Lonesome River Band, The


  • From Ferrum, Virginia.
  • Formed in 1983 by Tim Austin and Jerry McMillan. Current and former members of the band include Adam Steffey, Dan Tyminski, Dale Perry, Kenny Smith, Ricky Simpkons, Sammy Shelor, Ronnie Bowman, Don Rigsby, Darrell Webb, Jeff Parker and Brandon Rickman.
  • 1995, founding member Tim Austin (guitar) left the band to develop his own recording studio and label, Doobie Shea Records. He is a top sound engineer for the Grand Ole Opry and touring country music shows.
  • 1996 line-up: Ronnie Bowman (bass, lead vocals), Sammy Shelor (banjo), Kenny Smith (guitar), Don Rigsby (mandolin).
  • 1998, all four members of the band won IBMA awards: Bowman (Male Vocalist), Shelor (Banjo Player), Smith (Guitar Player), and Rigsby (Recorded Event, Song of the Year for his work with “Longview”).
  • 2000, Ricky Simpkins joined the band.
  • 2001, Bowman, Smith, Rigsby and Simpkins departed en masse. Shelor acquired the band name and re-organized the group with new members: Brandon Rickman (guitar), Jeff Parker (mandolin), Barry Berrier (bass) and Mike Hartgrove (fiddle). Irl Hees soon replaced Berrier.
  • 2011, Shelor received the Steve Martin prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass.
  • 2012, won the IBMA Award for Instrumental Recording of the Year (for “Angeline the Baker” from Life Goes On album featuring various artists (Musicians Against Childhood Cancer).
  • 2012, Shelor won the IBMA Award for Banjo Player of the Year.
  • 2014 lineup: Shelor (banjo), Rickman (guitar), Hartgrove (fiddle), Barry Reed (bass) and Randy Jones (mandolin.)
  • 2015, Jesse Smathers (mandolin) joined the group, replacing Randy Jones.
  • 2017, Smathers won the IBMA Momentum Award for Vocalist of the Year.
  • 2021, Brandon Rickman (guitar) departed and was replaced by Adam Miller (mandolin). Smathers switched from mandolin to guitar. Also, Barry Reed (bass) was replaced by Kameron Keller.