Sat 5/19 @ 8PM
For the better part of the last four decades, Akron native Marc Lee Shannon has been playing music with a wide array of bands. During the ’80s the singer-guitarist was in Los Angeles as a member of groups such as the Rave-Ups, Lone Justice and the Beat Farmers.
During the ’90s, he brought his skills back to Northeast Ohio as a member of Michael Stanley’s backing group The Resonators, as well as the Top Kats and the Midlife Chryslers.
Despite his vast resume, the one thing missing was a solo career, which he briefly started a decade ago with his debut, Any Ordinary Man. Now Shannon is back with new album Walk This Road. Fans of Buddy Miller, Jason Isbell, John Hiatt and Tom Petty will find common ground on the new project, which features guest appearances by members of Welshly Arms, Shooter Sharp and the Shootouts, the Vindys, the Speedbumps and Ray Flanagan & the Authorities.
To celebrate the new album, Shannon has booked a May 19 show at The Tangier with Ryan Humbert, Emily Bates, John Anthony, Ed Davis, Russ Flanagan and Kevin Robert Martinez joining him on stage.
CoolCleveland talked to Shannon about the trials and tribulations that led to Walk This Road.
CoolCleveland: Before we talk about the new album, your first solo effort was 2008’s Any Ordinary Man. What took so long?
Marc Lee Shannon: It’s crazy. I’ve been a member of Michael Stanley and the Resonators since 1995. Back in 2006, Michael was kind enough to produce my very first record. At the time, I was still employed in the corporate world, so I didn’t get a chance to tour. It was a labor of love of 18 months one night a week. It came out, we sold a bunch, but that was it.
CC: So a decade later you’re back with Walk This Road. Tell us how the project came about.
MLS: This record is different. I had a life crash in 2015. I left the corporate world, I had to clean up a lot of things in my life, make a lot of changes. And I don’t mind telling the world I went into recovery and I’m a recovering alcoholic. So it was 10 years of writing songs that needed to get heard. Last year in April I sat on Ryan Humbert’s porch in Canton and I played the songs for him. He convinced me they were worth it. That was a big moment for me. So we started talking about putting the record together and just doing it. Everything kind of came together magically late 2017. The album was produced by Ryan and recorded by Jim Stewart at Superior Sound. We did it in six days.
CC: Considering this is your second album, how did you approach the recording?
MLS: I have great respect for the way a lot of people make records today with Pro Tools where you can get 15 tracks and make it perfect, but I didn’t want that. I wanted more of an old-school approach like my days in Los Angeles as a member of the Rave-Ups and all of the session work did through the ’80s. Just guys getting together in a room.
CC: I have to imagine recording Walk This Road was very cathartic considering it came out after finding sobriety.
MLS: This record really is a culmination of just about how everything can really go great. To be honest, the first year after I got sober I wasn’t able to really do much. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. A lot of these songs were written in a very dark room and to have them see the light of day is pretty fantastic. There are songs on here that are ringing true about a transformation of your life. There are also fun songs. I’m in a new relationship with a beautiful woman. That’s been an amazing gift to me in my life. All of that is part of the promises that come true to you if you take the big step to try and change your world and your life. That’s really what happened.
CC: Stylistically, what were you going for with the new record?
MLS: There are a lot of different styles for me as a writer. As a session musician in Los Angeles, I did a lot of different types of playing. And in the Resonators, I’m called upon to do a lot of different things. I’m the utility infielder in that band. As a writer, my tastes go from Buddy Miller to Jason Isbell to the stuff Dave Cobb is doing in Nashville to John Hiatt. So a lot of these songs are like that. The title track’ “Carousel” is a swampy song. That came up pretty amazingly. Ray Flanagan plays a pretty great solo on that and we’ve got the singers from Welshly Arms singing on there. There are also the players from the Vindys on there, as well as Kevin Robert Martinez. Overall, the record is rust belt, singer-songwriter, Americana.
CC: Considering you didn’t get a chance to tour the last project, what are your plans?
MLS: I’m kind of letting it happen as it is. I’m semi-retired right now. So I’m able to have more freedom to see what the interest in the record is, but I have no problem with playing out a lot more certainly locally and nationally if the opportunities arrive. You put out a record and you see where it goes. This, more than anything, is a beginning of a transformation. I’m not really sure what’s going to happen now. I’m hoping more records will happen down the road. I’m sure they will. I’ll be 60 years old this year, and I look good, by the way. I’ve been sober for three and a half years, and everything is new and amazing and wonderful. It’s like a whole brand-new life for me.