August 31, 2008 - Sunday
August 30/08 Shenandoah at Kenton national, Kenton, Ohio
Jimmy Yeary and the whole Shenandoah gang, met at the kroger parking lot at 1 am to head for Kenton, Ohio to play Kenton National. Jim Seales gal, Donna was aboard as well as Billy Ryan and drummer, Keeley lane and guitarist, Rod Riley.
We were a loaded bus as we sucked up those white lines on the highway, marking those miles off to Kenton. Everyone except Rod, Jim Seales and Donna stayed up till very early in the morning talking..telling road stories..listening to Billy Ryan's material and whatever.
This was to be Shenandoah's third year in a row to play Kenton National..which is a huge deal... a giant flea market in the woods..where thousands of folks flock to every year to sell and trade guns, knives, dogs...you name it. It's an all out party that goes on all day and night! It is a week long event and on the weekend they have a concert. This year they had bluegrass entertainment on Friday night, which included, Dr. Ralph Stanley & his Clinch Mountain Boys, Marty Raybon, Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road. Saturday night included, Billy Ryan, Marty Raybon, Shenandoah and Darryl Worley.
We got to the venue.. a huge field with a giant stage and P.A. rig, complete with two large video screens on either side and scrambled off the bus to grab some grub underneath a big tent behind the stage. They were cooking burgers, dogs and bratwurst and had other good stuff like potato salad, pasta salad, baked beans, fruit..on and on...good eatin'.
After eating lunch, we rambled to the stage and Marty Raybon, Shenandoah's original singer, walked up on the stage and hung out with us for a while. It was quite a nostalgic experience for all of of us ..Marty picked up an acoustic guitar and he and all the gang...Jim Seales on acoustic, Jimmy Yeary on acoustic, McGuire on 3rd above and the rest of us... sang old Shenandoah songs for at least 45 minutes..It was great.. Marty had not been on stage with Shenandoah since 1997..since his last show at The WildHorse Saloon in Nashville. Wow..both Shenandoah lead singers...past and present singing on the same stage..
Marty told a couple of old stories from back when.. one being the famous cheeze dip story.. when I put some cheeze dip in the microwave and then stepped in the bus restroom.. our road manager had lengthened the time it was heating.. when I exited the restroom.. I took the bowl out of the microwave and stuck a chip in the dip and promptly stuck that sucker in my mouth. Big mistake... it burned the roof off in my mouth and I made a sound that Marty said.. sounded like a train whistle..lol I know we were all thinking about Ralph Ezell and knowing he would have loved this reunion. We had known for a while that the promoters of the show had asked Marty to stay over from Friday night and sit in with Shenandoah for several songs on Sat. We knew it would be a special treat for the fans as well as for Marty and ourselves but it was historic and classic.. our time together.. on that stage before soundcheck and we thank Byron Cumbie for getting great video footage of that emotional moment in time.
Marty Raybon and his bluegrass band did a short set, and after that, Mike Folsom and myself only had about a half hour before we were to go on with Billy Ryan, along with super guitar picker, Rod Riley and kickin' drummer Keeley Lane.. so, I grabbed a quick bite for supper..a steak, and a salad..wanted to get something to eat..in case there was nothing after the show. As I have mentioned in earlier blogs, Billy frequently opens for Shenandoah and occasionally sits in with us and sings a song or two.
Billy Ryan hit the stage at around 5:30 and with Bart, Shenandoah's FOH man at the helm... we rocked em' pretty good for 35-40 minutes. The audience loved Billy and we all had fun backing him up. I thought we all played well.
Shenandoah went on around 7:30 and did a 75 min show and Jimmy moved the crowd to silence as he did, "You Never Know"..the song that he, Mike McGuire and Billy Ryan wrote after Ralph's passing. Jimmy always puts his heart and soul in the delivery of that song and it gets everyone..everytime. Towards the end of our set, Jimmy Yeary left the stage and Marty Raybon came out. He sang, "Ghost in This House", "Two Dozen Roses" and "Church On Cumberland Road" and treated the audience to that old magic that came from being reunited with the rest of Shenandoah.. I thought to myself.."it's all coming back to me now"..with maybe a tear in my eye..as that high lonesome moan of that familiar voice rang through my headphone mix. It had been 11 years since I had heard that voice as I played those classic songs.
I didn't get to say goodbye to Marty after the show but I know he was as pumped as the rest of us were..he did good and it was fun for all. We wish him the best in his music and travels ..as we continue down our own path. Shenandoah has always managed , by the grace of God, to find those special people..who fit like a glove and take Shenandoah to new places..like the talented Jimmy Yeary and Mike Folsom and we look forward to our future travels with them.
Darryl Worley put on a wonderful show and was so gracious to us..what a nice guy..he comes from our neck of the woods..Savannah, Tn and graduated from the University of North Alabama ..where I did also. He got on our bus and played us his cut of the song,"You Never Know"..it was great and looks promising to become a single off of his new CD. Everyone keep your fingers crossed.. that it's a big ol' hit! I know Ralph must be smiling down...being the inspiration behind the song_
Tradition for the past three years..is..after the show... riding in the back of golf carts with deputies driving us through the woods...where the thousands of folks are camping and selling and trading their wares..everything you can think of..lawn mowers, tail pipes, guns, knives, you name it....folks sittin' around bonfires..dogs laying around..garbage cans stacked high with beer..people milling about all night long..drinkin'...playing guitars..telling stories..it has to be seen to be believed..we even saw a girl dressed sort of like a nun..yes a nun.. and we heard she had some "bad habits"..
After the ride through the woods..we arrived back at the bus and said our goodbyes to Darryl and a tired but satisfied bunch headed back to Nashville. On the way back we watched video footage of the days activities...the impromptu sing along with Marty sounded great..Billy's show was captured as well as the Shenandoah show...we climbed into the bunks somewhere around 2 am I think... and drifted off.
The "Hillbilly Hotel" arrived back in Nashville around 7:30 am Sunday morning and once again , Mickey Riley had gotten us home ..safe and sound.
I want to thank Mike Allen and his brother Marty for their professionalism and attitude. Always a pleasure to work with them. Thanks to Becky and Lurline and all the hard working folks at Kenton for having us. Thanks to all for giving me a wonderful time this weekend.
Yep...Another country music adventure had been had by all...
Down the Road...Stan Munsey