The Lonesome River Band is scheduled to take the stage at the Historic Earle Theatre Friday night as part of the Blue Ridge and Beyond Series.
Since its formation 34 years ago, Lonesome River Band has become one of the most respected names in bluegrass music. Since the release of their breakout album, “Carrying the Tradition,” Lonesome River Band has been one of the most popular and influential acts on the bluegrass festival and concert circuit, according to information released by the Surry Arts Council.
]The band’s latest album, “Bridging the Tradition,” debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s bluegrass album chart last year. With Sammy Shelor leading, two stellar lead vocalists, Brandon Rickman and the newest member Jesse Smathers, and the impressive talents of Mike Hartgrove and Barry Reed, the band seamlessly comes together, performing the trademark sound that fans continue to embrace.
When Shelor joined Lonesome River Band in 1990, he never envisioned himself leading the band ten years later. A five-time International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Banjo Player of the Year, Shelor began playing at the age of four. By the age of 10, Shelor was performing in local bands and when he graduated from high school, he became a full-time professional musician.
Shelor has received multiple awards over his career including Banjo Player of the Year from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) five times, Banjo Performer of the Year from the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America three times, the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass in 2011, and induction into the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009.
Brandon Rickman (guitar and vocals) is now in his second stint with Lonesome River Band. Rickman grew up playing guitar in his musical family, but picked up the upright bass just hours before playing his first show as a member of the esteemed bluegrass gospel group New Tradition. A songwriter as well, Rickman has contributed many songs to Lonesome River Band’s albums as well as recording Young Man Old Soul on his own in 2009.
Mike Hartgrove is one of the most experienced fiddlers in bluegrass music, having spent time with The Bluegrass Cardinals and Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. He was also a founding member of IIIrd Tyme Out, with whom he toured and recorded for 11 years before joining Lonesome River Band in 2002.
Jesse Smathers comes from a long line of musicians and begin playing guitar at age 11 and mandolin at age 15. In 2009 he won the guitar championship of the Virginia Folk Music Association. The following year, he began his career as a touring musician with the James King Band playing mandolin. In 2013, High Voltage, featuring Smathers as lead vocalist, won first place in the bluegrass band category at the Galax Old Time Fiddler’s Convention.
Barry Reed joined Lonesome River Band in 2010 on upright bass. He had previously worked with Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper.
The concert will begin at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $25 preferred, $20 orchestra, and $15 balcony (general admission) and can be purchased online at www.surryarts.org or by phone (336-786-7998).