Chuck Hughes is known for his 18 year association with Hillbilly Hellcats as founding member, guitarist, vocalist, and composer of 75% of the Hillbilly Hellcats songs.
In addition he plays the Chapman Stick, and was one of it's earliest adopters.
With Hillbilly Hellcats Chuck has toured most of the continental U.S. as well as Alaska and Hawaii. He has also toured 13 European countries.
Born in St. Louis, Mo., he later spent time in Baltimore, Md., South Bend, In., Denver, Co., and Hollywood, Ca. He studied guitar with Bruce Casteel, Bill Fowler, Howard Roberts, Dale Bruning, Bill Frisell, Sid Jacobs, and Al Bonhomme.
He got his first guitar at 13, an Airline version of a one pickup Harmony BobKat, and got a 5 watt Kent amp from Music Land at the Westview mall outside Baltimore.
He played his first gig at 14, when a band practice was interrupted by a phone call asking the band to come down to a coffee house to fill in for a band that had cancelled. This first band was the Sonics (not the pacific northwest sonics), and featured Chuck, along with Joe Drane on guitar, Darryll Leibig on bass, and Robert Zylka on Drums.
Chuck went on to play with high school garage bands, then attended University of Maryland, College Park, for two years. By that time he was listening to B.B. King, Charlie Christian, Django, Albert King, Big Bill Broonzy, The Bluesbreakers , Paul Butterfield, the Electric Flag, Buddy Guy, and the whole blues movement that was strong in the late 60's. After two years in college as a declared Philosophy major, Chuck left to join friends in South Bend, Indiana, including Mark Evanko on bass, Paul Gelpi on guitar, and Mike O'Connell on drums, forming a band called Simply Put. Their first gig was a two week stint at Brenner's show bar in South Bend, for the sum of $685 total. During this time the band met keyboardist Eddie Sears, who would play albums from John Coltrane for them, and draw the circle of 5ths on a blackboard, explaining that it was the key to music. About this time the Mahavishnu Orchestra formed, and the Inner Mounting Flame album played daily on the turntable in the living room.
Following the dissolution of Simply Put, chuck moved to Denver, and almost immediately began studying with Bill Frisell, who lived at the Rob Roy apartments at 11th and Washington, a block from Chuck's efficiency at 1234 Washington. Bill showed Chuck harmonized scales, real book tunes, scale positions, and suggested he listen to Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Ornette Coleman, and Jim Hall.
To be continued...