PITTSBURG — Award-winning country music group Shenandoah will play a show at Kansas Crossing Casino in Pittsburg on Saturday, April 6, complete with original singer Marty Raybon, who is back with the band after a 17-year hiatus lasting from the late 1990s until 2014.
“What we’re hearing more than anything else in the world from folks is ‘Man, I know it’s been 17 years, it’s been 20 years since y’all done a record. It sounds like y’all didn’t go anywhere. It sounds like you just picked up where you left off’,” Raybon said in a recent interview. Shenandoah has sold over a million albums worldwide and had more than a dozen number one hits, including "Two Dozen Roses," "The Church on Cumberland Road," "Sunday in the South," "Next to You, Next to Me," “I Want to be Loved Like That,” “Vicinity of the Heart,” and “Rock My Baby."
In 2018, the band released a new album, Reloaded. “It’s really good to be back out there, to do them kind of tunes and to kind of follow, with the new album, where you did leave off,” Raybon said. Shenandoah’s latest singles include “Noise,” “That’s Where I Grew Up,” and “Little Bit of Livin’.”
While Shenandoah’s sound may not have changed too much in more than 30 years, Raybon’s hiatus has not been the only change in the band’s lineup over three decades. Shenandoah now includes Jamie Michael on guitar and Paul Sanders on bass, taking the place of Ralph Ezell, who passed away in 2007.
Shenandoah played a few shows with Raybon back in the band in 2014. “But when things really started kicking into high gear was 2015,” Raybon said. Shenandoah has been playing an increasing number of tour dates every year since then, with more than 100 performances planned for 2019. But Raybon said playing so many concerts after his years away has not been more than the band can handle.
“It’s really no push at all,” Raybon said. “You know we’ve done it for so long, I guess you get kind of seasoned, like an athlete would.”
In 2017, Shenandoah opened for Garth Brooks at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. “To hear 20,000 people sing, and even before you get to the chorus they start singing with you, and man you’re listening to them and that’s just such a great feeling,” Raybon said. “You feel that in your heart, you know. It’s not a feeling of goosebumps or anything like that, it’s a treasured feeling, and what I mean by that is it’s going to be one of those memories, and when all is said and done and you’re sitting around in a rocking chair somewhere talking to your grandkids about what you did, it’ll be one of those times you can recall and you can reflect.”
Concert attendees at Shenandoah’s upcoming Kansas Crossing show can expect to hear many of the band’s classic hits, along with some of their newer songs.
“I love those big stadium shows,” Raybon said. “But I also love the smaller places, because to me they seem to be more intimate … It’s that intimacy, that closeness. You know you’re only just a few steps or maybe a good handshake away.”
While Shenandoah’s lineup has seen some changes over the years, the band has a new album out, and has been picking up the pace of its touring in recent years, some things have stayed the same since the band formed in Alabama in the 1980s.
“We still truly love people,” Raybon said. “We love entertaining people.”