Lonesome River Band
As the legendary Lonesome River Band heads toward its 40th anniversary, the band is paying homage to another great musical legacy with a full-length tribute by one working band honoring another working band from days gone by. Singing Up There: A Tribute to the Easter Brothers is out now from Mountain Home Music Company.
Bluegrass songs about bluegrass seem to be turning up everywhere these days, but while there are plenty of single songs name-checking the music’s pioneers and all-star collaborative albums honoring generational legacies, a full-length tribute by one working band honoring another working band from days gone by is still a rarity.
Though they’re acclaimed as masters of contemporary bluegrass, the Lonesome River Band issue a reminder of their long-standing appreciation for old-time string band music with a new Mountain Home Music Company single, “Cumberland River Shore.” And though it’s not about him, the song, from its writing to recording, is suffused with the spirit and sound of the late and legendary John Hartford.
The latest single from Bluegrass at the Crossroads, the innovative collaborative project featuring artists drawn mostly from the rosters of Mountain Home Music Company and Organic Records, presents the series’ second ensemble, first heard on the January bluegrass gospel release, “Lift Your Voice, Bow Your Head.” Serving as a musical meeting ground for musicians working in a broad range of bluegrass styles, “On The Lonesome Breeze” showcases rich creativity, deep skills — and a lot of musical muscle, too.
In the wake of “Love Songs,” their most recent bluegrass single, the iconic Lonesome River Band offers an energetic reminder that it is not only one of the best interpreters of secular bluegrass, but of bluegrass gospel, too. “Little At A Time,” from the collective pen of the legendary Easter Brothers, is a muscular affirmation of faith and perseverance married to what aficionados will immediately recognize as the quintet’s signature groove.
Though it’s known as a genre filled with sad, lonesome songs — "plumb pitiful" is a phrase often heard — it’s nonetheless true that bluegrass music, like classic country, has room for the occasional wry, self-deprecating song about lost love, too.
After nearly four decades, the award-winning Lonesome River Band can look back at a career filled with hits that have become as firmly entrenched in the bluegrass parking lot pickers’ songbook as any first generation classic. And though many of its members have long since gone on to other ventures, the band’s quintessential musical hallmarks — hard-grooving rhythm, sparkling banjo, distinctive leads and smooth, yet muscular harmonies — have not just survived but matured, and always in service of the song.