I met Frank Holst at Brew in the East Village (beautiful spot with a patio and great food). He was coming from a meeting and told me to, “look for the old guy.” We both already had lunch, so we decided on drinks. He ordered lemonade and I had beer. The day was a gorgeous 70 degrees, people were outside, and our conversation was backed by a soundtrack of late 70’s tunes on the radio.
We conversed for some time, much dealing with music but at a certain point, we found ourselves talking cars. Reminiscing about our older cars and how we were able to fix a lot of the basic things, change filters, replace the oil, etc. Whereas now with new cars, they are plugged into a computer, diagnostics are run, and it lets you know the problem. Frank found it to be similar to sound equipment today, “Running a board is now old school, everything now can be done on a computer.”
I asked if he’s made the switch over to the computer or stayed faithful, his reply:
“I definitely prefer the board, I’ve learned things on the computer but it just doesn’t feel the same. I’ve even gone so far as to call myself an Audio Mechanic.”
That’s Frank, always humble but still continuing to improve on his craft.
If you’ve been to live music, a musical festival, political speech, or a ballet performance in the Quad Cities, chances are you’ve seen Frank. He’s not the one singing, nor strumming a guitar. He’s on the soundboard, making sure everyone can hear the performance and it runs smoothly.
Over the years he has seen crazy times, but this last year has been a unique challenge for him. With live performances at a standstill, he had to take what he could get. Nevertheless, Frank persevered, because that’s the kind of guy he is. Resilient, intelligent, personable, and an extremely hard worker.
He has countless stories of music in the Quad Cities, but one person continued to come up and that was the late Ellis Kell. One night, in particular, struck Frank at that moment:
“I remember playing a gig with him one night, and I had just broken up with my girlfriend at the time. Out of nowhere, Ellis starts playing Can’t You See by the Marshall Tucker Band. If you know the meaning of the song it was how I was feeling. Ellis just looked over at me and grinned.”
That’s the Quad Cities. We look after one another. That’s what Frank does every time he works an event. He takes care of the artist, and ensures that the audience can hear. He could be in a bigger city, making a lot more money doing what he does, but he’s stayed and helped build up the Quad Cities music scene.
When asked about any favorite memories on the road, Frank simply replied, “too many gigs, too many years.” That sums up Frank Holst. He didn’t say it with malice or ill intent. Just a matter of fact. I’ve seen and done a lot, doing the work I enjoy. At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all strive for?
“You’re just a Cadillac dealer in a Chevy town”, is what Frank Holst heard when he first opened River Cities Sound in 1976, or as Frank put it, “ages ago”. Renting out premium and quality sound equipment in this area, seemed like a risk. But after over 40 years of business, Frank and his business continue to survive, giving touring musicians a reason to stop in the Quad Cities.
After a year of no concerts, he is ready to come back stronger than ever.
River Cities Sound is a locally owned and operated company in Davenport, Iowa. With over 45 years of experience renting out quality sound equipment, they have everything you need for your next concert, corporate event, or special occasion. They have equipment from top brands including Fender, JBL, Bose, SHURE, and Yamaha. Ask about their nonprofit discounts, same-day service, even a free consultation! Visit https://www.rivercitiessoundandlights.com/ for more information or contact Frank Holst at (563) 323-7398 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Callahan Herrig was born, raised, and currently inhabits the Quad Cities. He is a writer and an author of Roswell: A Literary Collection. He also enjoys a glass of bourbon, old records, and waiting for the wave to finally break. You can see more of Callahan’s work on IG @CallahanCreative.