Why You Should Care: Since his arrival in Nashville in the early part of the century, Ashby Frank has served in a stunning variety of settings, ranging from the Special Consensus, the Marty Raybon Band, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, the Mashville Brigade and the Earls of Leicester to John Cowan’s HercuLeons, the Likely Culprits and his current main gig, Mountain Heart. He’s scored as a songwriter, too, penning songs for Junior Sisk, Amanda Cook, Dale Ann Bradley, Lindley Creek and more, and even taken on the world of comedy as a member of the Darrell Brothers. Yet even as he continues to burnish his reputation as one of Music City’s most valuable collaborators, Frank is taking the next step forward and releasing music himself.
Hot on the heels of his well-received Mountain Home Music Company debut single, “Midnight Highway,” Ashby Frank is back with “Jump On It,” three and a half minutes of funk and fun — not to mention a mastery of country music “deep catalog.”
First recorded a quarter of a century ago as a track on country legend John Anderson’s last Top 20 album, “Jump On It” finds mandolinist Frank backed by a group that features Mountain Heart bandmates Seth Taylor (guitar), Travis Anderson (bass) and Josh Shilling (keyboards), along with IBMA award winners Deanie Richardson (fiddle) and Scott Vestal (banjo), and a trio of backup singers that includes blue-eyed soulsters Bekka Bramlett and John Cowan and, deep-voiced bluegrasser Dale Perry. From the slinky, syncopated lick that bookends the track to the simmering groove in between, Frank and his all-star friends perfectly capture the song’s sly, countrified humor as it unreels a quirky story:
Granny's on the front porch spittin' in a cup, tryin' to fix a nightgown that the dog tore up
Mama's old clothesline finally bit the dust, so Brother got a broomstick and propped it back up
Well we could've had a dryer or a sewing machine, but Daddy went and bought us a trampoline
And we jump on it every chance we get, Mama and Daddy and all us kids
We ain't got much but we got this, and we jump on it
To those who have followed Frank’s career, the single will come as no surprise, for comedy, and especially country-flavored comedy, has been a persistent thread all along, including the intermittent appearance of his alter ego in comedy duo, The Darrell Brothers. Yet beneath its humorously funky vibe, “Jump On It” actually has a bit of good advice to offer:
Daddy says life is such a crazy mess
You gotta jump on your chances for some happiness
And that, too, is emblematic of Frank’s multi-layered approach to his music.
“I have been a fan of this Pat and Pamela Terry composition since I heard it when I was a teenager,” recalls Frank. “We started adding into our shows with The Likely Culprits a few years ago, and it always went over well with our audiences — but it got an especially raucous response from the crowd when we were out on tour opening for Jamey Johnson a few years ago.
“So when I started this project, I knew that I wanted to record it, and I had some ideas in my head about how to make the music fit the vibe of the lyrics. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that it would turn out like it did, but with the help of my co-producer, Brandon Bostic; so many amazing musicians; and the backing voices of some of my friends who also happen to be legends in their own fields, I think we got a cut that is very special. I am so proud of this track!”
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