If you step inside Melody Mart in Homewood, you’ll see the instruments before you hear them. Customers are first greeted with a well-stocked sales floor full of beautiful pianos, drums, guitars and other musical instruments. Myriad accessories and songbooks are also available for purchase, making the store a music lover’s dream.
If you head to the back of the store, towards the private lesson rooms, you’ll begin to hear the instruments. And if you continue straight down the hallway to the last room on the left, you’ll find Frank Anastos, a local guitar-playing legend, who has been teaching guitar lessons at Melody Mart since 1976.
Anastos began playing at the age of 12, after receiving an acoustic guitar for his birthday. He said a lot of his musical inspiration came from the rock music that was on the radio at the time, frequently played by his older siblings in their Olympia Fields home.
“The electric guitar was the focal point of a lot of those classic songs,” Anastos said. “[I was inspired by] the different sounds it could produce and the way that players could express themselves through their music and communicate to the listener.”
While his favorite types of music are rock and blues, Anastos said he enjoys listening to all different musical styles, as long as it has good musicianship.
Luckily, growing up in the 1970s meant Anastos had plenty of legendary rock and blues idols to gain inspiration from: “I have a lot of different guitar players that inspire me. Some of my earliest ones I’d say would be Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Santana, Ritchie Blackmore, Johnny Winter, and Duane Allman and Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers Band,” Anastos said.
That inspiration stuck with Anastos for life; music has been his career since he was a senior in high school. Now, he teaches lessons full-time and performs local gigs with his band, The Big Boppers, alongside bandmates John Falstrom and Dennis Leahy.
With an expansive music career under his belt, there’s no question that Anastos has had many career highlights over the years. One highlight was being inducted into the Rich Central High School Hall of Fame for his extensive work as a guitar teacher.
Another career highlight was recording and releasing a debut album of original material with his band Midnight, a quartet that played mainly rock music, with inspiration from other genres. The band was formed when Anastos and his bandmates were still in high school, after meeting each other while taking lessons at Melody Mart. This album was recently re-released for worldwide distribution by the local record label Drag City.
Despite growing up in a music-loving household, Anastos is surprisingly the only member of his family who plays an instrument. He said guitar is his main instrument, and he can play both electric and acoustic guitar.
“My favorite electric guitars to play are Gibson, Fender and PRS. For acoustic guitars, I prefer Taylor,” Anastos explained.
Happily, Anastos now shares his talents and love of music with his students at Melody Mart. With students ranging in age from 7 years old to adult, Anastos works with a wide variety of learners. He said that while some folks only stick around for lessons for a few months, his longest-running student has been with him for about 25 years.
What is unique about Anastos’s teaching style is that he gives his students the opportunity to play what they like, rather than sticking to the basics.
“Learning guitar teaches discipline,” Anastos said. “You’ll learn the value of hard work, time management and dedication.”
Anastos also said that learning an instrument boosts confidence and helps students develop an open mind to try new things. It’s also a great way to encourage creativity and inspires an appreciation for music.
Anastos currently is accepting new students and has open lesson times available. For more information on lessons, call Melody Mart at 708-798-5500. If you’d like to learn more about Frank Anastos and his music, visit The Big Boppers on Facebook.