"I am 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.

Hotshot South Australian guitarist and singer-songwriter Jedd Hughes made an important decision as a teenager - to attend the South Plains College in the Texas Panhandle.

The Levelland uni near Lubbock offered a bluegrass music course - a subject never likely to be fashionable in the hits and memories mausoleums of his homeland.

"I had serious singing lessons for the first time in my life," latter day Nashville resident Hughes revealed on the release of his debut disc Transcontinental (MCA).

"I learned confidence in my playing and singing and more confidence as human being."

Now, the singer is reaping the riches of following in the slipstream of expatriates Keith Urban, Kym Warner and Carol Young and their Austin band Greencards.

As a producer Warner, also a South Australian refugee, hired him to play guitar on Mabelle - the second album by Henrietta born Austin singer Ben Atkins.

That acclaimed Hightone disc also features Young on harmonies.

It was in Texas that Hughes met prolific hit songwriter Terry McBride of McBride & The Ride - the duo wrote over 80 songs between April 2002 and March 2003.

Other major acts cut some of their compositions but they retained 20 tunes for Jedd's album.

Ten songs with other writers diverse as Texan troubadour and one time Aussie tourist Bruce Robison, Billy Burnette, Josh Leo, Jennifer Kimball and Tommy Lee James survived the cull.

And it was no surprise the other coalminer's daughter Patty Loveless harmonised on the metaphoric gem Soldier For The Lonely.


Just six weeks after departing Texas for Tennessee the singer successfully auditioned for the acoustic guitar role in Loveless's band for the Down From The Mountain tour.

Such hot picking didn't go unnoticed - it attracted the attention of Alison Krauss & Union Station members Dan Tyminski and Ron Block who added their vocals to original songs The Only Girl In Town, High Lonesome and not so cryptic Snake In The Grass.

Hughes blends traditional bluegrass with eclectic roots country - a sweet staple of Americana stations that are an alternative to the mainstream.

Patty Loveless

It's a far cry from his first overseas gig at the age of 12 to represent Australia at a three week International Music Festivals in Europe.

But, like Urban, it's his musicianship that enabled him to play guitar and lap steel on his debut disc and maybe soar as fast as the expatriate Australasian whose fifth album Be Here is due out this month.

Special guests include pedal steel guitarists Dan Dugmore and Russ Pahl, also on banjo, and bassist McBride.

Hughes was born at Quorn - a small town north of Adelaide - and is in no danger of forgetting his roots.


Jedd dedicates this album to the late Australian guitarist Barry Thornton who toiled in the outback and studio with Slim Dusty.

Hughes father weaned him on the music of Slim and American icons Johnny Cash and Marty Robbins.

When he wasn't listening to music at home, much of his childhood was spent onstage. At the age of eight he won first place at the Port Pirie Country Music Festival.
< Jedd Hughes

One year later, his dad gave him a few guitar lessons, and by age 10, he was playing a custom-made acoustic guitar.

At 12, he represented Australia on a three-week tour of Europe, performing at the International Music for Youth festivals held in France, Belgium and Sweden.

His early teens involved practicing guitar for hours and waiting for his voice to change.

One night, he heard the Ricky Skaggs song Country Boy on the radio and was hooked on Skaggs' rapid-fire blend of country and bluegrass.

Warner, a bluegrass mandolin champion, introduced Hughes to some of the greats of bluegrass music.

He heard the sounds of Tony Rice, Del McCoury and Ralph Stanley and was taken with the music's purity.

Hughes was also drawn to country legends like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard and
travelled throughout his teenage years as a sideman with various country entertainers.


Hughes consummated his high school dreams to fly the coop and attend the bluegrass course at South Plains College in Levelland near Lubbock.

Terry McBride discovered Hughes while conducting a workshop at the college and the rest is history.

Jedd returned to Texas in June with Vince Gill, Dan Tyminski and Marty Stuart to perform at the Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival in Dallas.

He played a solo acoustic set at Friday night's VIP reception before joining Stuart for a Sunday afternoon appearance with legendary guitarist James Burton at the three day festival at the Cotton Bowl.

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