Few bluegrass groups have been around for forty years, and even fewer have been more popular, more widely admired, or more influential for as long as the Lonesome River Band.
By the early 1990s, Lonesome River Band were winning key awards and topping the charts, and while members have come and gone, the quintet’s reputation for crafting essential, archetypal bluegrass has only grown with each passing year. Now, the bluegrass powerhouse is releasing Heyday, surrounding four hit singles with a set of songs that serves both to introduce new members and to extend the group’s influential legacy still further.
Leading off the project is the band's first single, and first #1 of 2022, “Mary Ann Is A Pistol,” sung by new member Adam Miller, sharing lead vocal duties with veteran mandolinist-turned- guitar player Jesse Smathers. The lineup is rounded out by award-winning banjo player and bandleader Sammy Shelor, iconic fiddle player Mike Hartgrove, and new bassist Kameron Keller, and blends to perfection the group’s signature “bluegrass with a rock ’n’ roll attitude” sound with fresh energy and new influences.
The result is a collection that leans strongly toward new songs. The only covers here are banjo legend Jimmy Arnold’s retelling of “Jesse James.” and Jim & Jesse’s homespun “Tell Her Lies And Feed Her Candy.” The new songs offer vivid sketches encompassing nostalgia (“Heyday”), wry looks at love (“Love Songs”), old-timey romps (“Come On Down From The Mountain Top”), stern apocalyptic warnings (“Gabriel’s Already Standing”) and, of course, plenty of heartbreak and ramblin’ (“Waitin’ On A Train,” “Bye Bye Love,” “Headed North”).
Lonesome River Band may be reaching middle age, but Heyday is here to say that, in some ways, they’re just getting started.