Shannon Slaughter has been one of my favorite bluegrass guitarists since I first met him in the mid-1990s.
At the time, he had just finished a stint with Lost & Found, and had joined Larry Stephenson’s band. It was immediately obvious that he was a powerhouse rhythm man, but I soon also discovered that Shannon was a passionate, bluesy singer, and a terrific songwriter as well.
Before long he was working with Melonie Cannon, while also teaching high school history and coaching football in Wilkesboro, NC. That was followed by a gig with Lonesome River Band, and his current association with Lou Reid & Carolina.
All the while he was continuing to write songs, and helped form a second group called County Clare, which included former Quicksilver banjoist Joey Cox and former Kenny & Amanda Smith mandolinist Ronald Inscore, along with his recent bride Heather Slaughter on bass.
Using this core group, plus some of the heavy hitters he has worked with along the way, Shannon is set to release his first solo record, The Sideman Steps Out, in March. Eight of the album’s fourteen songs are ones he wrote or co-wrote, and he plays guitar and sings on them all. Heather shares lead vocals on a couple of tracks, with harmony singing from Lou Reid, Shawn Lane and Barry Berrier. Heather Slaughter also sings harmony on most of the songs.
The album is strong from the drop, and we’ll have a lot more to say about it as the release date draws near, but we did want to highlight the first single, which is available to bluegrass radio now. It’s called The Working Man, and tells a gritty tale of self-sufficiency and pride in taking care of your own needs.
Shannon is joined here by Cox on banjo, Inscore on mandolin, Heather on bass and harmony vocal, and Shawn lane on fiddle and harmony vocal.
The Working Man:
Tim Stafford, who also contributes a song to the CD, speaks quite highly of the finished project.
I’m sure there will be lots of great bluegrass recordings released this year, but you’d be hard pressed to find a better one than The Sideman Steps Out.”
The album will be released by Elite Circuit Music, and radio programmers interested in getting a copy of the single are urged to contact Shannon directly.