Lonesome River Band is one of bluegrass music’s longest running touring acts. They recently completed 28 years recording and performing under that name, serving as a proving ground for some of today’s most celebrated bluegrass artists in the process.
Adam Steffey, Dan Tymisnki, Ronnie Bowman, Kenny Smith, Don Rigsby, Jeff Parker, Rickie Simpkins, Steve Dilling, Dale Perry and Tim Austin all spent time with LRB, and the and the current lineup is working now on their 14th record – the 10th since Sammy Shelor joined the band on banjo in 1990.
Bluegrass historians view the history of LRB in four eras – the early days, the Carrying The Tradition era, the late 90s edition, and the Sammy Shelor era. The early days account for the time before the band came to the attention of a national audience, and while they were first doing so. It was during this time that Adam Steffey worked with the band, and when Dan Tyminski first joined. Three albums were released during this period (self-titled debut LP, Saturday Night, Sunday Morning and Looking For Yourself).
Carrying The Tradition was their first big record, and marked the debuts of Sammy Shelor and Ronnie Bowman as members of Lonesome River Band, along with Tyminski and founder Tim Austin. This lineup only cut this and one other album (Old Country Town) in 1991 and ’94 respectively.
When Tymisnki left to join Alison Krauss’ band and Austin decided to focus on his recording studio, the next era began. Don Rigsby came in on mandolin and tenor vocals and Kenny Smith on guitar. They recorded three popular and influetial projects for Sugar Hill – One Step Forward (1996), Finding The Way (1998) and Talking To Myself (2000).
Bowman, Rigsby and Smith all left in ’01 and Sammy Shelor took over management of the band. Brandon Rickman and Jeff Parker came in as primary vocalists, and though the personnel has varied this past 9 years, Sammy has turned out four albums since he took the helm – Window Of Time (2002), Head On Into Heartache (2005), The Road With No End (2006) and No Turning Back (2008).
Now comes word that Don Rigsby has arranged a reunion of the 1995-2001 edition of LRB, with a concert scheduled on March 19 at The Mountain Arts Center in Prestonburg, KY. It is billed as the 12th Annual Don Rigsby Homecoming and is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. start time. The band will be Rigsby on mandolin, Kenny Smith on guitar, Ronie Bowman on bass and Sammy Shelor on banjo.
Tickets go on sale tomorrow (1/13) and can be purchased online. The Bartley Brothers will open the show.
UPDATE 1/13: Thanks to Steve Schaaf, who found another LRB release we missed.
“Thanks for doing the brief history of LRB, one of my all-time favorite bands, on the blog yesterday. I sure wish I could be at the reunion show. As the proud owner of the entire LRB discography (so far), I noticed one oversight – I believe I Guess Heartaches Are in Style This Year was the debut album in 1985. The self-titled album, or as my friend Larry Neu calls it ‘The Red Album,’ was the second (though possibly the first on a major label).”