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 Mike Anders, Lutz Diehl, Joe del Tufo, Monica Duffels & 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 August 2019

Murlough Bay..... still one of Ireland’s best kept secrets. A special place.

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8th August 2019

A few images from my recent trip to Donegal, including the cover image for new album Avec Toi ( taken by Trevor Cole) for release this week on 🎶😁

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22nd July 2019

Donegal...... just beautiful.
Always inspiring to be here...... 🎶🙏

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15th July 2019

I stumbled across this on YouTube today. A song I recorded in 2008 in Nashville for a solo album entitled Personal..... one that went well under the radar and is no longer available.
Also features some lovely low whistle by Troy Donockley 🎶😁

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4th July 2019

Avec Toi...... some songs in French from moi! ( Jo ) 😁 🎶 🇫🇷 ( including a couple of my Iona favs )

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11th June 2019

Soon in Hardenberg - Dave Bainbridge & Frank Van Essen and band playing SANCTUM & Iona. With sand art by Gert van der Vijver. Come and join us if you can!

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6th June 2019

Dave Bainbridge and Frank Van Essen will be together for another gig on 17th August in The Netherlands!

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1st June 2019

Soon in The Netherlands! With Iona's Dave Bainbridge and Frank van Essen. Music from Frank's album SANCTUM and some well known Iona material. Tickets available now.

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9th June 2019

Out on the river , pulling oars, in the wake of my recent visit to Kells, remembering my Colmkille Curragh voyage in 1997!

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22nd May 2019

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19th May 2019

Here at Kells, Co. Meath, Ireland! Spiritual heart of Ireland. House of St. Colmkille, Book of Kells...
Seems such a long way from Blue Coast Records , California!
Speaking of which , here’s a link to 3 of my songs, remixed by BCRs Cookie Marenco. You can have a listen here , and if you enjoy, can download from BCR.😁

Oops! Forgot to add the link on my first post 😳

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19th May 2019

Here in Kells, Co. Meath, spiritual heart of Ireland. House of St Colmkille, Book of Kells...
Seems a long way from Blue Coast Records, California!
Speaking of which , here’s a link to 3 of my songs , remixed by BCRs Cookie Marenco. You can have a listen here, and if you enjoy, can purchase the download from BCR 😁

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16th May 2019

HOME .....It’s Jo here, and I’m wondering if my recording whirlwind in California was a dream😳 And enjoying the fact that it’s warmer and sunnier here than it was in San Francisco Bay ..... in my dream?

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18th May 2019

Three days , three albums!
Ya can get a lot done when it’s just piano and vocal and no “drop-ins” or edits!
Album 1. 9 Jo Hogg songs plus a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah ( only 4 of the original 80 verses!) , all sung in French

Album 2. 9 Jo Hogg songs sung in English

Album 3. Solo piano tracks of all the songs plus some improvised solo piano
Blue Coast Records will release the albums in DSD( direct stream digital), and all will be available for download direct from joannehoggmusic ...( not sure when🤔)
Home tomorrow 😁

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10th May 2019


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18th May 2019

Did she really say that? 😳

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8th May 2019


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1st April 2019

It’s a stark contrast , that’s for sure. Sunny conditions made our job easier and life a little less harsh for those living in Moria, but there were many tragic stories being lived out in our midst. I saw a family and group of friends carry the dead body of a woman out of the camp on one of the days, and that week, volunteers tried to console a family who had lost a child , one of twins, while making the treacherous boat crossing from Turkey. Hundreds still make the terrifying journey every week. People back home often ask me why they leave their country to end up somewhere as awful as most of the camps. When you hear their stories, it’s not hard to understand why. Even though conditions are desperate in the camp, many folk that I met were so grateful to have survived, and cling to the hope that they might have a chance to start a new life somewhere. But while they are in limbo , EuroRelief will continue to do the best they can to support and care for them , and we will continue to support their passionate efforts.

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25th March 2019

No matter how many times I come here, it’s always quite a surreal experience. The resilience of people to cope in such a difficult environment never ceases to amaze me. It looks better in the sunshine, but the reality is still very grim. There are nasty biting insects in the overcrowded tents and isoboxes, large rats are frequent visitors, and chickenpox and scabies is rife. People stand in line several times a day for food, water, info, assistance .... and the camp is on a steep hill so getting around requires great effort, especially for mothers with small children and heavy bottles of water to carry, and for the elderly too. We’ve found a way to turn very large t shirts into carrying bags that folk can make for themselves requiring only a pair of scissors. This has proved very popular with the women who have so many things to carry , including their laundry. So far, we’ve had three days of vitamin distribution and noting other medical needs that we can return to with specific treatments. Finding particular tents in the sprawling mass can be very challenging , even with the tent number and a map!
And then, a few miles down the road, we mingle with the locals and tourists and enjoy the view and feel very thankful for so much.

