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Meet the Band

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Wally Hughes

James Field

Lisa Kay Howard-Hughes

Ed Lick

Joe Hannabach

Wally Bio
Wally Hughes


As a singer, Wally Hughes takes a bluegrass tune and makes it his own. But he’s also a formidable fiddle, dobro, and guitar player.  So it’s no wonder he’s in high demand, performing with East of Monroe and Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike.  Wally’s musical journey began when he was 11, playing dobro with the Hughes Family band.  The decades following took him across the US and Europe, and saw him performing with such greats as Mike Auldridge, Bill Emerson, and Mike Munford.  Wally lives in Northern Virginia.

Lisa Kay Howard
Lisa Bio



Lisa Kay Howard-Hughes’s voice is a favorite of her fans -- whether it’s singing a sweet bluegrass ballad or DJ’ing her own radio show.  Lisa Kay started singing and playing mandolin in central Virginia in the late '80s with her family band, Crooked Run. Later she founded the DC-based group Badly Bent, and in 2007, she began fronting The Lisa Kay Band. She has been a bluegrass disc jockey and show emcee since 1993. After nearly 20 years hosting her radio show on WAMU's Bluegrass Country, she now hosts The Old Home Place on internet station Bell Buckle Radio. Lisa Kay also performs with East of Monroe and Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike.

James Field
James Bio



James Field is the senior member of Level Best, but don’t tell him that.  His career singing and playing guitar began with the New York City Ramblers, along with a young David Grisman.  A New Englander, he then joined Boston’s Charles River Valley Boys, with whom he recorded the breakthrough album Beatle Country for Elektra.  A string of country, Irish, and bluegrass bands on both sides of the Atlantic followed, including Blue Railroad Train, a French band that made three tours of the USA, and the international group, Field & Thompson.  James lives in Rhode Island.

Joe Hannabach
Joe's Bio


The bass is the most important instrument in any bluegrass band, and Joe Hannabach has played with some of the best bands around, including Lou Reid and Carolina and the great Terry Baucom and his Dukes of Drive.  Joe was born in Philadelphia but began playing bluegrass as a kid in a family band in the Ozarks of Arkansas. Today, he lives in north central North Carolina, “where the banjo players grow on trees”.


When Ed Lick was 13 years old, he heard “Dueling Banjos”, and the die was cast. Within a few years, he had mastered the 5-string and then added the pedal steel and mandolin to his arsenal. During the 1980’s, Ed played steel with the New Jersey country band High Noon, opening for Kathy Mattea, Eddie Rabbit, and Charlie Daniels, among others. But the banjo was calling him back to bluegrass, where Ed went all over the U.S. and the world, playing with the bands Skookil Express, Blue Roots, Jersey Grass, and Hickory Project. Ed is from Green Lane, Pennsylvania.

Eds Bio

Level Best Alumni

Mary Burdette


On our Spring 2023 Europe tour, we were delighted to have the Bass playing talents of Mary Burdette. Mary is originally from the East Coast but now lives in Bellingham, Washington. She is an experienced bass player and has toured Europe in the past with Skip Gorman. Mary also helps to manage and organize the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival in New York State and the Wintergrass Bluegrass Festival in Washington State.

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The Baltimore-Washington area has spawned many outstanding bluegrass musicians, and in the front ranks is Terry Wittenberg,  whose talents can be heard on our first two albums.  Terry’s been “driving the five” for four decades and lent his banjo and vocal skills to the bands None of the Above, Southgate, Overland Express, the Annapolis Bluegrass Coalition and Windy Ridge.  Besides Level Best, Terry appears with East of Monroe and the Haywire Band. 

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