Ed. Note: The Lonesome River Band will be in Poughkeepsie on November 17 and is presented by the Hudson Valley Bluegrass Association.
The Lonesome River Band is celebrating their 30th anniversary and to mark the occasion, has issued a special 30th anniversary retrospective collection. Chronology is comprised of twenty-four songs recorded to be released
in three volumes of three 8 song EPs.
Formed in 1982, the band has seen numerous personnel changes. Lonesome River Band was founded by Tim Austin who remained a constant thru the mid-nineties. The original lineup featured Steve Thomas on mandolin and fiddle, Rick Williams on banjo, and Jerry McMillan on bass, in addition to Tim Austin on rhythm guitar and vocals. Their national debut came with a self-titled album, released by Rebel in 1986. Guest artists over the years include a who’s who of bluegrass greats including Mike Aldridge, Dan Taminsky and Ricky Simpkins who also played in the band for a few years, Alison Krauss and Jerry Douglas to name a few. The current lineup includes Brandon Rickman, guitar, lead and harmony vocals; Randy Jones, mandolin, lead and harmony vocals; Barry Reed, acoustic bass and harmony vocals; Mike Hartgrove, fiddle, and Sammy Shelor, banjo and harmony vocals, all in fine form on this recording.
Chronology Volume One examines the band’s first decade with updated recordings of their most popular tunes from that era. From their debut album comes new versions of “The Old Man in the Shanty” and a beautiful rendition of the Jimmy Martin classic “Mary Ann.”
From 1991’s Carrying the Tradition comes a reprise of “The Game is Over” and a personal favorite “Hobo Blues.” In addition to featuring great vocals and a tight arrangement, the improvisations on this tune are tasty. Beginning with a jazzy intro, the band deftly transitions into a comfortable bluegrass rhythm, with Rickman and Jones sharing soulful lead and harmony vocals.
Although routed in the tradition sound of artist including Flatt and Scruggs and Bill Monroe, LRB has always features a driving rhythm, tight vocal harmonies and arrangement, in addition to dynamic improvisations. Just listen to their treatment of Angeline the Baker, with Shelor, Jones and Hartgrove trading licks on this old time foot tapper.
If you don’t have the original recording, Chronology will give you a fine introduction to those early albums, and maybe get you to search out the originals. Can’t wait to see what’s on the next 2 volumes.
Rural Rhythms Records