband, working with Princess Cruises.
“I was in the show band, the band for all occasions. Whether there was a guest set, a big band set, a Dixieland set…we were the band.” That gave Franek the opportunity to hone his keyboard chops in a range of styles. “I persevered through that and got a great review, and I said, okay, no more ships.”
Returning home in 2007, he learned that Princess Cruises owned a land-based resort in Denali, Alaska. He called the general manager of this lodge, and was hired to play in the bistro doing the same kind of singing and playing that he did on cruise ships. He told them that would be fine and didn’t tell them that he’d never learned songs the showband played. So he hung up that phone and learned 150 songs in a month. Unfortunately, the first night he went through two-thirds of the songs and had to learn a lot more very quickly. It was trial by fire as a performer, but he developed an extensive repertoire of music in a very short time – music of all styles and genres.
After the Alaska gig, Franek went back to sea—this time as a singer-entertainer. He began with a trial spot on a ship for a couple of weeks, and that went well—the rest is history. I’ve been doing this job with the ships since 2008. “I’m a pianist-singer-dancer-comedian-entertainer. I love it”.
Though he’s still based in Northfield MN, Franek travels all over the world. Being American, he’s typically scheduled for cruises on which a majority of the passengers will share his cultural references. That means a lot of Caribbean and Alaska cruises, but he’s also gone to South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. In 2016, his travel engagements will take him to the Hawaiian Island, Figi, Australia, New Zealand, the Panama Canal and Trans-Atlantic to Europe.
What’s the secret to pleasing a seaborne audience? “I don’t try to be someone I’m not. I play to my strengths.” Specifically, “I put on a Minnesota schtick. I draw on the spirit of Prairie Home Companion and Garrison Keillor. I’ll throw in Ole and Lena jokes. I have a sign that says, ‘You Betcha.’” Entertaining an audience in a cruise ship lounge, says Franek, is kind of like being a DJ. “You read the audience and follow the flow. Over the years, you get better at that.”
Relax in the beautiful Padre Sunset Nightclub and be amazed at the energy and sheer talent of Tom Franek. The performance starts at 7:30 p.m. and a cash bar will be available; however, there is limited seating for this show, so please get your tickets early. Listen to Tom at: https://www.facebook.com/TomFranek “12th Street Rag”.