Timing and patience paid off big recently for Davidson County native Ashby Frank when a song he wrote 13 years ago reached No. 1 on the most recently released Bluegrass Unlimited monthly music chart.
He just had to wait for the right singer to record the song and release it at the right time. That all came together when five-time Female Bluegrass Vocalist of the Year Dale Ann Bradley heard the song “Falling Down” 10 years ago when she sang back up on another musician’s recording of it and finally decided to record it herself.
Bradley released it as a single in Oct. 2020, where it went to No. 1 on the Roots Music Radio Report chart and No. 2 on Bluegrass Today’s chart. The song gained new momentum in 2021 after Bradley released in January her album, “Things She Couldn’t Get Over,” on which “Falling Down” is included.
“It was nice to have this silver lining to an otherwise crappy year,” Frank said, referring to the music industry’s shutdown brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The song’s topic of anxiety and dealing with stress obviously hit home with listeners struggling during the uncertainty of the pandemic, sending it to the No. 1 spot on the Bluegrass Unlimited chart.
“That’s the chart I grew up watching,” said Frank, who is the son of Davidson County District attorney Garry Frank and music teacher Lynn Frank. “We’d get the magazine each month and you would turn to see what songs were on the chart. It’s big for me.”
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The pandemic and the stress and uncertainty it has caused for many is likely why the song has stuck around on various Bluegrass music charts for months, he added. It has been one of the top five songs on various music charts since November. In fact, it’s been on the Bluegrass Unlimited chart for seven months and was the No. 2 song in June.
Frank said the idea for the song came to him on a trip back to Nashville after playing at the former Memphis Pyramid. This is the fourth song Frank has written that went to No. 1 on a Bluegrass music chart
Frank’s bluegrass musician friend, Will Southern of Surry County, first recorded “Falling Down” as a college project at Belmont Abbey about 10 years ago. Bradley actually sang backup on his recording and called Frank right after the session.
“She said,’Man, I’m crying. I love that song. I want to record it,'” Frank recalled.
Over the years Frank, an accomplished mandolin player and songwriter, and Bradley’s paths would cross at different performance venues and she would always mention the song and reminding him she wanted to record it herself. But after nearly a decade passed, Frank wondered if that would ever happen.
Another thrill for Frank was recently learning “Falling Down” made the second ballot for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Song of the Year Award. The final ballot is not complete yet, but the awards ceremony will take place this year in Frank’s home state in Raleigh. He moved to Nashville from his Tyro community home in 2004 and has been playing across the world since.
COVID-19 threw him for a loop, he said, when every concert, festival and gig was canceled for over a year.
“Just last week was the first time in over a year I have had a full week of work,” he said.
That time away from traveling the roads and skylines did give him a chance to concentrate on recording an album of 13 songs. He wrote about half the songs on the disc that will be released in October. There is no working title yet. He did not write any songs during the COVID-19 break from performing, however.
“I felt like I lacked inspiration then,” he said. “But i did have time to do this albulm.
– Jill Doss-Raines is The Dispatch trending topics and personality profiles senior reporter and is always looking for tips about businesses and entertainment events, secret and new menu items, and interesting people in Davidson County. Contact me at email@example.com and subscribe to us at the-dispatch.com.