Jesse Smathers, guitarist with the Lonesome River Band, has just independently released a new single, Sing Darling Sing. The lively toe-tapping original tune has an old-time flavor that features a clawhammer banjo, fiddle, and mandolin. This is the first taste from Jesse’s next album. His debut solo project came in 2022.
“I’m proud to announce the release of Sing Darling Sing,” Smathers told us. “This love song tells the tale of a young fella’s journey to wed the girl of his dreams.”
When writing the song, Jesse took inspiration from his parents and grandparents – who are also an important part of his musical heritage. Hailing from Eden, North Carolina, Jesse comes from a long line of musicians. His grandfather, Harold Smathers, and great uncle, Luke Smathers, recorded for June Appal, and were awarded the North Carolina Folk Heritage Award in 1993 for their contributions to North Carolina Folk Music.
Jesse followed in their footsteps and began playing the guitar at age 11 and mandolin at 15. In 2009, he won the guitar championship of the Virginia Folk Music Association. The following year, after his high school graduation, he launched his career as a touring musician with the James King Band.
In 2014, Smathers joined Nothin’ Fancy. The same year, he was also inducted into Phi Mu Alpha, a music fraternity, as a Sinfonian – joining such greats as John Phillip Sousa, Count Bassie, Duke Ellington, and Andy Griffith. In 2015, Lonesome River Band welcomed him as a their new vocalist and mandolin player. In 2017, Jesse won the IBMA Momentum Award for Vocalist of the Year. After the departure of Brandon Rickman from LRB, Jesse assumed guitar duties in 2021.
Smathers acknowledges that Sing Darling Sing hearkens back to a simpler time.
“Before the days of being able to have a relationship over a phone or computer, and the accessibility that comes with it.
It’s just a happy love song that definitely draws inspiration from my own relationship and relationship examples I see set by older couples who didn’t have it near as easy. But because of their love for each other, their relationship persevered.
I’m so very passionate about this recording. I never have liked drawing hard lines on ‘Bluegrass/Old Time.’ I just like to make good honest-to-goodness string music. I love the energy and feel good nature of the recording.
This sets the tone for a second recording set to release in 2024.”
The songwriter and multi-instrumentalist shared the inspiration behind his song.
“We got married in April 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic. Our wedding went from a large gathering and celebration to ten immediate family members with the snap of a finger. We were not going to let COVID stop us from marrying, just made major modifications: no reception, no honeymoon. Over a year and a half later, we finally had our reception and had all our friends and family. This winter we are finally taking our much needed honeymoon. We found a silver lining behind those inconveniences. Those memories and inconveniences only made our relationship stronger.”
His wife, Sarah, noted, “I am very proud of my husband. Music is how we met, and it means a lot to have a song written talking about the love and happiness we share together.”
Sing Darling Sing features Smathers on guitar and lead vocals, with Nick Goad on harmony vocals and mandolin. Corbin Hayslett is on banjo, Hunter Berry on fiddle, and Joe Hannabach on bass.
Smathers encourages you to give his music a listen. “This can be found wherever folks like to stream music, and is available on AirPlay Direct for DJs.”
Bluegrass needs more happy love songs. This one seems to fit the bill.