Acoustic Music, Bluegrass Music, Saturday Soundtrack
Comments 3

Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen offer bluegrass food for the soul

As music festivals begin to return this summer, let’s take a Saturday Soundtrack look at one of the favorites of the bluegrass circuit: Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen.

About that band name. Solivan is a gourmet chef, and he often prepared meals for friends and — on occasion — for the fans who came to his shows. Thus the “dirty kitchen” moniker (although he makes the point that he always cooks in clean kitchens).

Solivan is from California and spent time in Alaska as the first chair violin in the University of Alaska orchestra. From there he joined the Navy’s service band, Country Current, where he played electric guitar in their country outfit and mandolin and fiddle in the bluegrass unit. After that gig, Solivan formed his current band, which has won numerous awards and world-wide acclaim.

Frank Solivan at Cedar Lane

Having heard this band live three or four times, I can attest to the fact that their instrumental chops are superb. Solivan handles the lead vocals, mandolin, and fiddle. IBMA 2013 Banjo Player of the year Mike Munford plays fluid, other-worldly melodies on the five-string. IBMA 2013 Momentum Award winner Chris Luquette holds down the guitar chair, moving between traditional flatpicking and jazzier stylings. Jeremy Middleton provides the foundation for the band on the bass.

To showcase those instrumental chops, we’ll begin with M80, a tune Munford named for a firecracker after he spent a July 4th night on the national mall. While there are live examples on YouTube, I like the original from the On the Edge album because of the stellar dobro work Rob Ickes brings to the tune.

On the Edge was the breakthrough album for the Dirty Kitchen band, and it was their first on Compass Records. The album begins with some classic bluegrass with I Fell Short (on Standing Tall). Check out the nice interplay halfway through between Solivan and Munford.

But that classic bluegrass sound soon takes a diversion into 1960s rock…with the Box Tops!

If the Box Tops don’t rock you, how about some Roy Orbison…with a little Day Tripper thrown in for good measure. Munford’s break on Pretty Woman, from the Family, Friends, and Heroes album, is a gem.

The follow-up album to On the Edge was Cold Spell, which includes the tongue twister She Said She Will. It features great breaks by Luquette and Munford.

In a nice juxtaposition of desires, the music video for Crave, the first tune from 2019’s If You Can’t Stand the Heat, was filmed amidst the beautiful instruments of Carter Vintage Guitars in Nashville. Yes, so many gorgeous instruments…so little money.

Frank Solivan and Chris Luquette

And if you think The Letter was a one-off, well…you clearly haven’t heard the bluegrass version of Whipping Post!

(Yes, yes…I know that you can’t do Whipping Post better than the Allman Brothers Band…whether with Duane and Dickey or Derek and Warren. So don’t troll me. The solo by Derek Trucks is insane!)

Let’s end this Soundtrack where we began, with a great Mike Munford instrumental, Line Drive.

Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen are playing in the Maryland area (and around the country) this summer, so catch them — or your favorite band — and enjoy some live music!

More to come…


Images of Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen by DJB


I am David J. Brown (hence the DJB) and I originally created this personal blog more than ten years ago as a way to capture photos and memories from a family vacation. After the trip was over I simply continued writing. Over the years the blog has changed to have a more definite focus aligned with my interest in places that matter, reading well, roots music, and more. My professional background is as a national nonprofit leader with a four-decade record of growing and strengthening organizations at local, state, and national levels. This work has been driven by my passion for connecting people in thriving, sustainable, and vibrant communities.


  1. Pingback: Saturday Soundtrack: Festival favorites | More to Come...

  2. Pingback: Sharing the covers | More to Come...

  3. Pingback: Our little universe | More to Come...

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.