Growing up in central North Carolina, Frank was something of a prodigy as a teenager on mandolin, though he is proficient on multiple instruments and as a singer. After college he moved to Nashville and worked for a time with Special Consensus and the Marty Raybon Band before settling in to his comfortable role as a first call fill-in for top touring acts. Over the years you may have seen him on stage with Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, Lonesome River Band, Earls of Leicester, or with one of his all-star side project groups, Mashville Brigade or The Likely Culprits. These day he goes out with Mountain Heart.
For a while he took his turn on the seven seas, signing on as an entertainer with a cruise line. Ashby was also one half of the brilliant comedy duo, The Darrell Brothers, whose demise has been greatly mourned.
During those years he has spent a good bit of time honing his songwriting craft, turning out a number of classics recorded by artists like Junior Sisk (The Story of the Day That I Died), Amanda Cook (Point of No Return), Dale Ann Bradley (Falling Down), or Lindley Creek (I Gotta Go), hits every one.
Now as a result of his many years in Nashville, Ashby is a friend to everyone in the bluegrass world, and a good many country folks as well. And he has called on many of them to assist in the production of a solo project for his new label.
He says that he is thankful for all the folks who turned out to support him in the studio.
“I could have never created this album without the help of lots of friends that I’ve been fortunate enough to work with over the last several decades. The final product is an eclectic collection of the kind of music that I have enjoyed writing, arranging, and performing for the last twenty-three years on the road and in the studio. I am so excited to be releasing this album with the team at Mountain Home Records. I genuinely feel at home on Mountain Home, because I know they see the vision I have for the music I want to share with the world. The hardest step in any career path is often the first step, and I know that this is the first of many steps on a wonderful new journey. I am so very proud of this album, and so extremely grateful for everyone that helped me get here.”
Mountain Home has a new single this week to celebrate the signing, a Peter Rowan song from 1991 called Midnight Highway.
For Ashby, recutting this one was like a trip down memory lane.
“I thought it was fitting for the first single from the first solo album that I’ve recorded since I was a teenager to be a song that I grew up listening to and have always loved. The first time I heard Peter Rowan’s original version of Midnight Highway was when I was around 15 years old. I was somewhere in North Carolina with my buddy Jim VanCleve in his old Honda Civic, going to a fiddler’s convention or picking party, and the song has stuck with me ever since then. Having Jim on this track so many years later makes it even more special for me. I hope we did it justice!’
Also playing on the track are Seth Taylor on guitar, Matt Menefee on banjo, Gaven Largent on reso-guitar, Travis Anderson on bass, and Josh Hunt on drums. Frank sings lead and plays mandolin, with John Cowan providing harmony vocals.
Check it out…
Midnight Highway will be available on May 27 from popular download and streaming sites online. Pre-saves are enabled now.
Radio programmers will find the track at AirPlay Direct.