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Shenandoah - Journeys
By: Cheryl Harvey Hill, Sr. Staff Journalist

For Mike McGuire Interview Click Here.

Good news for all of you true blue lovers of splendid vocal harmonies; just in time for the new year, the marvelous band that brought you a baker's dozen  of number one hits (thirteen), amassed three gold albums, numerous CMA and ACM awards, and a few Grammy's over the course of their career, is back with a new album fittingly titled Journeys.

ďItís the music that really matters to us, and itís always been the music thatís made the difference,Ē says Shenandoah drummer and co-founder Mike McGuire. When McGuire and guitarist Jim Seales started a band in Muscle Shoals, Alabama in 1984, they never dreamed their dedication to great music would lead them down such a long and illustrious road; their journey produced numerous memorable number one hits; among my favorites are "Two Dozen Roses," "Next to You, Next to Me," and "I Want to be Loved Like That".

Although the band has experienced some band member changes on their Journeys, the one thing that remained consistent has been the quality of their music. On this project, the band wrote seven of the ten songs but the entire album is excellent. One of the tracks that stood out for me was "Mr. One Man Band." The vocal harmonies on the bridge were perfect and I loved the lyrics. We all get a yen to "go back" every now and again and I would imagine that, especially at this time of year when the holidays make us all a tad more nostalgic, trips down memory lane are a popular destination and good music is always a first-class way to travel through your cherished memories.

"Tied to a Tumbleweed" was another song that grabbed my attention and this song is certain to become an anthem for rodeo cowboys but the lyrics will fit a lot of folks who have never even seen a horse or worn a pair of Tony Lama's. "I'm kin to the wind / Tied to a tumbleweed / I didn't choose this life / this life chose me" are lines that fit a broad cross section of the world and anyone who is passionate about anything, will relate to this song.

There is much to like on this album and the song selection is a sweeping embrace across genres. To borrow from an old song, "Don't throw the past away, you might need it some rainy day, dreams can come true again, when everything old is new again!" Thankfully, that applies to great music and talented entertainers. This is one encore that is long over due and music fans are going to be glad to learn that Shenandoah is still adding to their Journeys.

Journeys song list:

1. Same Boat Now
2. Mr. One Man Band 
3. Running 'Cause I Can't Fly
4. Right 
5. Loving You Again
6. Hillbilly Hotel 
7. When You Were Mine 
8. Tied To A Tumbleweed
9. Joleena's Getting Married
10. Driving Me 

Related Links:
www.ShenandoahBand.com - Official Website

Shenandoah's Mike McGuire Interview
by Jim Weaver

Shenandoah is back with their 15th album in 19 years, titled Journeys, and drummer Mike McGuire joins us for this session.

JW: Speaking of being back, it's been what, 3 years since your last CD project; what has everyone been up to? Bring us up to date.

MM: Actually it's been 5 years. We had a CD called '2000' that we released in that year. As far as what we've been up to....we're still musicians, singers and songwriters and I guess we'll never get it out of our blood, so that's what we've been up to. We wrote 7 out of the 10 songs on this CD. 

We have other things that we do too. My brother and I own a radio jingle company down in Muscle Shoals, AL where the band started out. We bought a studio down here about a year ago and we produce about 200 jingles a year. This studio had a lot of hits cut in it back in the 'heyday' of Muscle Shoals. Hank Jr. recorded his first hits in this building; 'Whisky Bent and Hell Bound' and 'Family Tradition', Mac McAnally cut all his early stuff here, the Commodores, Roy Orbison....lots of folks. It's the old 'Wishbone' recording studio and it's really great to walk around where so much history was made.

JW: I haven't seen the liner notes on the new CD (Journeys) but I know you have written a lot of songs for this band over the years, do you have any on this new project?

MM: Yeah....I wrote 6 of 'em! Guess I'll make the most money huh? (He laughs
) I love songwriting. It's one of my most favorite things to do.

And regarding the CD....we're doing things a little different this time around. We're only gonna sell it at our website
www.shenandoahband.com. That may change down the road, but we're trying to make our website more central to our career. And something I'm excited about on it is a new feature we just started a few days ago. We have a page called the 'Shenandoah Diaries' which I expect will take us the next couple of years to write. It's gonna chronicle stories about our entire career....the good times and the bad, the smiles and the tears. We already have a lot written, but there's SO much more to share.

JW: It's a tough thing to do, but if you had to pick just one song on the new CD and say, "that's my favorite", which one would it be and why?

MM: Of the songs I wrote, I'd have to say 'Mr. One-Man Band'. I think it may be the best song I've ever written. Each chorus is a little different than the one previous to it. The way it weaves images of the 50's, 60's and 70's throughout it, I always thought was cool. 

I learned that trick from Bob McDill. With songs like 'Amanda', 'Everything That Glitters Is Not Gold' and 'Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On', he's one of my favorite songwriters. He kind'a took me 'under his wing' years ago after we wrote 'If Bubba Can Dance, I Can Too'. I had told him I considered myself a student of his writing. After showing him my notes on his songs, I think he was flattered that I thought enough of him to actually sit down and try to learn from him. And believe me...I've learned a
LOT ! And if it weren't for him, 'Mr. One-Man Band' would've never been written.

