Interview by Scott Preston
Southgate House Revival, 111 E 6th St, Newport, KY
6pm doors, 7pm show
$8 adv, $10 dos, Buy Tickets
Some artists find their groove, develop an audience, and, once that’s done, never stray from the comfort zone they’ve created for themselves and their fans—and for them, that’s fine. But that’s not Tim Shelton’s way. And so, after sharing in the creation of NewFound Road and spending a dozen years guiding the quartet’s transformation from a purely Gospel group into one of Bluegrass music’s most distinctive and admired ensembles, the acclaimed singer is trading the safety of familiar ground and an established career to head for new musical territory.
“I just want to make music that isn’t necessarily traditional Bluegrass. I love it, but I also love James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Rock, hard Rock, traditional Country—all of those. Just music. I think that people listen to the way I sing, and they assume I must be ‘going Country,’ but that’s not the direction I’m going. The vocals sound country because it’s me, but I’m not setting out to try to make some huge-sounding, very produced record. I want it to sound good, I want the music to be played right, but I don’t want a wall of sound—I’m not trying to make a Rascal Flatts or Jason Aldean record.”
It’s a tough road, Tim Shelton says, but it’s a rewarding one. “I’m not trying to make a statement,” he says, “and I’m not trying to say goodbye to bluegrass. I just don’t want to be pigeonholed. I don’t know why I want to do other kinds of music, but it’s just what I feel—and at the end of the day, that’s what I have to do.” (from timsheltonmusic.com)
Cincy Groove: Why did you decide to embark on a solo project after so many years in a band?
Tim Shelton: After 14 years in a band setting, I wanted to do something different, musically.
Cincy Groove: Tell me about the new record, why a collection of Jackson Browne songs? Who did you have on the record?
Tim Shelton: I’m a huge Jackson fan, as well as that era of music. It just felt like the thing to do, it’s something familiar and I feel like fans dig familiar. I’ll have several special guests, some of whom I’m still working on. The band is Ric Hordinski on guitar, Josh Seurkamp on drums and Dave LaBruyere on bass. Also had Clay Hess on some rhythm guitar. Shawn Lane from Blue Highway is singing some tenor and Josh Shilling from Mountain Heart is playing piano, B3 and singing some tenor and Jim VanCleve from Mountain Heart on some fiddle.
Cincy Groove: When did you decide that music was going to be your path in life?
Tim Shelton: I really wanted to do it from about 18-19 yrs old.
Cincy Groove: Was there anything else you wanted to do?
Tim Shelton: Not really.
Cincy Groove: What are you going to miss most about not touring regularly with NewFound Road?
Tim Shelton: Hanging the guys in the band. They become like family.
Cincy Groove: Is the new record going to have a different sound/musical style?
Tim Shelton: Absolutely, it’s not Acoustic or Bluegrass.
Cincy Groove: How do you feel about how the internet has changed the business model on how to make a living in music?
Tim Shelton: It still seems a little murky to me. I mean it’s a big world and there are tons of artists out there trying to make it and I think it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. “It” is something different for everyone too. I will say that it has been huge for some artists.
Cincy Groove: How do you feel about the different websites musicians can use to raise funds for an upcoming project? (PledgeMusic, Kickstarter etc…)
Tim Shelton: I think it’s great but I also think it’s more difficult than musicians think it is.
Cincy Groove: What is one of the most interesting experiences you have had on the road?
Tim Shelton: There are many but some of the best shows that stand out are getting to play The Grand Ole Opry, and playing the Ann Arbor Folk Festival a few years back in an auditorium of 4000 plus. There are many fun shows down thru the years tho.
Cincy Groove: What upcoming shows are you excited about?
Tim Shelton: Honestly all of them, but the NFR Reunion Show in TN will be fun! Also doing a Christmas mini-tour in Dec. with Josh Shilling.
Cincy Groove: What advice would you give to musicians just starting out?
Tim Shelton: Do your best. Do the best live show you can do, be prepared to work very hard. The road gets tough and travel can wear you down if you let it. Make great music, get out and play.