A statement from Sammy Shelor

The following is a statement from Sammy Shelor, in which he comments on and responds to the many rumors that have been circulating about him and the future of Lonesome River Band. We have enabled commenting on this post so please feel free to respond to Sammy, or share your thoughts about his statement – or my closing comments – here on Bluegrass Today.

“I guess it”s time to dispel the rumors that have been floating around the Bluegrass world about myself and the Lonesome River Band.

First of all, I have not gone to work with the Seldom Scene!

Ben Eldridge, one of my favorite people in the Bluegrass industry, is still alive and well and playing as great as he ever did. The only thing that I ever said about this matter is that if Ben ever retired from that band, that would be a job I would seriously consider. I guess it”s my fault for telling anyone this because the “rumor mill” has blown this totally out of context.

Secondly, the Lonesome River Band is still in existence. There are going to be personnel changes, but what else is new in the Bluegrass business. Because of the economy these days, members have been forced to make changes in their careers, hence changes in LRB. There have been at least 25 different players in LRB since it started in the early 1980″s, and with every change, there has always been a slightly different sound in the band. There are no bluegrass “clones” out there, but with each change, we have tried to maintain a standard in the LRB sound. This will hold true in what we do in the future. Just give it a chance because you cannot compare apples to oranges. Hopefully the public will accept what we will do next.

I did consider at one point giving it a rest for a while, and it again was my fault for discussing this with anyone. With today”s technology, rumors and stories grow at a rate far too fast for my lifestyle. Because of promoters, buyers, DJ”s, and print media reading chat groups and internet newsletters, we are having to do a lot of damage control in order to keep the band going. I personally have not read any of these stories because I do not want to have hard feelings against anyone who has spread these stories without consulting me first. I do not want to know who you are.

All I ask is that you consider the people that are out here trying to bring you quality music and are trying to support their families by doing so. This is a hard business to succeed in, and negative rumors and stories help no one. Just try to include the facts.”

“Walk a mile in my boots”
Thank you!
Sammy Shelor
Lonesome River Band

Let me add a personal comment, and say something that Sam didn’t: Internet gossip and rumor-mongering is as unattractive a trait, and as potentially damaging an activity as any other kind of gossip ever was – but with a speed and penetration that no network of backyard fences ever could command. I understand the appeal, and am probably as guilty as the next person when it comes to sharing “what I just heard” with friends and family.

But most of us learned at an early age that some information is not for general distribution, and it seems to me that anyone who works in or near the world of professional bluegrass music has a particular responsibility to hold private conversations with other industry folks in confidence. “Don’t tell everything you know” is still wise counsel.

The thing that has caused real damage to Sam and Lonesome River Band is the act of taking casual gossip public in an online chat forum or wide distribution email list. Would you be proud to know that you cost a professional act several thousand dollars in much-needed income by “reporting” as fact something that you had simply heard whispered by another picker at a festival? It was seeing this sort of thing build on itself online that had festival promoters concerned that a major act might not be able to fulfill their contractual obligations for 2006 and beyond, and has put Sammy Shelor in this “damage control” mode.

These artists make very real personal sacrifices to bring the music we all love to us where we live. Yes, they have made this choice, and they have to accept the good and the bad, but please people, when you indulge in gossip or pass along rumors, be aware of the damage it can cause. If you make such information public online, make a serious effort to find out whether it has any truth before passing it along as fact, and if you are simply repeating gossip or supposition, make that plain.

Be assured that you will not see unsourced, unfounded information like that here on Bluegrass Today. In fact, combating it was a major part of the reason this site was launched.

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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.

  • I totally agree with everything that both Sammy and John have said here. Things mentioned in confidence to trusted friends should remain just that – confidential. Be sure of your facts, but more importantly, be sure it’s for public knowledge before inserting your foot into your mouth. I hope to see Sammy and LRB continue for a long, long time as a great band, and trusted friends.

  • One further note…

    In case it wasn’t obvious from the initial posting, this statement from Sammy was sent to us from him directly, and posted here at his particular request.

  • Brandon Brummett

    Nic job on dispelling rumors, as always John, you’re a class act!


