Amy & the Hank Sinatras, a group out of New Orleans, takes its name from its diverse repertoire. Their songs give a nod to many of the greats, from the through-and-through honky tonk of Hank Williams Sr. to the Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra, with elements of blues and rock thrown into the mix. It labels itself as an offshoot of swing and covers much of the great music from eras past, although it also delves into original material at times. The group's first album, From Hank to Frank, was released in the late '90s and includes a baker's dozen of songs sung in the past by such artists as Patsy Cline, Louis Jordan, Wanda Jackson, and Ruth Brown, among others. Offbeat Magazine honored the group with a pair of awards for best new band. The album Ladies Must Dress followed. Singer/songwriter Amy Adams leads the outfit. A native of Helena, AR, she grew up in North Louisiana and fell under the influence of such country legends as George Jones, Williams, and Cline. An early pursuit of music found her in choirs at church and at school, but marriage in the '70s and the arrival of three daughters took her in a different direction. She ended up working on computers for about 12 years and confined her singing to nightly lullabies for her children. Following a divorce, she left her systems analyst job and established a band called Amy & Friends with bassist Jack Carter and drummer Willie Panker, who was also her boyfriend. Combining Adams' penchant for rockabilly and country with Panker's affinity for swing, jazz, and blues, the group evolved into Amy & the Hank Sinatras.
Panker took up the drumsticks when he was ten years old and within four years he turned professional. Time spent under the guidance of Fred Below, who drummed for Little Walter and Muddy Waters, instilled a love for the genres of blues and jazz. After leaving Below's tutelage, he studied with Roy Knapp. In the Chicago area, Panker had the opportunity to play with such greats as Jimmy Rogers, Junior Wells, and James Cotton. Bassist Carter, a native of Fort Worth, TX, was 15 years old when he started playing with Freddy Cisneros and Jimmy Don Smith. He played with a number of other artists over the course of the next 30 years, among them Delbert McClinton, Roscoe Harvey, Z.Z. Hill, Sonny Terry, Brecker Brothers guitarist Mike Stams, and Mose Allison. After settling in New Orleans, Carter began to record and play with a number of blues and R&B outfits that included Tabby Thomas, Guitar Slim Jr., Raful Neal, Paula & the Pontiacs, Kenny Neal, and Mark Adams, among others. The bassist also was a member of the King Bees during the '80s and studied with a bassist from the Texas Playboys, Luther J. Wills, who was also bandleader Bob Wills' brother. He also spent time in France as part of a jazz ensemble known as the Joe Rogers Trio. In addition to his musical pursuits, Carter also teaches sociology at the University of New Orleans. Rounding out Amy & the Hank Sinatras lineup is Montana native John Fohl, a guitarist and singer who settled in the Crescent City in 1996. He has worked as a musician for almost two decades, with about half of that time devoted to the Pacific Northwest's music scene. His credits include the Cherry Poppin' Daddies' gold record in 1998, Zoot Suit Riot.