"...a collection of exciting songs by some of the finest traveling musicians. And traveling musicians are the best musicians."
"A hardy collection of dynamic tunes that will thrill the heart."
Steve Martin -banjo player, actor, comedian, etc...
“Traveling Show” a showcase of young musicians carrying the bluegrass tradition forward to a bright, creative, compelling future.
Jack Bernhardt -Raleigh News & Observer
There’s a special energy with this group of friends, and decades of traveling road shows have given them the experience needed to pull off an album that puts the song–the “joyful sound”— first and foremost.
Brian Swenk -Bluegrass Today
A full album of strong new songs demonstrates that the bluegrass genre still has plenty of life at 70 years of age.
Charles Humphrey III plays bass with bluegrass music’s Grammy-winning Steep Canyon Rangers. The native Tar Heel is a prolific songwriter as well, and his compositions are often performed by a talented collection of friends on CDs he produces at those rare times when the musicians are not on tour.
“Traveling Show” is Songs from the Road Band’s third album on Humphrey’s Lucks Dumpy Toad Records. It features 14 tracks written by Humphrey and co-writers, including Jonathan Byrd, Shawn Camp and Calico Moon’s Mark Bumgarner. The songs are performed by 11 of Humphrey’s friends, and mixed and mastered at Chapel Hill’s Rubber Room Studio.
“Traveling Show” opens with the title track, a reflection on life on the road that will resonate with any hard-traveling musician. It’s performed by Mandolin Orange wunderkind Andrew Marlin, who co-produced the album; Marlin also sings lead on “Silk and Lace” and “Rake Out the Nails” (a duet with his M.O. partner, Emily Frantz).
Guitarist Sam Wharton sings joyously of “jumping the broom” in the tongue-in-cheek “Hillbilly Wedding Day.” Town Mountain’s Phil Barker imparts a wistful feel to the Grateful Dead-inspired “By the Banks” and pain and sorrow to the fatal tragedy of “Thompson Flood.” “Just Let Go,” sung by Leftover Salmon’s Andy Thorn, is presented as a newgrassy tour de force.
Additional contributions are provided by Town Mountain’s Robert Greer and fiddler Bobby Britt, along with other young and talented pickers and singers. Together, they make “Traveling Show” a showcase of young musicians carrying the bluegrass tradition forward to a bright, creative, compelling future.
Correspondent Jack Bernhardt
"Beat Americana: Out on the Highway with the Songs From the Road Band"
Bluegrass has long been the music of the rebellious type, forging a distinct sound apart from its country brethren. Yet it's not necessarily the kind of music that comes to mind when one thinks of a counterculture. Charles Humphrey and his band of acoustic outlaws might just change our minds about that. They seem less intent on proving how different their music is and more inclined to just sing of all the joy and redemption this imperfect world will offer. With an equally exuberant and melancholic ethos seemingly gleamed from the wholly American writers of the Beat Generation, the Songs from the Road Band meshes their unique perspective with a whole lot of natural talent. They are less a group in the conventional sense and more of a musical caravan that travels a landscape of Americana, offering a Whitmanesque view of this country while singing of tales often left untold. Helmed by Charles Humphrey III, the band is a collective of players and vocalists from the young new vanguard of acoustic music. This new album serves as an outlet for the distinct vision of America he has crafted on the road during the past decade as songwriter/bass player for Asheville, NC's nationally-touring, bluegrass powerhouse The Steep Canyon Rangers. As the Crow Flies is the follow-up to 2006's self-titled release, which was marked by a bluegrass-infused, laid-back collection of original country songwriting that equally embraced heartache and the open road. Since then, Humphrey's songwriting has become more poignant, probing and relevant. He explores the trials and tribulations of cannabis farming on the classic-sounding track "How Can It Be Wrong If It Grows Wild" and the agony of an unjust war overseas on the emotional and thought-provoking "What Are We Waiting For," which features a stunning vocal rendition by singer Shannon Whitworth. Humphrey's lyrical canvas shines best when he captures the rustic America and offers a longing for a country of old that embraces a compatriotism that we all yearn for but rarely inhabit. Vocalist Robert Greer (frontman for Asheville bluegrass band Town Mountain) lends his iconic singing on several standout tracks, most notably the pleading, tempo-shifting "Don't Give Up On Me." Instrumentally, the playing on this album is simply outstanding. Every acoustic player is highly skilled and provides numerous, dynamic instrumental breaks throughout the album. You will be hard-pressed to find a fiddler and banjo player more talented than Nicky Sanders (Steep Canyon Rangers) and Andy Thorn (Emmitt-Nershi Band), respectively, and even if you think you did, I bet these guys are still better. Sam Wharton and Mark Schimick share the bulk of the lead singing while also offering their rapid-fire licks on lead guitar and mandolin, respectively. Asheville musician Lance Mill contributes his distinct and natural vocal stylings to two tracks. Of course, bass-playing duties and harmony vocals are provided by Humphrey. His songwriting is an unabashed celebration of our great American folk traditions. As the Crow Flies showcases a talented squad of musicians offering as genuine an exploration into Americana as you will find today. Equally poignant and gregarious, this album is remarkable for its ability to infuse traditional Americana with a highly personal vision of a country still bound for glory.