  • I agree with John. I find the whole gossip mill ridiculous. I asked Dudley what was going on and he had to call Ben to see what he’d heard. Dudley is the King of Good Sports and I would assume both LRB and the scene will continue for years. LRB may have some new faces, but they will have Sammy’s vision, and the Scene will have a new face or two from time to time, but it’s still Ben and John’s visions. That doesn’t rule out some well placed rumors in jest, however. More inaccurate rumors will just make things in the rumor mill harder to take seriously. Here’s a rumor: Jimmy Martin is my Grandfather–true or false?

  • David Conner

    One of the cool things about Bluegrass Music is the willingness of the artists to interact with the fans. Unfounded rumors and gossip, over time, could possibly destroy that relationship.

  • I’m glad that Sammy has responded to clear up the rumors. One thing I would throw out is that a website is usually a good thing but one that is woefully out of date is a bad thing. The LRB website has not been updated in literally a year + and maybe that lends to the rumors as there is no new activity there and no place to clarify these rumors. IMHO just goes to show that IF you have a website it REALLY is important to keep it current. Then it would be a great place to communicate w/ your fan base and the public in general. Wish Sammy all the best and look forward to seeing them at the LRB festival next April!!!! Brink Brinkman

  • Steve Smith

    LRB has always weathered the rumor mill and they will this time as well. Sammy and the band sound great and will continue to be a force on the Bluegrass Circuit. You guys are always welcome in North Carolina so come on down.

  • I had heard of the demise of this band about a month ago and let it lay.. I did not post anything about the “rumor” because of this exact reason, it is only a rumor. Glad to know that we can all offer a sigh of relief now….

    Clyde Scott – BluegrassRadio.org

  • cin denman

    Dave and I consider Sammy a very dear friend. When Sammy Shelor tells you something, you can count on it!
    LRB will always be as long as Sammy is involved.
    Best of luck with the new band and hope all is well.
    Sammy, you are a “constant” in our lives and in our hearts…

  • Brenda Hanson

    I’ve had the chance of meeting and talking with Sammy a couple of times—I found him to be of the finest nature, purely good hearted and kind… his humility speaks for itself, as does his caliber as a musician, a person who wouldn’t think of mis-handling his own words or comments about others. (Sometimes, the true nature of a person just shines through from the briefest encounter!)

    People need to think about what they say and how it can affect others…….can’t we simply appreciate and enjoy what LRB has given and shared over the years? And Sammy, if you read this, hang in there– you remain a high inpsiration to so many of us!

  • Bernie Ross

    Hey, just as a new rumour gets going, John stuffs it! That?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s unsporting, I say. What would we have to talk about with a few rumours every now and again? More arguments about tone rings and planting two fingers or one? Eh? I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢m working on a new (very juicy) rumour, which I intend to unleash upon international banjodom in the near future. You have been warned. (I didn’t start the Sammy LRB one, but I salute the person who did!)

  • Ed Bolton

    Tho I’ve never met Sammy, I do know what visious rumors can do to a band or an individual musician. Good for you Sammy. Keep on truckin’

  • I just want to say that Sammy Shelor is and has been a good friend for some time and his festival The Lonesome River Band Music Fest is alive and well and growing by leaps and bounds! Thanks Sammy, Don Miller Promoter http://www.lrbmusicfest.com

  • Dan Oneufer

    I haven’t had much prior exposure to this band, but had an opportunity to see them just this weekend. They did a fantastic show. As he says, LRB is still in existence–and boy did they pour it out for the fans.

  • Gary Robertson

    I have had the pleasure of knowing Sammy and enjoying his impeccable Banjo playing since his early years as a member of The Virginia Squires. Sammy has always been kind and gracious. He knows where his bread is buttered and takes the time to sign autographs and answer questions. When I heard the rumor of the demise of the Lonesome River Band a few weeks ago, I was disappointed, but knowing that Sammy completely rebuilt this band just a few years ago, I felt certain that whatever problems the LRB were having that Sammy would pull the band through. Sammy, my life is enriched by having had the opportunity to know you and to hear your fantanstic Banjo. Thank you!