Rumors of the demise of NewFound Road have been greatly exaggerated in recent years, but founder and lead singer Tim Shelton tells us that this time, it’s for real. The popular bluegrass group launched in 2001 as a Gospel act, and officially disbanded in 2013 after having evolved into a contemporary/progressive bluegrass band. Though occasional reunion shows since then have kept hope alive for an eventual return, Shelton told us last week that it has simply become to difficult to get the guys together with all the various projects they are working on these days.
“I looked at the possibility of doing a tour next year, but the obstacles kept popping up. We will do one final show next year on February 29 at the Plaza Theatre in Miamisburg, OH, but that will be it.
It will be the original band – me, Tim Caudill, Jr Williams, and Robin Baker – with Jim VanCleve on fiddle. Jim produced a couple of albums for us, and even toured with us some back in the day when Mountain Heart was idle.”
Shelton has stayed in the music business, and found a wide array of avenues to pursue his craft. Blessed with an unusually rich and expressive voice, he is at home in many styles of music, and now also behind the microphone as a successful podcast owner. Podcasting has become a lucrative business for many people, typically those who join an established network which works to promote and monetize the presentations. But the Tim Shelton Podcast is a wholly independent operation, with Tim being the engineer, sales rep, and voice talent all by himself.
His podcasts are typically released three times each week, and given his interests, often involve news and discussion of happenings in the bluegrass and wider music world. Guest may include artists or personalities in the music, or just interesting people that he runs across in his travels. One of the unique aspects of podcasting is the lack of time constraints. If you don’t have as much to say, it could run shorter one time, or a really good conversation could exceed the common one-hour format.
He voices the sponsor pieces in each episode, and generally front loads them towards the beginning of the podcast, but listen through to get to the meat.
“It’s a challenge to keep finding topics, but I always manage to do so. I’ve found the show doing well in markets close to me, like Cincinnati and Dayton, but also in San Francisco and Oakland in northern California, as well as Detroit, Nashville, and Asheville.
When I first started I didn’t have any gear at all, and still don’t have much. I would record in my truck using my phone. With little ones at home, there wasn’t really a quiet space inside. Now I record into the computer at my office in Dayton. I have a little studio set up where I can write, do my music work, and it’s just me here.”
Seasoned podcasters can find The Tim Shelton Podcast with most any apps they might use, and it is available in iTunes at no cost. It is also available for listening on his web site.
Also complicating his life is a new found passion for Christmas music, the sort once performed by artists like Nat King Cole, Perry Como, and Andy Williams. He will conduct a tour during the 2018 holiday season, traveling with a compact big band, and a show billed as Tim Shelton’s Very Vintage Christmas. Anyone who enjoys this classic bit of Americana in the central US should make a point to catch an appearance.
Tim thinks there is an unserved market that he could capture in a big way.
“I’ve had this idea for a couple years. Me and Josh Shilling did a small tour together, just piano guitar and voices to test the concept. There was no bluegrass, but it was great fun. I’ve always loved the old records from Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby… And there isn’t anything like that on the road in Christmas music. A vintage presentation in every sense of the word. It will look and feel like 1955.”
Here’s a preview he created to tease the act.
And if that wasn’t enough to keep a man busy, Tim has recently embarked on another side project, a new group with Heidi and Ryan Greer, and Tim Stafford of Blue Highway. Called Sailor Street, they won’t do but a limited number of shows given everyone’s other commitments, but an album is in the works.
Tim says that they knew they had a winner when a Facebook video of a practice session received 22,000 views in just a week. He attributes the attention to Heidi’s remarkable singing voice.
“Heidi is too good not to be heard. When the three of us sing, something special happens. I’m excited about it.”
You can hear some of their music on Facebook.
With all this in his life, Shelton told us that something had to go, and it was decided to let NewFound Road fade into the past.
“NFR didn’t play any shows for a couple of years there, but we never stopped playing altogether. Now with my kids, my Christmas tour, and my new band project there were too many irons in the fire. I’ve done NFR off and on for 17 years, and everyone else in the band has a lot going on as well.
Never say never, but I just think it’s time to close that door and move on. Just too difficult to get everyone together.”
While we say goodbye to the band, many congratulations go to Tim Shelton for staying involved with quality music. We look forward to his next move.