Ryan Cavanaugh explains departure from Songs From the Road Band

Esoteric and experimental banjo player Ryan Cavanaugh has explained his reasons for leaving his post with Songs From The Road Band, after a full year on the road, and having completed recording their next album, Waiting On A Ride.

The band was created by a number of renowned pickers, singers, and songwriters on the more progressive side of the bluegrass biz who wanted to put together a more traditionally-focused group. Members include Charles Humphrey III, a founding member of The Steep Canyon Rangers, jamgrass mando favorite Mark Shimick, guitarist Sam Wharton, and fiddler James Schlender.

Never one to let grass grow under his feet, Ryan says that he is simply itching to try his hand at something different.

“I need to pursue some of the sounds and ideas I couldn’t work on due to constantly being on the road. I’m really happy with how the new Songs From the Road Band record turned out and hope people hear the great ideas that went into it! I also recently heard that it reached #1 on the bluegrass charts which is really nice to hear! I wish Charles and the rest of the crew the best with their endeavors. We had a lot of fun that first year on the road!”

Cavanaugh has worked most every side of the banjo world. He toured for a time with jazz saxophonist Bill Evans’s Soulgrass Band, with Jeff Austin, and Jenni Lyn of Della Mae. Of late he has been doing guest appearances with Jeremy Garrett of Infamous String Dusters, Drew Emmitt of Leftover Salmon, and Adam Aijala of Yonder Mountain String Band.

“Guesting with various artists in the acoustic music community has been a great joy for me. I really enjoy playing fresh new material and the challenge of improvising with creative players.”

He also played on releases from mandolinist, Elio Schiavo, from which he shared this cut, 10,000 After.

Ryan expects to return to playing bluegrass sometime in the near future, but wants to explore some other ideas in the meantime.

 “For the immediate future I’ve completed a live solo improvisations record (on electric banjo) that hasn’t much to do with bluegrass. Some will like it and some will certainly not, however, in this modern time of complete compartmentalization of everything, I wanted to make soulful and creative music that is free of borders and labels. Just pure music. It’s soulful and I hope people hear that.

I’ve chosen the electric banjo as my paintbrush and made a very introspective work of free improvisations called, The Realist, to be released in the coming weeks. This is a precursor to an ensemble record I’m working on with trumpeter Randy Brecker and drummer Dennis Chambers.”

You can learn more about this talented 5 stringer on his official web site.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.