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24th April 2019

Currently working on 6 new songs for Miracles and Parables part 2. Photos are from a recent session tracking drums and bass with my fav dynamic duo, Terl Bryant and Phil Barker. Miracles of healing, deliverance and raising the dead , and Parables about the Kingdom of God , the sower and the seed and the good shepherd. Instrumentation will be in keeping with part 1, so it’ll be drums, bass, cello, piano, guitar and my favourite brass instrument, the flugelhorn.
I’ll keep you posted. 😁 jo.

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25th February 2019

Hi Everyone,
Just to let you know that some of the Iona back catalogue plus my solo albums, are now available from Burning Shed - see

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9th February 2019

So , earlier this week, I went to London to record my favourite dynamic duo, Terl Bryant and Phil Barker ( both known to you Iona friends😁). I’ve been working on some new songs for the MAP Project Part 2. We recorded on three new songs, all parable songs! Good Shepherd, Listen( the story of Jesus talking to a crowd about the sower and the seed), and The Kings Party( one of the parables about the kingdom of heaven).
As always, the dynamic duo did not disappoint 😁.
Will keep you posted on progress.

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14th January 2019

Hi folks, Jo here.

Since my last trip to Moria camp in November, 1000 more refugees with this story, making this journey, arrived in Lesvos in December, needing kindness.

All the proceeds from the Road From Ruin CD go to support the R.A.I.N fund (Refugee Aid International Network) Click Here:

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2nd January 2019

Jo here,

To finish off the year, I thought I’d share the Horse and Rider video with you, in memory of Esmerado, my special white horse, featured in the artwork of Iona’s Another Realm, and this year in the artwork of The MAP Project.

The song, from Uncountable Stars, was remixed earlier this year to get a more panoramic sound for the videos use in an exhibition in Japan, so here it is..... the updated version of Horse and Rider, featuring Esmerado.

And finally, I’d like to wish you a very happy and blessed 2019.

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30th December 2018

Hi, Jo here. Thought you might enjoy this.... a wee clip from an evening of trad music with family and local friends at Christmas. I think it’ll be a Festive tradition for years to come 😁🎶

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26th December 2018

A gift for this season - FREE DOWLOAD
Christmas songs (in Dutch!) featuring Iona's Frank van Essen, Dave Bainbridge and Troy Donockley

Yesterday, Marlou & I sang on the marketsquare of our hometown, Hardenberg. Beautiful (Dutch) songs from our Christmas CD Immanuël. It was cold & wet, but we were so moved by the depth of the lyrics, the melodies & the arrangements I did 16 years ago now.
They are still powerful testimonies of Gods love for His people, and some of the arrangements are still favourites of mine, too.

Marlou & I decided to make them available for free this Christmas for you to enjoy. With a little extra: I found all the original mixes in my archives, and remastered them up to today's standards. Everything now sounds so much more open, warm & beautiful. Very happy!

So please feel free to listen and download the music.
And we wish you every blessing for the coming days & the new year. May the love & shalom of King Yeshua be with you always.

Feel free to share and spread the word!

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24th December 2018

A Special message from Frank van Essen.

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4th December 2018

Healing Stories From Lesvos

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19th November 2018

18+ years after the Iona recording of this wonderful tune, I decided to record a new, improvised version with Dave Bainbridge. Listen to the full version at and enjoy SANCTUM

The melody of A Million Stars has been with me since my teens. It's one of those tunes that just "happened" one day while improvising on my own, and has never left me. One day I played it for Dave & Troy and they loved it, so that's how it ended up on the Iona album Open Sky. It's great to hear how the years have shaped the melody and both Dave's and my playing. The version on SANCTUM is as we improvised it in the studio, with a few minor edits, but it's very spontaneous and inspired. Hope you enjoy it. - Frank

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13th November 2018

Frank van Essen's SANCTUM is out now! Very excited to share it with you. With Dave Bainbridge, Troy Donockley and bass legend Jimmy Johnson, this is an album you don´t want to miss! Check it out on - and please share!

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