Known for high-energy performances, tight three-part harmonies, and masterful improvisational jams, Songs From the Road Band has built up a devoted following through many concert and festival performances each year. Smoky Mountain News calls them a “band of melodic pirates, roaring down the highways and backroads of Southern Appalachia, in search of a stage to play…” Now, the hardworking Asheville-based band has captured a bit of that on-stage energy with their latest single - a longtime crowd favorite.
“We added ‘Suspicious Minds’ to the live set several years ago,” explains Charles R Humphrey III, the group’s bassist. “It’s a classic song that we reworked in the bluegrass style.”
Originally written by Mark James in 1968, “Suspicious Minds” was popularized by Elvis Presley. Humphrey explains that a line can be drawn from the song back to bluegrass: “Elvis recorded Bill Monroe’s ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’ in the 1950’s, arranging it in a more uptempo pop style. We wanted to take a classic Elvis tune and arrange it bluegrass-style. To us, it makes sense - and it’s really fun to play!”
The arrangement is a natural fit for Songs From the Road Band, showcasing the band’s instrumental chops and allowing them to stretch out vocally and instrumentally. Mandolinist Mark Schimick - an award-winning contest mandolin player - sings lead on “Suspicious Minds.” Founding member and guitarist Sam Wharton and two-time National Fiddle Champion James Schlender provide harmony vocals. “Suspicious Minds” also features guest performances from Kyle Tuttle (of Molly Tuttle and Golden Highway) on banjo and Tommy Maher (of Fireside Collective) on dobro.
Since the song has become a staple at Songs From the Road Band shows, the group recently decided the time was right to record it. They headed Nashville recording studio Forty-one-Fifteen, and tapped Charlie Chamberlain to co-produce and engineer the track.
“We had just as much fun recording it as we do playing it live,” Humphrey concludes, “and we hope you’ll have just as much fun listening to it!”
“Suspicious Minds” releases everywhere on Friday, June 3rd. Listeners can look for it on the streaming service of their choice, and interested radio programmers can download the song from AirPlay Direct.