Foundation of stone

Nashville band Frances & the Foundation at Bob’s

By Gary Spencer

As most any artist from Dayton past or present can attest, being an ambitious, young musician can be challenging and frustrating. The burning desire to make a living out of your craft and get your music out for the world to hear drives many such musicians to major music markets in the US such as New York City, Los Angeles or Nashville. This was certainly the case with the indie rock trio known as Frances & the Foundation, as the musicians in the band Samantha Frances (bass, vocals), Nathan Zumwalt (guitar) and Wes Cramer (drums) felt this same very need and decided that relocating to Music City USA was the place to try and live out their musical dreams.

“None of us are from Nashville,” explains Frances. “I grew up in Colorado. I moved to Nashville from Seattle in 2006 with a different band. I never intended on living in Nashville but it seemed like the right move at the time. It’s a better place to tour from. Our drummer, Wes, is originally from Pittsburgh. He also moved here with a different band for similar reasons. Nathan is from Colombia, Missouri—he moved here to play as well.”

Frances & the Foundation was initially formed in 2010, and while the lineup of the group has shifted a bit since its conception, the current incarnation of the band seems to have the chemistry that all the musicians involved desired and the magic began to happen. The band started picking up hot opening slots opening for the likes of The Gaslight Anthem and The Alabama Shakes, and the band continues to steamroll its way through the indie rock circuit both in Nashville and throughout the country.

“In 2015, the newest line up took hold and has continued to gain momentum ever since,” Frances says.

The momentum that Frances & the Foundation has picked up at points along the way has also encouraged them into making their own records. In 2012, their first self-titled EP was followed by the One Voice Among Many EP a year later. Then late last year the current lineup issued the Phases EP to rave reviews and paired that release up with a video for its lead single, “Plant the Seed,” a punchy, catchy, sing along rockin’ number that boasts a great vocal hook that should get crowds bouncin’ and woahing along. The rest of the disc is an intelligent meshing of classic rock sounds, pop propensity, shades of ’90s alt rock and maybe just a slight touch of the music that Nashville is famous for: country. Frances herself seems to agree that the tunes that her band puts together are a reflection of many musical influences and inspirations.

“We’re definitely a rock band,” insists Frances. “We’ve been compared to anything from Radiohead to Sunny Day Real Estate to Joan Jett to ’90s alternative grunge. We certainly have an affinity for ’90s alternative, early 2000s indie rock and of course, the golden age of rock from the ’60s and ’70s.”

Frances & the Foundation is currently working on their very first full length album that will see the light of day at some point this year. The trio is hoping to finance this endeavor through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. According to Frances, the band has evolved its sound over the years and the upcoming full length should further exemplify the group’s metamorphosis.

“We’ve heard from critics that there’s been growth in our music as each EP has come out,” she explains. “The new record will have some surprises. Our sound has definitely evolved. We will be playing a good portion of the songs for the new record at the show in Dayton.”

Which brings us to what’s really Frances & the Foundation’s bread and butter—playing live. Despite some of their introspective, moody singer-songwriter tendencies found in spots throughout their EP’s, the current trio is a rockin’ machine that likes to make people party and have a good time.

“We rock much harder than you would think from the recordings,” claims Frances. “We bring authenticity to our live show, and occasionally we’re even funny. We hope to move you emotionally, make you dance, scream, cry and want to make out with a stranger—all at the same time.”

This coming Saturday’s show at Blind Bob’s will mark Frances & the Foundation’s debut performance in the Gem City and the trio have nothing but high hopes for their premier gig in D-town.

“We are very excited about this opportunity,” Frances says. “We’ve heard nothing but great things about Dayton. Any time to get away from your home base is always a blast. We love playing music, and we love to meet new people.”

And while global musical domination would be nice, Frances & the Foundation is keeping their goals simple.

“I no longer think of it as ‘trying to make it,’” explains Frances. “I think we would be happy just being able to play music full time and have a fan base that gets something from our music.”

Frances & the Foundation will perform Saturday, Jan. 30 at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. in downtown Dayton. Good English, Benchmarks and Evil Eye Gypsy are also on the bill. Admission is $5 for patrons 21 and over. Doors at 8:30 p.m., music at 9:30 p.m. For more information, please visit

Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at

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Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at

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