photo - Russ Carson

Ethan Hughes
Searching for a Home


  Searching for a Home

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Eathan Hughes - lead vocal, dobro
Russ Carson - banjo, rhythm guitar
Nate Grower - fiddle
Marc MacGlashan- mandolin
Sav Sankaran - bass, vocals
Frank Solivan II - lead guitar, vocals
Wally Hughes - tenor vocals
Norman Wright - tenor vocals


Searching for a Home * Old Swinging Bridge *
Never Let Your Deal Go Down * Deep River *
Panhandle Rag * Ain't it Funny * Delia
Poet With Wings * Stay Away from Me *
I Couldn't Find My Walking Shoes *
Love Hurts * *Woman Left me Blues

Ethan Hughes can't remember a time when bluegrass music wasn't being played around his house. Aside from the radio and the record player, his mom and dad had a bluegrass band called Fretloose. Ethan says "I grew up listening to most of these tunes during my parents' Wednesday night band practices. I didn't even know I knew these tunes. I kind of learned them subconsciously I guess." It's obvious from this recording that a lot of things about bluegrass music are rooted in Ethan's subconscious. He learned how to sing and phrase his singing and dobro playing. Perhaps the most important thing that imbedded itself in his subconscious is how to sing and play with taste. Ethan is about 20 years old, but that represents 20 years of listening to and loving good bluegrass music. Most of the musicians on this CD are young men like Ethan, and they play some hot leads and interesting backup, but always with taste. Listening to this CD you never get the impression that any of the musicians are trying to prove how fast or how traditional or how non-traditional they can sing or play. This CD contains inspired impressive music, but it seems to flow out of the musicians with ease and confidence.

Track 1 fittingly starts out with a song written by Ethan. He plays the intro on the dobro, and Nate plays one of his fine fiddle breaks. It's worthwhile to pay attention to the tone that Mark Mcglashin gets on the mandolin solo. It's great in the pocket playing. Russ Carson's banjo playing here, and on the rest of the CD shows his mastery and devotion to Scruggs style bluegrass banjo. I think I hear a little J.D. Crowe in there as well. Russ plays solid rhythm guitar on this track and all but two of the other tracks on the CD as well. Frank Sullivan II does something not easy to do on this, and most of his other solos on the CD. He plays a great bluegrass guitar break that doesn't sound like Tony Rice played it first. I love Tony's playing, and Frank shows his respect for Tony very clearly on one of the tracks, but this solo shows his own personal, well developed style of flatpicking. The trio singing is beautiful. To me Ethan's lead singing is the thing that really makes everything work. Sav Sankaran sings tenor on this track while providing the foundation for the whole shebang with solid bass playing. Frank Sullivan II sings the baritone part. It sounds just right.

Track 2, Ethan says "I know this song to be originally done by Ted Lundy and the Southern Mountain Boys (with Bob Paisley on guitar). I first heard our family friend Joe Haftl sing this song with my parents. Joe was also on the Ted Lundy and the Southern Mountain Boys recording and sang lead on the chorus. This is another fine trio song with Ethan's dad, Wally Hughes, singing the tenor part. Otherwise the personnel is the same as track 1.

Track 3. Ethan learned this song from the record of an obscure folk-singer. The version that he sings though is pure bluegrass. They must have recorded this one while Frank went out for coffee, because this is the only track he isn't on. It's a father son duet with Wally singing tenor again. It's like a brother duet only better. I love Ethan's lead singing on this.

Track 4. Deep River was written by Paul Williams. Ethan says "This is a tune my dad has sung since the beginning of time. Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass have recorded it. Orrin Starr did a version too." This one is another father-son duet with similar personnel as track 2, but no baritone voice. This is the track where Frank Sullivan II pays a fitting tribute to Tony Rice in his solo. It's fitting to do this because Tony changed the way guitar leads are played in bluegrass. The solo is not a copy of something Tony played, but you can hear his influence in Frank's approach. There's a lot of fine dobro playing on this track for upcoming players to learn from. Nate plays a burning fiddle solo, and Mark plays a very impressive mandolin solo. Russ Carson plays both the solid rhythm guitar and inventive and rock solid banjo lead and backup here.

Track 5. They did this instrumental without Russ. It might have been his turn to get the coffee. That taste thing shows up here again. Panhandle Rag was written by Leon McAuliffe and recorded by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys on a recording that featured Leon's steel guitar. I've heard bluegrass players play this like a 33 1/3 record going at 78 rpms. This men have already shown that they're not afraid of speed, but they play this with a gentle swing that is truer to the original than many faster versions. Ethan does a great job of adapting the tune to dobro, and Nate plays as fine as ever. Frank plays a surprising and wonderful solo on this track. His playing shows that he listens to a lot different kinds of music and has no trouble making it bluegrass swing. Mark does a solo on this that made me do an audio double take. It sounds as though he took McReynolds picking a step further and cross-picks between three pairs of strings. Original, tasteful stuff.

Track 6. Ethan learned this song from his dad, Wally who learned it from a Lou Reid recording. It was written by Norman Wright, and Norman sings the tenor part in the nicely blended trio chorus. Ethan does a fine dobro solo on this. Did I mention that Ethan's good taste clearly extends to his choice of songs?

Track 7. This is another song that Ethan learned from the folk-singer's record, but he sings it much better than the guy he learned it from. Ethan is not playing dobro on this track, but a Weissenborn style Hawaiian guitar that's played on the lap like a dobro, although Ethan is using a different tuning. This tune has only Sav, Mark, Russ and Ethan on it. They were warming up before the session really started. I think putting this on the CD was a great decision. Ethan does a fantastic vocal on this, and I think that Sav really shines on this track. He lays down a great groove for the song.

Track 8. This is a tune that was performed by Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. Ethan says he remembers hearing Joe Haftl sing it when he was little. Frank sings baritone and Wally sings tenor. They make a great sounding trio.

Track 9. Bill Monroe recorded this song on an album that he did in the 1970s. The later Bill Monroe albums might not get the attention that the early ones did, but they should. The quality of Monroe's output varied very little after the first recordings with the classic band that included Earl Scruggs, and the later records deserve more attention. They were no longer ground breaking, but the musicianship was at a very high level. Ethan learned this from the singing of Keith Waddell. Keith is a very fine singer and a killer guitar player. The second verse came from him, Monroe did not record it. I love Frank's guitar solo and fills on this track. The song suits Ethan's singing and the dobro playing is consistently fine. Sav sings the tenor part.

Track 10. This song is a waltz written by Paul Overstreet. Ethan found it on The Seldom Scene's 15th Anniversary Celebration recording. It's the only waltz on the CD, but the performance is as good as the rest of the recording.

Track 11. Ethan heard his dad and Kevin Short sing this one. This tune was a rock and roll hit for the band Nazareth. It sounds beautiful and bluegrass to me.

Track 12. The CD ends as it began with a song that Ethan wrote. It's a blues. There'd be no bluegrass without blues. God bless Buck Graves for playing such bluesy dobro. I think that he might have been some of the inspiration for the very bluesy dobro part that Ethan plays. Ethan sings this one as he sings on the rest of the CD. Great. Frank's solo reaches out of the bluegrass idiom to bring some phrases in that fit perfectly.

What a wonderful CD
David Bromberg