JW: Even though Marty Raybon is no longer with the band, that classic Shenandoah sound and harmony is still there and you guys sound as good as ever. Who is handling the lead vocals these days?

MM: Thank you for the compliment. I always sung most of the harmonies on our records, so that's probably why they still sound familiar. And of course Jim's guitar playing has ALWAYS been a big part of our sound, as well as Ralph's bass parts. We were lucky enough to start picking our own songs by the second album and I think showed everybody that we had an 'ear' for a hit. So I'm sure the style songs we tend to record has something to do with it too.

Curtis Wright is singing with us now. He wrote 'Next To You, Next To Me' and 'Rock My Baby' for us. That's how I met him years ago. I remember falling in love with his voice the first time they pitched us 'Next To You'. So I made arrangements to meet him and we became friends. We wrote a lot of songs together back then. AND he's sound a
LOT like Marty. After Marty left, Curtis was the logical choice for us.

He's written a lot of hits for other people too, like 'Too Much Fun' for Daryll Singletary, 'What's It To You' for Clay Walker, 'A Woman In Love' for Ronnie Milsap and lots of others. He is also an in-demand background singer on other peoples records. He sung backgrounds on almost all of Tim McGraw's records, up till the last couple. He's all over Reba McIntyre's last two CD's and a whole bunch of other people's as well.

JW: When you look back over 19 years can you pinpoint the most exciting time in your career? Or the single biggest moment?

MM: Hmmmm. That's a tough one! I don't know if I can narrow it down to just one. Is it ok if I give you a few? The day we found out 'Church On Cumberland Road' had gone to #1 was HUGE! We couldn't believe it. Playing the 'Grand Ole Opry' the first time was awesome. Our parents were all there and they were SO proud of us. Here's one for ya...the day we got a bus! That might actually be the most exciting thing for us. We had just done 2 years of shows in a van pulling a trailer around behind us. And in each of those 2 years, we did over 300 shows and even had the van catch on fire underneath us while we were going down the interstate. We almost didn't make it out. So to be able to actually get on our own bus after all that, was...well....words can't describe it.

JW: How about the lowest point?

MM: That's easy...when they took Robert Byrne away from us as a record producer. We always felt like he was a sixth member of our band. He's the one that 'discovered' us and the one responsible for so many of the classic songs people know us for. Sadly, Robert passed away a few months ago. We all miss him terribly!

JW: Shenandoah has been with the big record companies and now you're doing your own thing, so you have to be encouraged by the success of Indie label artists over the last couple of years. What do you think the big change is that has the major labels losing some of their control over the industry?

MM: I'm extremely excited that independents are doing so good. The artist has a LOT more control over what he wants to sing. How can you truly be an 'artist' when someone else is telling you what to do. That would be like telling Norman Rockwell to make his paintings look more like Andy Warhol's, just because he was selling a lot more product to the public.

I think a lot of the reason major labels are losing control is that when it all comes down to it; they don't really care about their artists. An artist might as well be a can of tuna fish to them. We're just something to sell. I think the public is a whole lot smarter than labels give them credit for though. They know the difference in something 'mass produced' and something 'created'! And with the freedom independent labels give their artists, the public finally has something 'real' to choose from.

JW: What's down the road for Shenandoah in 2006?

MM: Well you never really know what's down that road. But that's what makes it exciting, don't ya think?! The adventure of the unknown...and we want to go find out what it is!

JW: The first single has been released to radio titled "Right", what a fun song! What has the response been so far from radio?

MM: We haven't' officially released it yet. We've only sent it to a select few stations to play. We're waiting until after the holidays to shoot the video and do a 'real' release. But I tell ya, they are making us have second thoughts. Seems like everybody is wanting us to release 'Same Boat Now', the first song on the CD. Guess we better get our minds made up, huh?

JW: Where do you see Shenandoah headed over the next 10 years?

MM: Well now that we have our own studio to record in, we're gonna be free to record whatever we feel like. I can't imagine not writing and recording. It has been one of the true loves of my life.

And can I add something else here? I just wanted to tell country music fans everywhere how MUCH we appreciate them allowing us to come into their lives over these past almost 20 years. We wouldn't be here today without them and we know it. So to all of you, I just want to say 'thank you' from the bottom of our hearts! What an awesome life you've given us! 

If y'all get a chance, come on by our website and pay us a visit
www.shenandoahband.com. We've got a lot going on over there and we'd love for you to become part of our 'Shenandoah Family'

Did you like this album? did you hate it? Submit a "Real People Review"
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Real People Reviews

I bought the new Journeys CD a couple weeks ago and there is not a bad song on it. My fave is all of them on the CD but if I have to pick one, it is "Running Cause I Cant' Fly". I rate it a 10+!
~ Lin Jones - Elm City, NC


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