DIARY - 20 JANUARY 2005 - JEDD HUGHES
HUGHES ON SUPER HIGHWAY
FROM QUORN TO LEVELLAND VIA TAMWORTH
a soldier, trained and conditioned/ served my time but I didn't lose this
mission/ fighting a war, think I'm the only soldier for the lonely."
- Soldier For The Lonely - Jedd Hughes-Terry McBride-Jennifer Kimball.
18 expatriate Australian child prodigy Jedd Hughes took the plunge
to flee for greener bluegrass pastures in the U.S.
The hotshot guitarist had won his first talent quest at eight and
represented Australia at 12 in the Music For Youth Festival in France,
Belgium and Sweden.
Now at 22 he has blazed a trail that landed him a solo album deal
with major Nashville label Mercury.
made a whirlwind tour of Tamworth after having Christmas with his
parents in Mildura.
winning best new talent Golden Guitar at the 33rd Australian Country Music
Awards he has returned to Nashville to tour to promote the acclaimed Transcontinental
Hughes told Nu Country his graphic story in 20 short fact filled minutes
on the phone from Tamworth.
Jedd has vivid memories of leaving Quorn - a tiny town north of Adelaide
- where he was raised.
"My last memory was a road between Port Augusta and Quorn,"
"It was a pretty drive. We lived on a small farm, about 100 acres
with sheep, crops and goats. I went to the Quorn Area School till I was
15 and went to Tamworth when my parents moved. I went to Country Music
College at 15 while at Oxley High School. I was doing legal studies, maths,
music, English and woodwork. But I never finished Year 12."
Instead Hughes, just 17, headed to the bush.
"I went on the road with Tania Kernaghan for eight months then worked
with my dad for a few months fencing to pay my fare to Texas," Hughes
"I needed to save money. I also went on the road in the band for
Young Stars Of Country - Adam Harvey and Beccy Cole. Then I met Kym Warner
and decided to follow him to Texas."
Kym - son of South Australian bluegrass ace Trev - and former Dorrigo
and Coffs Harbour chanteuse Carol Young formed the Greencards in Austin
with fellow import - the English fiddler Eamon McLoughlin.
Greencards cut their debut disc in Austin where they lived until they
moved to Nashville recently.
had played most of the places you could play in Australia and knew
I could learn a lot more from the South Plains College at Levelland
in West Texas about writing and playing bluegrass," Hughes
"I had just turned 18. I started on a two-year associate degree
but I only did three semesters. There were about15-20 in the class.
I also had one-on-one tutorials. A friend Matt Jenkins, now on Universal
South Records was also in the course."
Horizon winner and chart topper Joe Nichols volunteered to produce
Jenkins, 20, who hails from Aledo in Texas.
hooked up with those famed Panhandle lecturers, musicians and radio veterans
Joe Carr and Alan Munde.
"I had private lessons with Joe Carr and Alan Munde," Jedd added.
"I had mandolin lessons with Joe and guitar lessons with Alan. I
also took the history of bluegrass course with Alan. Kerry Banks plays
with the Maines Brothers and was head of the faculty. I saw the Maines
Brothers play in Lubbock. Lloyd plays with them when he is in home."
But it wasn't Lloyd - prolific producer and sire of Dixie Chicks singer
Natalie - who discovered Hughes.
It was Terry McBride, 46 and son of the late Texan singer Dale who has
made five albums with McBride & The Ride - formed in 1989 and recently
reincarnated with new album Amarillo Sky on Dualtone.
"Terry spent some time living in Lubbock and did a workshop at South
Plains," Jedd added.
"We did Thursday Night Live on cable TV. I did Buddy Miller song
I Don't Mean Maybe. We became mates right off the bat. I was ready to
move on. I was itching to move on."
McBride & The Ride
about 80 songs with McBride who produced his debut disc Transcontinental.
Ten of the 11 songs on the disc were co-writes with McBride. The duo also
wrote Brass Bed - a tune cut by another hot new Nashville artist
an ex-marine from Westland, Michigan, landed a major record deal
with Lyric Street after being on American Idol.
His self-titled debut disc was a major success with 260,000 sales
after the hit singles I Want To Live and Nothing To Lose.
"I have pitched stuff to quite a few others, quite a few things
to Patty Loveless for her next record and to the Greencards who
are living in my house in Nashville," says Hughes.
I lived with them when I was in Sydney when I was touring with Tania.
