Exclusive: Interview With Shenandoah drummer/founder Mike McGuire

Mike McGuire (pictures second) started a band in 1985 and he never thought they would have major success and even win a Grammy. Some of you are familiar with Shenandoah by their number one hits such as “Two Dozen Roses” and “If Bubba Can Dance (I Can Too).” In 1996, they recorded a duet with Alison Krauss, “Somewhere In The Vicinity Of The Heart,” which is one of my all time favorites. Mike McGuire is a talented drummer and an even more talented songwriter. It was such an honor to be able to speak with him about his career and upcoming projects.

What does country music mean to you?

Country music means the world to me. It has given me the life I’ve lived for the past 25 years. I loved it even before we became ‘artists’ though. I learned to play guitar and sing listening to all of Hank William, Sr.’s old records, and honestly, it’s just woven into the fabric of my life. I love it!

Do you believe country music has to evolve?

I think everything evolves. A lot of people listen to the new sound of country music and complain that it’s not country. But they said the same thing about country music during our day and if you go back and listen, it sounds ‘country’ today. I expect what you are hearing these days will sound ‘country’ too in 20 years. But country music is like bluegrass…..we will always have our traditional instruments like fiddle and dobro and steel on our records. So everybody needs to lighten up on the Jason Aldean’s of the world. He’s STILL country!

Looking back to that moment of winning a Grammy, what was that like?

It’s funny…I don’t remember the ‘moment’. I just remember the trip out to Hollywood for the award show. I got to meet Shania Twain that night. That was a big thrill for me because I just think she’s awesome…in every way. Her songwriting, her records, her beauty, her story…..I admire everything about her. I remember we met Al Roker, the weather guy for NBC’s Today Show outside the building. He stopped and talked to us and told us he really was a big fan of what we were doing. And I remember sitting in the auditorium and the R&B singer Brandy was sitting in front of us. Oh…and we all got to take our wives. But the ‘moment’ we won? I’m drawing a blank there.

Out of all the songs you’ve written, what would you say is the one that stands out the most or means the most to you?

Well my only number one record as a songwriter was “If Bubba Can Dance, (I Can Too).” So, I guess I’d have to say that one, but it’s not the BEST song I’ve ever written. Not by a long-shot! Actually, I guess the one that means the most to me is a song I wrote with a friend of mine named Billy Maddox called ‘Daddy’s Little Man’. It was on Shenandoah’s ‘Extra Mile’ album.

I’ve told people in interviews before when asked about that song that I really feel like I didn’t even write it. It was a gift from God, I believe. It’s written from my dad’s viewpoint of how I thought he probably felt about me as a little boy. He always called me ‘Little Man’.

The night that song was written, I remember picking up my guitar and the first line just popped into my head, and I thought “That’s good,” and I was gonna get up and find a legal pad to write it down on and right at me feet there one was with a pen laying on top of it. It was like it was laying there all day waiting on me to get there to write this song on it. By the time I had the first line written down the second one had already come to me and then the third and then the fourth. I felt like I was taking dictation almost…it was coming so fast. Honestly, it felt like I was a guitar…I was making the noise, but God was playing me. I guess that’s why it’s almost like I didn’t even write it…it came so fast..so effortlessly. So I went in the room where Billy Maddox was and said, “Man you gotta hear this.” He stopped what he was doing and we tightened up the chorus and it was done. A few weeks later we had recorded it on the ‘Extra Mile’ album. “Daddy’s Little Man”…..a special song indeed!

Do you guys have a favorite place to perform?

My wife likes me to perform in our living room… haha. I don’t know why she likes to hear me sing so much. I’m just a harmony singer really, but she likes to listen to me. I guess she’s my biggest fan. As far as Shenandoah shows, I’ve loved everywhere we’ve played. North, South, East or West, country music fans have been just great to us…..everywhere!

What kind of things are you guys working on this year? Any new stuff in the works?

We mostly just concentrate on booking shows and playing our hits to everybody. Radio would never play anything new from us now. That’s a young man’s game. I AM doing one thing that’s really interesting, I think. At least everybody is telling me that it is. I’m writing a blog (I guess that’s what you’d call it) called ‘The Shenandoah Diaries’ which are short stories about our career…..all the things that happened to us during our hay-day. They can be seen on our website. Everybody seems to be enjoying them and I’m enjoying writing them so it’s fun. Who knows…..maybe I’ll put them all together when I’m done and make a book out of it. I’m also transferring all the VHS video tapes my mom saved of us over the years onto a digital media (Thank God for moms)! Those tapes are already showing signs of going bad so I’m getting it all saved as fast as I can. Lot’s of great memories on those old tapes. I’m trying to share the best of them on our YouTube channel as well.

Author: Brittany Vance

Southern WV born and bred who is a lover of all things country. She’s a mother of two and professional hell raiser. Brittany will pop in from time to time as a Guest Columnist who will present her unfiltered thoughts on the most recent country concerts and maybe an exclusive interview or two.

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