Frank Van Essen

Frank's Gear Page > Songwriter, musician Iona / 1990-1993, 1999-present
Drums / Percussion / Violins / Vocals Drums / Percussion / Violins / Vocals Drums / Percussion / Violins / Vocals Drums / Percussion / Violins / Vocals Drums / Percussion / Violins / Vocals Drums / Percussion / Violins / Vocals Drums / Percussion / Violins / Vocals Drums / Percussion / Violins / Vocals Drums / Percussion / Violins / Vocals Drums / Percussion / Violins / Vocals
Photos by Joe del Tufo, Monica Duffels, Mike Anders, Lutz Diehl & Janien Kommer
F rank was born in 1967 and was brought up with music, both his parents being professional musicians, and with a brother studying violin at the conservatoire of music.

Frank's first drums were his mum's pots & pans, and many buckets lost their bottoms, much of her dismay! Although clearly a rhythmic talent who could never sit still, Frank decided to pick up violin, probably brainwashed hearing his brother practicing scales for 6 hours a day! He was never a really good student (always too many other hobbies) but Frank turned out to be a very talented and natural violin player who developed his own style from very early on. He learned mainly from just copying what he heard his teachers play - and was caught years later when one of his teachers discovered he wasn't actually reading his music, but playing by ear!

His fascination with rhythm & drums was never gone. At age 15 he got the opportunity to take up the sticks, and started practicing like a madman - soon to be a better player than his first teacher!

From that time on he started playing in all kinds of bands (including his high school's big band whose favorite tune was the Muppet Show theme!) mainly playing worship and gospel music. His first band was called "Judah" - a Youth with a Mission band with Dave & Becky Durham, Fred & Mary Dallenbach and Celeste Yohai, together with Karen Lafferty.

From then on, Frank quickly became a number one choice for many sessions and live performances, including concerts with Margaret Becker, Rick Cua, Marcel McArthur, Jessy Dixon, Billy & Sarah Gaines, Susan Ashton, Julie & Buddy Miller, Nina Astroem, Adrian Snell, Chris Eaton, Ralph van Manen & many others.

He met Dave Bainbridge in 1989 while touring Adrian Snell's "The Passion" and was asked to join in 1990. The band played a few concerts at Flevo, Christian Artists, the Spoor 7 festival in Holland and a performance at the Leverkusen Jazz festival, and was featured in a 60-minute documentary by Dutch television which brought the band to and Mull.

It soon became evident that the logistics of having a Dutch drummer was a little too complicated for the band, so after one and a half years, their ways parted again. Frank had joined a well known Dutch worship band (the Ronduit -unpronounceable for the English, I know!- Praise Band) in the meantime as drummer, violin player and singer, and was soon asked to start writing songs and arranging for the band, something he really enjoyed and perfected in the years to follow. Some of Frank's songs became very well known and are sung regularly in Dutch churches. Frank rejoined in June 1998, soon after the departure of drummer Terl Bryant.

Over the years, Frank and his wife Marlou recorded many CD's in Dutch in their own studio, including a Christmas CD in Dutch titled "Immanuel", featuring Dave Bainbridge & Troy Donockley. At the moment of writing this (June 2011) they are working on their solo album which will be released towards the end of 2011. Frank and Marlou regularly lead worship in churches and conferences throughout the world, with their own band called "Dew" sometimes joined by members of (see ).

In 1997, Frank was asked to be music director for EO's Classic Festival which led him to writing and arranging for a small orchestra. From that moment on, he fell in love with writing for strings. Today he is regularly called upon as string arranger and performer for many well known Dutch artists (see ). His strings can be heard on several hit radio singles. At the moment, Frank is studying Orchestration with the Berklee School of Music in the USA to further develop his skills as arranger and orchestrator for full orchestra.

Frank's wide variety of musical activities include composition, arranging, producing, teaching, recording, mixing & mastering in his own studio.

Frank lives in Collendoorn with his wife Marlou and 5 cats.
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17th January 2017

Doing the pre-gig tourist dash around Gdansk. Snowmen on the beach, the longest pier in Europe, the tallest cathedral , the most colourful streets, frozen lakes and rivers.....just stunning ... and freezing ❄️⛄️.

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17th January 2017

SNOW IN GDANSK, POLAND.
This is where I'll be gigging tomorrow evening , joined by Andy Rogers , and some local musicians. We had a lovely time this evening playing through some old Iona classics together, though I do miss my best Iona mates, Dave, Frank, Martin and Phil! Hope you're all enjoying your weekend wherever ya are. ⛄️🎶

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13th January 2017

TAKING SONGS TO GDANSK , POLAND.
Songs from Iona, Uncountable Stars, The Cave Sessions, Raphael's Journey and The MAP project going to Gdansk Poland.
As for the earlier post of an Iona gig in London???? That's a mystery to me ! I'll definitely not be there!

