Frank Solivan in the studio

Frank Solivan and Del McCoury in the studioFrank Solivan was back in the studio last week, but not for a new album with his hot band, Dirty Kitchen. He was in Nashville recording with family and friends for a new solo project on Compass Records.

He carried some tracks that had been cut with the band, to add vocals and instruments from some pickers he couldn’t get back home in DC, and to cut some new ones with Nashville bluegrass stars like Del McCoury, Sam Bush, Shawn Camp, Jerry Douglas, and Rob Ickes.

The inspiration for this project is Frank’s mom, who passed away last year. He remembers her as a great vocalist, and a huge influence on his own singing. And as we do when we lose someone very close, Frank has been reminiscing about the part music and singing played in his childhood.

Franks Solivan with Ronnie McCoury and his dad, Frank Solivan Sr.The Solivans were musicians and entertainers going back generations, and it was so much a part of his life as a youngster that he moved to Alaska from his family home in California as soon as he graduated from high school to perform with Ginger Boatwright. It seemed as natural a step for Frank as getting a job in the family business.

For this new album, tentatively called Family, Friends and Heroes, Frank has assembled some of his favorite pickers and singers, along with his Dad and a handful of cousins, to record music he recalls from his youth. He says that his Mom was there in sprit as well, as the songs he chose consist of ones he remembers her singing.

In Nashville last week he cut a version of Wayfaring Stranger, which was a favorite of hers, and Put Me In Your Pocket, a WWII number that Frank sang to her as she was dying. But he says there’s nothing doleful about the album.

Jerry Douglas and Frank Solivan“It’s a humble record that we’re all gonna have fun with. I wanted to capture an honest music vibe – like sitting around in the living room, the way I grew up.

You might hear a mistake or two here and there, but whatever. The magic is there, and it’s real music.”

To keep things light, most of the tracks were captured live, with minimal overdubs. Solivan said there are a few that he sang over and over until he felt good about the track, but he did try to avoid it overall.

Like on a live, two mandolin version of Dark Hollow with Sam Bush.

Or on a live cut of a song his cousin (Megan McCormick) wrote.

“I went in with Jim Hurst and Mike Bub. We ran over the song a few times and recorded it. What you’ll hear is what we cut.”

Frank wasn’t ready to suggest a release date yet, but said that we can look for the new CD later this year on Compass.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.