Songs from the Road Band at Peach’s


(L-R) Mark Schimick, Ryan Cavanaugh, Charles R. Humphrey III, Sam Wharton,
and James Schlender of the Songs from the Road Band.

By Katie Fender

The popular bluegrass ensemble, Songs from the Road Band, are making a stop at Peach’s Grill in Yellow Springs, and anyone with a taste for highly-acclaimed, talented, world renowned musicians should catch this show. While any opportunity to see a band of this caliber would be special, this particular show at Peach’s Grill is an extra special opportunity to enjoy some of the hottest musicians in bluegrass play in up close and personal. With no cover charge to boot!

Songs from the Road Band has climbed to the top of the Roots Music Report traditional bluegrass charts with their past three albums. Set for their fourth album, “Road to Nowhere,” which is due for release this spring, they are on the road again, touring all over the country to spread the news, and of course, play some old favorites.

Songs from the Road Band formed from a “clash of the titans” in terms of bluegrass musicians. This group is a collaboration of artists who were friends for a very long time. They created their own careers and made names for themselves in the music business. About ten years ago, they decided it was time to do a project together and that was the birth of the current band.

The incredible cast, which often rotates due to scheduling conflicts, includes an impressive list of talented musicians. Charles R. Humphrey III, one of the founders and original members of the band, plays bass and is a Grammy recipient and International Bluegrass Music Awards winner. Humphrey won a Grammy with his band Steep Canyon Rangers. When with Steep Canyon Rangers, Humphrey played alongside famous actor, Bluegrass lover and musician, Steve Martin. Humphrey is also a main writer on all of their albums. Guitarist and lead vocalist Sam Wharton became friends with Humphrey right before moving to Asheville, North Carolina.

“We came together in 2004 and we started recording albums then, but we were all in different bands and going in different directions. We really just wanted to kind of get together as friends and play music and have a good time. This is our fourth album together but our first tour together as this band,” said Wharton.

Mandolin player Mark Schimick is a highly acclaimed musician who has received fame in the jam grass scene playing with Larry Keel, Vassar Clements, and Tony Rice. 

Two-time national Fiddle champion James Schlender adds his bow to the group, along with Ryan Cavanaugh on five-string banjo. Cavanaugh has played with renowned artists such as Doc Watson, Doug Dillard, John McEuen, and jazz pianist Bill Evans. Phil Barker, who is a full time mandolin player in Town Mountain, added his writing abilities on the “Traveling Show” album. However, Barker is one of the bands rotating members, joining when he is available. Tommy Maher is also a rotating member who plays dobro when he’s not busy with the hit group Fireside Collective.

This being the first tour for the Songs of the Road Band, they’re really trying to cover a lot of ground. “We’re making our way across the country to share our music, we’re trying to get anywhere we can really,” said Wharton.

Wharton describes their music as a fusion of Bluegrass, Americana and jam grass. “90% of the music we play is original music. The inspiration for the albums comes from everywhere. I mean, Charles has been a touring musician for over 20 years now and the inspiration comes from all different places on the road. Anything and everything. Just keep your eyes and mind open,” said Wharton.

After the release of “Road to Nowhere” and the current tour, they’re optimistic for more albums in the future. “Were always in the creative process and always writing music so there will be lots more to come,” said Wharton.

Christine Monroe-Beard, co-owner and booking manager for Peach’s Grill, is well aware of what a great opportunity it is for people to come see Songs of the Road band. “We don’t do tickets or cover so it’s a pretty good opportunity for people to see a big band for nothing,” said Monroe-Beard. Peach’s will serve dinner until 9 p.m. and people are welcome to arrive whenever they choose. A big turnout is expected to see this show. “There isn’t a bad spot in Peach’s to see a band. We have a fantastic sound system and one of the best sound guys out there. It’s a great small venue to be that close to great musicians,” said Monroe-Beard.

Songs from the Road band will perform at Peach’s Grill, 104 Xenia Ave, Yellow Springs, on Friday, April 27 at 10 p.m. For more information, call 937.767.4850, or visit peachsgrill.com. The band’s official site is SongsFromTheRoadBand.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Katie Fender at KatieFender@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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