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Lonesome River Band
Still Learning

 

  The Lonesome River Band has been around for 30 years. And while he wasn't a founding member, banjo player Sammy Shelor is the defacto leader of the band by virtue of the length of his tenure. On their latest album, Still Learning, The Lonesome River Band pushes forward with the same driving sound that has made them longtime fan favorites.

The Lonesome River Band's roster has included such bluegrass luminaries as Ronnie Bowman, Dan Tyminski, Adam Steffey, Kenny Smith, Ron Stewart and Rickie Simpkins. The current line-up includes Brandon Rickman on guitar and lead vocals, Andy Ball on mandolin and vocals, Mike Anglin on bass, Mark Hargrove on fiddle and Shelor on banjo and harmony vocals. As its oldest member Shelor serves as the lynchpin of the group. His right-hand precision infuses every song with a solid rhythmic pocket. Shelor's ability to be ever so slightly in front of the beat without speeding up marks his playing as unique.

Young Brandon Rickman already has two solo albums under his belt. He's a fine songwriter, and on Still Learning adds four new songs to the mix, including the title tune. His blues tune, "Forty Days in The Desert," combines pentatonic licks with an Old Testament narrative. On "As Wild As I Get," Rickman weaves a tale of youthful hi-jinx with adult love. The melody is hauntingly delicate with perfect harmonies and gently restrained mandolin fills from Andy Ball. Lonesome River's cover of Ashby Frank's "I've Seen the Blues" combines carefully crafted vocal harmonies with hot solos to form a nearly perfect bluegrass song.

If you are a longtime Lonesome River fan, (and what bluegrass fan isn't a Lonesome River Fan?) you won't be disappointed by Still Learning. If you don't have any Lonesome River albums in your possession, it's time to start now.

 

 

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