The only change will be in the scenery when Lonesome River Band hits Lexington stage

Contributing Music WriterJune 6, 2014 

The current Lonesome River Band lineup consists of Barry Reed, left; bass, Brandon Rickman, guitar; Sammy Shelor, banjo; Mike Hartgrove, fiddle; and Strunk native Randy Jones, mandolin.



    Festival of the Bluegrass

    When: June 12-15

    Where: Kentucky Horse Park Campground, 4089 Iron Works Pkwy.

    Tickets: Four days: $110, $120 with primitive camping, $40 ages 13-17 including camping, free ages 12 and younger. One day: $25 June 12, $45 June 13, $50 June 14, $10 June 15. Available at

    Learn more: (859) 253-0806


    Most days also include workshops and all-ages activities.

    June 12

    ■ Main stage: 7:40 p.m., Custom Made Bluegrass. 8:30, Barefoot Movement. 9:20, Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen. 10, Mountain Heart.

    June 13

    ■ Main stage: 1 p.m., Stone Cold Grass. 1:50 and 7:40, Big Country Bluegrass. 2:40, Moron Brothers. 3:30 and 8:30, Claire Lynch Band. 4:20 and 10:50, IIIrd Tyme Out. 5:10 and 9:20, Michael Cleveland. 6 and 10, Gibson Brothers. 7:40, Big Country Bluegrass.

    ■ Second stage: 5 p.m., Stone Cold Grass. 5:50, Empty Bottle String Band. 6:45, Custom Made Bluegrass.

    June 14

    ■ Main stage: 1 p.m., NewTown. 1:50 and 8:30, Detour. 2:40 and 10, Grascals. 3:30 and 7:40, Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers. 4:20 and 9:20, 23-String Band. 5:10 and 10:50, Seldom Scene. 6, Dry Branch Fire Squad.

    ■ Second stage: 3:50 p.m., Kentucky Blue Belles. 5, Moron Brothers. 5:50, Empty Bottle String Band. 6:45, NewTown.

    June 15

    ■ Second stage: 10 a.m., Kentucky Blue. 10:40, Dry Branch Fire Squad.


    Best of Bluegrass

    When: June 9-12

    Where: Various venues in Lexington

    Learn more:


    WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour: Special Consensus. 6:45 p.m. June 9. Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center, 300 E. Third St. $10. (859) 252-8888.

    Lonesome River Band, Town Mountain. 8 p.m. June 9. Natasha's Bistro, 112 Esplanade. Free. (859) 259-2754.

    The Roys. 8 p.m. June 10. Willie's Locally Known, 805 N. Broadway. Free. (859) 281-1116.

    Blind Ricky. 8 p.m. June 10. Al's Bar, 601 N. Limestone. Free. (859) 309-2901.

    Southland Jamboree: Newtown. 7 p.m. June 10. Outside Collins Bowling Center, 205 Southland Dr. Free. (859) 276-4692.

    Steep Canyon Rangers. 9 p.m. June 11. Paulie's Toasted Barrel, 517 W. Main. St. Free. (859) 327-3333.

    Larry Cordle. 8 p.m. June 11. Parlay Social, 257 W. Short. Free. (859) 244-1932.

    Red Barn Radio: Misty Mountain String Band. 7 p.m. June 11. ArtsPlace, 161 N. Mill St. Free.

    Thursday Night Live: Dale Ann Bradley. 5:30 p.m. June 12. Cheapside Park, Cheapside and Main St. Free.

    Stone Cold Grass. 8 p.m. June 12. Parlay Social. Free.

    Bartley Brothers. 8 p.m. June 12. Redmon's, 269 W. Main St. Free. (859) 252-5802.

Among the traditions forged by the Festival of the Bluegrass has been an annual visit by Lonesome River Band.

Newer acts have been added to the festival, especially in recent years. But patrons have been able to count on the longstanding LRB — still with four-time International Bluegrass Music Association Banjo Player of the Year Sammy Shelor at the helm — being part the lineup for more than two decades.

They could, that is, until this year. But fear not, Lonesome River Band fans. Shelor and company will be in Lexington this week. Their pal BoB is seeing to that.

"It has ended up for us that every two or three years we do this festival for the California Bluegrass Association," Shelor said. "This year, everything happened to fall on the same weekend. We didn't realize that included Lexington."

So LRB will be doing a sold-out show in Carlsbad, Calif., at the Museum of Making Music just as the Festival of the Bluegrass gets underway this weekend at the Kentucky Horse Park. But before heading west, the group will help kick off the second annual Best of Bluegrass celebration Monday at Natasha's with a free performance that also includes the popular new-generation string music troupe Town Mountain.

"This California festival is a great opportunity for the band," said Festival of the Bluegrass producer and organizer Roy Cornett. "At the same time, I knew there was going to be a large segment of my audience that was going to be disappointed. But I'm also on the programming committee for BoB, so the first act that came to mind for that was Lonesome River Band. Getting them here kind of solves the problem. They can do the BoB show earlier in the week, and people from the festival can still get their LRB fix."

Shelor said, "We're very glad we're still coming up there because we love the Lexington crowds. They're real energetic and just lots of fun to play to. So we're hoping to get some of that Festival of the Bluegrass crowd there on a Monday night."

Local bluegrass fans are likely versed in LRB's music thanks to 30 years of albums that culminated with the three-volume Chronology. Each edition offered new recordings of tunes cut by the band throughout its history but performed by the current LBR lineup: Shelor, guitarist Brandon Rickman, fiddler Mike Hartgrove, bassist Barry Reed and mandolinist and Strunk native Randy Jones.

Shelor said the band also completed a new album two weeks ago for release in the fall. He said the results might surprise a few fans.

"Some of it is more old timey-leaning," he said. "But then we added percussion to it. We had this incredible percussion player, Tony Creasman, come in. He's a studio musician I've known for 20-some odd years. He knows how to play our music and not get in the way, but he still manages to make it bigger sounding. So we're just trying a few little different twists."

The song list includes four co-written by Rickman — including one with Lee Roy of The Roys, which plays a BoB show Tuesday at Willie's Locally Known — covers of Merle Haggard's Shelly's Winter Love, which the band based on a vintage arrangement by the Osborne Brothers, and Earl Scruggs' Cumberland Gap.

"We tried a few different things to see if it piques people's interest," Shelor said. "But it's still a Lonesome River Band record. Any time we do a record, we're going to sound like us."

Read Walter Tunis' blog, The Musical Box, at

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