Lonesome River Band celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012, and to celebrate they are releasing three CDs, each with eight songs, and each celebrating a particular decade. Chronology Volume One covers the 1980s.
It would be a little misleading to call this a retrospective, as there is a completely different lineup from the original band now. This Rural Rhythm Records release features new versions of the old songs played by the current band, so it might not be quite what longtime fans expect.
Nevertheless, Chronology Volume One offers all of the excellent bluegrass qualities that have allowed Lonesome River Band to constantly reinvent itself and yet maintain its reputation and following for all these years.
Banjo player Sammy Shelor has been with the group a long time and has won many awards. It is easy to see why on these songs, particularly the instrumental “Angeline the Baker,” which clearly conveys the Celtic influence on bluegrass. Shelor’s driving style forms the core of the group’s sound.
Shelor is joined by other stellar bluegrass musicians in the current LRB: Brandon Rickman, Mike Hartgrove, Barry Reed, and Randy Jones. Together they maintain the traditional bluegrass sound LRB fans expect and love. The tight harmonies, fiddle, mandolin, and banjo playing all satisfy the desire for pure roots music, while touches like the jazz-tinged instrumental opening of “Hobo Blues” add a modern touch to the band that keeps it current.
“The Old Man in the Shanty” is a favorite of mine on the CD, because I love storytelling songs. This one is a classic tale of a kid and an outsider who enrich each others’ lives.
All eight songs here are gems, and even though the whole CD is slightly less than 28 minutes long, any bluegrass fan will be satisfied with this first offering, and eager for the next two.