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10th January 2017

Hello fellow Ionians... Thought I'd share this blessing for the new year with you. It's still in demo stages, but I hope you enjoy it.
Be blessed in 2017 and we will continue to make beautiful music together in different combinations and collaborations. Be blessed!

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14th January 2017

PSALM 5
A new song for a new year🙏🎶
Fresh this morning.
Wishing You God's peace, joy and His power and love in 2017.

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25th December 2016

WISHING YOU A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS....🎶🙏
Here's a wee song from home, one I first heard decades ago when Julie Andrews recorded it on a Christmas album. My dad always played it when we were putting up decorations. One of my nostalgic, lesser known favourites..... and slightly Celtic 😄

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17th December 2016

TWO BROTHERS (not an IONA song :-( but there are three past Iona members playing it!).
It's the first parable song from the MAP project. Thanks for listening - you can download it here -

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16th December 2016

AN IONA SONG.....
In the hills of Donegal , on a rare windless winter day, just before I left for the refugee camps......

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12th January 2017

IONA UPDATE
Things have been quiet on the Iona front for a while now and we are often asked when the next gigs/album will be. So we wanted to update you.

For some time we have been considering the future of the band, and during these discussions, it has become clear that, certainly for now, this chapter of Iona’s story, as a touring and recording band, has come to a close. Frank has decided to move on to pursue other challenges and projects. Jo, as well as having a growing need in recent years to prioritise family commitments, has also become increasingly involved in mission work with her home church and will be going on some short mission trips to refugee camps in the coming months.

We do not know what will happen in future years, whether we will get together again as Iona. The door will remain open, but for the foreseeable future, the next and exciting chapters of our journey will involve other avenues.

Jo is also currently working on her MAP project, which features Phil Barker and ex Iona member Terl Bryant.

Dave and Frank are involved in the ‘Celestial Fire’ band, which will continue to play Iona music as well as Dave’s solo music. Dave will also continue touring with the Strawbs and as a duo with Sally Minnear, as well as work on various other studio and live projects.
Frank is also working on a solo album and is incredibly busy and in demand as a producer and arranger in The Netherlands.
Martin is working on a project with his wife Lynn Caldwell that combines music and written reflections to be published online throughout the year and is looking forward to spending an extended period of time in Canada with family next year, and collaborating and performing with Canadian musicians that he’s worked with in recent years.

Phil will continue to work on various musical collaborations and sessions including Jo’s MAP project.

Thank you for all your support and enthusiasm over the years, we so appreciate it. We have had a wonderful journey since that first gig on June 24th 1989, working with so many special people, too many to mention here. We are so grateful for all of you who have listened to our music, attended gigs, bought the cds, promoted concerts, encouraged and supported us.

Do keep visiting this page where we will continue to post news of projects band members are working on. Dave & Debbie continue to run Open Sky Records and Iona’s cds (and other Open Sky releases) will of course remain available from the web
store (we are currently looking at options to make available the Iona albums that are unavailable at the moment).
IONA

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8th December 2016

Hi, Jo here with a clip of the first parable song from the MAP Project: Two Brothers
You can hear and download the full song (plus all the earlier releases) at

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4th December 2016

Vitamins, a song and prayers for healing all gratefully received. Miracles witnessed. There was no electricity and it was dark and damp but we are the light of the world and we bring hope. ✨.
Thankyou for your prayerful support 🙏. Greatly appreciated.

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2nd December 2016

WELCOME TO MY HOME!
This disused industrial warehouse has become home to about 1000 people. They are cold, hungry and. hopeless. They have no medical care. So much is needed. We tried to organise fun and games for 100 kids. It was chaos. But there were smiles and hugs and laughter.

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5th December 2016

INSIDE.....
a refugee camp in Greece. Outside it was snowing. Inside , music played, children danced and sang, people told their stories. For those of you who still think there are no women and children in these camps, here are some photos from tonight.