So it's back to three of us. Kym produced Ben Atkins second album Mabelle
for Hightone in Austin and asked me to play guitar on it. It was the only
album I played on in Austin."
That was shortly before Hughes headed east to Guitar Town.
moved to Nashville and a week later Terry heard Patty Loveless was holding
auditions for a guitarist," Jedd said.
went out and bought every Patty album I could find and learned all
her songs note for note. I went into the audition and shook the
whole time. Her producer and husband Emory Gordy was sitting in
the corner. He was a hero of mine from the Here Today album. It
was terrifying. I couldn't get it together. My voice shook, my hands
shook but I knew every song they threw at me, note for note. I waited
an hour for their decision. They called me and said we're rehearsing,
come over. I was just part of the band but some nights we would
do a duet of Porter and Dolly song Someone I Used To Know that Patty
recorded with Travis Tritt. I was still on road with Patty when
I got my deal."
and McBride pitched demos of their originals to three major labels.
cut some demos and took them to David Conrad at MCA," Hughes revealed.
"I had three meetings with major labels. At one meeting with a label
there was absolutely no response. I thought are we barking up the wrong
tree. But David liked it right off the bat and we got the deal and made
MILDURA SNAKE IN THE GRASS
rattle, fear that hiss/ beware of the Judas kiss/ watch your step, cover
your back/ can't trust a snake in the grass." - Snake In The Grass
- Jedd Hughes-Terry McBride-Jennifer Kimball.
included McBride, Tommy Lee James, Josh Leo, Jennifer Kimball, Al Anderson,
Billy Burnette and Bruce Robison.
McBride and Kimball were Hughes co-writers on Snake In The Grass
and Soldier For The Lonely.
Loveless and Alison Krauss added harmonies to Soldier for the Lonely
and The Only Girl in Town.
Jedd revealed sources of three of the best songs on the album.
"Snake In The Grass was the second song we wrote," Jedd said.
"Every Christmas I come home to my family. I was working with my
dad making concrete for fences. You just reminded me. I had a dream about
snakes last night. Anyway while working with dad I heard a snake in the
grass hissing. I went to my dad's ute and wrote it down and took it to
Nashville. It was in Mildura where my folks moved the year I went to the
Soldier For The Lonely while I was sitting on Patty's bus,"
"I was listening to Rodney Crowell doing a sound check. I was kind
of feeling pretty far away.
It's not a love song, more about dealing with loneliness and depression
and coming to terms with dealing with those things on your own. I finished
it with them in Nashville."
That theme recurred in High Lonesome penned with McBride and Billy
Burnette from the famed Memphis clan who made a solo disc before joining
Fleetwood Mac and Dylan.
"I wrote High Lonesome with Terry and Billy Burnette who had
just come off the Bob Dylan tour in Australia," Hughes added. "He's
a really cool guy. He has got huge hair like Marty Stuart. For the new
album I'm writing solo mainly."
like fellow expatriate Catherine Britt, has hooked up with acclaimed Texan
troubadour and hit writer Guy Clark who has toured here twice.
"I wrote with Guy Clark for the last project but I'm hoping to have
a Hughes Clark song on this album," Hughes explained.
"When you write with Guy he likes to take a break - for a couple
of weeks - a couple of months and come back to it. We wrote Outback
Boy about me moving from Australia to Texas. The first thing I see
is a guy with a machine gun at the airport - yes, Dallas-Fort Worth. It's
quite tongue in cheek, Americans poking fun at Americans."
also hired a Brisbane drummer for his touring band last year.
"I met Mick McCartin when he was playing with Lynn Bowtell,"
"I called him and said come to America, spend some time on the
road. He has now come back to Australia."
Although the drummer has returned many more Australians are heading
to the U.S. to follow Keith Urban, Sherrie Austin, Jamie O'Neal, Britt,
Greencards, Audrey Auld and Hughes.
are so many young Australiana taking the plunge in the U.S.," Jedd
added as our 20 minutes ticked over.
main thing about America for me is the bluegrass," Jedd said.
"I also wanted to go to Nashville because that's where a lot of the
best songwriters are. I wanted to learn from them, writing with Guy was
a prime example. Touring in America there's no comparison, the population
in America so much larger. You can tour the college circuit and really
build a young audience that is into the music. Australian audiences are
great but they're so much older. They don't hear the music on commercial
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