Country musician Marty Raybon first thought that someone was pulling a prank on him.
“I got a message that Frank Liddell wanted me to call him. He was doing a record on Miranda Lambert, and he wanted me to sing on the record. I thought it was a joke,” Raybon tells Billboard.
So the former lead singer of Shenandoah didn’t rush to return the call that he didn’t think was legit. Then, Liddell tried again.
“All of a sudden, he gets word to another of my friends who emailed me, who would have had no idea about the first message. So I thought, ‘If this is a joke, I’ll fall for it.’ The next thing you know, we’re talking and he says, ‘I’ll send you the tune. To be honest, it kind of pays homage to Shenandoah.’ I hear the track, which Miranda had already put her vocal on, and for the first time, I thought they were serious. I called him back, and said, ‘This is really cool. Is this really going on Miranda’s record? He said it was, and I asked him what he wanted me to do. So I came up to Nashville and we played with it.”
The song, “Another Sunday In the South,” would end up as the closing track on Lambert’s CMA-winning album Platinum. Raybon’s vocals can be heard loud and clear on the track, a tribute to ’80s and ’90s country. He jokes that it still takes a little bit of getting used to.
“To be honest with you, I sat there totally in amazement that I was part of it,” he tells The 615. “I don’t want to use the word surreal because I think it’s become a buzz word that has gotten to be way overused. But there really was a sense that it wasn’t really happening. Then I get a copy of it mixed down, and I thought it was killer.”
Ironically, the song came about as Raybon was having some conversations with his former bandmates concerning the possibility of touring again.
“Some of the guys had called me and wanted to have lunch. I asked them if we were going to talk about anything in particular. We had talked about doing a reunion on several occasions, and it never happened. I told them I was willing to do it, and that I would love to do it. But if it’s going to be like the times before, I would rather just have lunch and catch up. We met again after that, and I told them, ‘You’re not going to believe this, and I played it for them. We all agreed that it made all the sense in the world, and we were all in one accord.”
So with that meeting, the idea was set for a reunion for one of the most successful bands of the 1980s and 1990s. Dates have been filling quickly on the itinerary for the band -- which will be billed as Shenandoah Reloaded featuring Marty Raybon. He feels that title makes sense so there is no confusion.
“Shenandoah had gone out after I left in 1997, and were still doing dates with different lead singers,” he reasoned. “A lot of promoters would ask, ‘Is Marty going to be with them?’ They would explain that I wasn’t with the band anymore, but this way, the question never has to be asked. If a buyer wants to book the band, they don’t have to ask. Our booking agent, Bobby Roberts, thought that was a great way to approach it.”
The band has already played a few dates in Canada to develop their stage show, and that time together inspired them to also revisit the recording studio, recording a digital-only holiday release titled Christmas Comes Alive. Raybon says it’s reminiscent of old times.
“It’s a killer feeling. It’s like we picked up where we left off,” he says. “I love seeing the excitement in everyone else’s face, knowing they feel the same way that I did about it. It was a lot of things like I remembered. When you worked together as long as we did, we got to know each other very well -- to the point that you knew when we were doing something, cogs were turning in each others’ head. I was in the control room while the band was playing, and you knew that Stan or Jamie was going to come up with something really good. Something that I realized I had missed a great deal was the sound that we had -- the way we played music together on the records. I know it’s Christmas music, but it kind of sounded like what we did -- ‘Mama Knows,’ or ‘Vicinity In The Heart.’ it just has that same kind of feel, that sound. It’s just real exciting.”