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2nd December 2016

SONG WRITING IN DONEGAL.....
A quick visit out west today to pick up a guitar from Donegal guitar makers , Emerald Guitars. They are kindly loaning me one of their resilient resin guitars for my trip to the refugee camps in Greece.
I wrote a song too 😄
Another one for the MAP project !
And it really looked like the photos. What a beautiful day 🌤✨

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22nd November 2016

Hi Everyone, Dave here. Tomorrow is my son Luca's 19th birthday. It would be a brilliant surprise for him if there was a big influx of orders for the lovely cards he has designed (all are hand made by him). This new venture is huge for him. Being autistic, his chances of ever being employed are close to zero, but this home based work around his own idea and enthusiasm (taking photos of our cats) will really help with his self esteem and self confidence. And a huge thanks to those who have already bought sets of the cards from around the globe!
The two ‘cat’ cards feature one of our 3 rescue cats, the very handsome Colin! Luca has also created some lovely Christmas cards with his own illustrations! These are available directly from us on the Iona web store in sets of 2, 4 or 10. Go to

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10th December 2016

MAPPING UNCHARTED TERRITORY!
Me and my guitar are joining a team to go to a refugee camp of around 60,000 Syrian people near Thessaloniki , Greece, in 10 days time.
Look at these images. Imagine this had happened to your home and your life had become that of a refugee, living in the squalor of a camp in winter.
I'd been asking God which parable song I was to write next. The Good Samaritan came to mind...... But it would be hypocritical of me to write the song and not live the story. I'll keep you updated on the journey.

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7th November 2016

MORE MAPPING....
Miracles and Parables.
Back to England tomorrow for another video shoot for the next MAP project songs. And, making a start on recording another song called Hunger( about the miracle of food multiplication ! )
MAP project musicians on these tracks are
Terl Bryant. Drums/ percussion
Phil Barker. Bass
Graeme Flowers. Flugelhorn
Andy Baker. Guitar
Alex Priest. Cello
And me, Jo Hogg. Vocals and piano.
And behind the camera, Louis Bryant 👍.

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5th November 2016

HORSE AND RIDER
Trust, freedom, grace....
A few images from the video for this track off Uncountable Stars.
( for general release in Dec)

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16th November 2016

Dave here - here's a great Christmas present idea! Over the years, many of you have very kindly supported our son Luca (who is autistic) by buying the Songs for Luca & Songs for Luca 2 albums. Money from the sales of these CDs continues to go directly towards helping Luca. Luca will be 19 this month and he and Debbie still do work together. Lately, Luca has become very keen on taking photos, especially of our cats, this has led to Luca deciding to make some cards which we very much hope you like and consider buying to support him in his new enterprise. Luca has created 4 card designs - two Christmas ones and 2 featuring great photos he's taken of none other than Colin the cat! You can check them out at
(The Songs for Luca cds are also still in stock should you wish to add one of those!)

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20th October 2016

Rainbows and reflections.....
Downhill beach and cliffs North Coast, Ireland.
Just a couple of miles from where St Columba's first parish was located.
What a beautiful morning 😄

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16th October 2016

A QUICK UPDATE.
What's coming next on the MAP project??

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15th October 2016

Hi, Jo here.
Here's 'Thirstl' - - second song from the M.A.P Project (Miracles And Parables) - let me know what you think!
You can download the track for whatever price you decide from the link above.

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6th October 2016

MAKING MOVIES....
Well, more of a song video really!
HORSE AND RIDER from album Uncountable Stars.
Jim Crone, band photographer for the Woven Cord artwork. Now Jim is more into cinematography than photography.
Keep an eye out for the video release soon 🎶🏇😄

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7th October 2016

MORE MAPPING!!
In the studio to mix the first of the parable songs called TWO BROTHERS!
Judging by Tre's expression, it could be challenging 😙!

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7th November 2016

MORE REFLECTIONS!
I just love them. Moments from this evening on the River Bann, Co. Antrim. ( Jo)

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18th September 2016

Just a wee song for the morning 🎶🎶
Wishing you a blessed weekend.
Jo

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18th September 2016

Miracles and Parables......
Psalm 107:2
"All of you, set free by God.... Tell the world how He freed you from oppression..... Some of you wandered lost for years.... Hungry and thirsty.... On the brink of exhaustion..."
Here's some artwork for The MAP project. And here's the link to the first song release/ video.
Jo.

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22nd September 2016

Hi, Jo here.

Here's 'The General' - first song from the M.A.P Project (Miracles And Parables) - let me know what you think!
You may download the track for whatever price you decide here:

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6th September 2016

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9th September 2016

Celestial Fire band UK tour starts Friday 9th September in York! Playing music from my solo albums and Iona music (including one track NEVER before played live!). Please share the video! View all the other Celestial Fire tour promo videos at
Thanks (Dave)!

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