Legendary country group Shenandoah is celebrating its 35th anniversary as a band, which includes a stellar catalog of hits including “The Church on Cumberland Road,” “Sunday in the South,” “Two Dozen Roses,” “Next to You, Next to Me,” and many more.
During an interview with Music Mayhem, lead singer Marty Raybon and fellow Shenandoah band member Mike McGuire shared memories from their early years on the road, including a set of pranks that started with Randy Travis and his crew.
In 1990, Shenandoah was on tour with Randy Travis and one of the last stops of the tour was in Columbia, Missouri. They had just released “Ghost in this House,” the second single from their album, Extra Mile. The song was climbing the country music charts at the time, so Raybon was ecstatic to hear the roar of the crowd while he sang it.
“It just seemed like, man, people are really digging it!” Raybon said.
McGuire shared what was really happening on stage and how they returned the favor.
“What he didn’t know was that the whole band was dressed up as ghosts and all kind of characters behind Marty, just dancing… and the crowd was laughing ’cause Marty didn’t know what was going on… But at the last show, we got ’em back,” Raybon shared. “We got their bus driver to let us on the bus. I don’t know if you know what Catfish Charlie is, but they call it stink bait for catfish when you go fishing and it smells really, really horrible. We took some air fresheners, took the air freshener out and put Catfish Charlie in it, and stuck them all over everybody’s bunks, in the front lounge and stuff. We still hear about it to this day when we run into those guys.”
Shenandoah just launched their 35th Anniversary Tour on February 11, which runs through October 15. At one point, they weren’t sure if audiences would know their hits, but they’ve been amazed by what they’ve been seeing online.
“I can’t tell you how many kids in their college age, and even younger on there [social media], doing ‘Two Dozen Roses.’ I see it everywhere. “We used to think, man, we go to some of these towns thinking we’re too old, that our hits came up probably before you were even born. It’s amazing, the power of music, you know? So you think people have never heard your stuff and then you see all these videos of the biggest hit we ever had.”
Shenandoah’s latest studio album, Every Road, features collaborations with superstars Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Zac Brown, Ashley McBryde, Lady A, Brad Paisley, Cody Johnson and Carly Pearce.
The band hadn’t recorded a full studio album in 26 years, so they decided to enlist the help of fellow artists to help invigorate the project. The first artist on board was Brad Paisley. Shenandoah had participated in a benefit event with Paisley’s wife, Kimberly, and he jumped at the chance to collaborate with them.
Even though they were excited about bringing in other artists for the new album, they were worried about how it would all come together.
“This is gonna be like pulling teeth,” feared Marty. “Everybody’s got their own career thing going. ‘I’d like to do that, but that’s gonna interfere with what I’ve got going on.’ But we didn’t find any of that.”
As the band would run into other artists on the road or at industry events, they’d extend an offer to participate on their new album. Artists were thrilled at the chance to do a record with Shenandoah.
“We were up at the Hodag Festival in Wisconsin and with Lady A and when we ended the show, we turned around and Charles [Kelley], all of them, the road guys, the lighting guys, the tech guy, the whole Lady A entourage, was on the back of the stage watching the show,” Raybon shared. “Then Charles said, ‘Will you take a picture with my boy?” I said, ‘Man, that’d be great.’ And then he said, ‘Man, what are y’all doing?'”
They told Kelley about the new album and he was eager to be part of it. “Charles said, “We’ve got a tune we’d love to send you.’ We thought it was killer, so that worked out great,” said Raybon.
The Country Music Association (CMA) Awards became ground zero for recruiting most of the artists on the album, including Blake Shelton.
“You know how during the commercials, everybody is up and milling around?” asked McGuire. “Marty got up and went over and told Blake, ‘Hey man, we’re doing this record and would love to have you.’ Blake said, ‘Send me a song!’ And that’s how we got a lot of those folks.”
Shenandoah released Every Road on November 13, 2020.
1. “I’d Take Another One of Those” (with Zac Brown Band)
2. “Make It Til Summertime” (with Luke Bryan)
3. “If Only” (with Ashley McBryde)
4. “Every Road” (with Dierks Bentley)
5. “Then a Girl Walks In” (with Blake Shelton)
6. “High Class Hillbillies” (with Cody Johnson)
7. “Every Time I Look at You” (with Lady A)
8. “Life Would Be Perfect” (with Brad Paisley)
9. “I’ll Be Your Everything” (with Carly Pearce)
10. “Boots on Broadway”
Fans can catch Shenandoah on their 35th Anniversary Tour now through October 15. For complete details, visit shenandoahband.com.