Lonesome River Band - The Winning Hand
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The Winning Hand (Mountain Home, 2024)

Lonesome River Band

Reviewed by George Hauenstein

The Lonesome River Band has been around since the early '80s with such alumni as Dan Tyminski, Ronnie Bowman, Don Rigsby and Adam Steffey. Current band leader and banjo wizard, Sammy Shelor joined the band in 1990 and has kept the LRB going through numerous personnel changes.

The LRB has always been known for Shelor's banjo work, as well as outstanding vocals and vocal harmony. All of these things and more are on display on "The Winning Hand."

The current LRB also includes, vocals, Mike Hartgrove on fiddle, Kameron Keller on bass, Jesse Smathers on mandolin and Adam Miller on guitar.

A hallmark of the band over the years, regardless of personnel, is tight and distinctive lead and harmony vocals. That is certainly true here. Smathers and Miller trade lead vocals throughout, but the real treat is how their voices blend so well, as evidenced on "A Happy Song," "Near Mrs" (a clever bit of wordplay), "Charlottesville," "Oh, Darlin'" and "That's Why Trains are Lonesome."

Shelor and Hartgrove provide the instrumental engine here. Whether tearing it up on 'Tom and Jerry,' and 'Brown Hill,' or providing tasteful support on the vocal tunes, there are few better at their respective instruments.

This is a superb album. Fans were dealt "The Winning Hand" here.

CDs by Lonesome River Band

The Winning Hand, 2024 Mayhayley's House, 2017 Bridging the Tradition, 2016 Turn on a Dime, 2014 No Turning Back, 2008 The Road With No End, 2006

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