Legendary bluegrass band Lonesome River Band (LRB) are celebrating their 40th anniversary by paying tribute to one of Gospel music's most enduring band the Easter Brothers. On July 23, LRB will be releasing Singing Up There: A Tribute to the Easter Brothers. The current line-up of LRB - Shelor, fiddler Mike Hartgrove, singers Brandon Rickman (guitar), Jesse Smathers (mandolin) and bassist Barry Reed -- all grew up listening to the Easter Brothers.
The new album is preceded by the lead single "Every minute Means a Mile." It will also feature the Southern Gospel-flavored "Standing On The Banks," mountain-flavored meditations like the classic "Lord, I'm Just A Branch," and the more recent "Little At A Time" - this version already a hit single for LRB - and more, each showing a different facet of the Brothers' catalog and sound, delivered by musicians for whom this sound and these songs are almost second nature.
Q: Thanks for doing this interview with us. Why did you decide to release a bluegrass gospel album?
Gospel music has always been important to me and where I have found much inspiration for my faith in Jesus Christ. It has been on my list of things to get done for a long time and finally came to pass.
Q: Tell us about some of the gospel music veterans that have helped shaped your music while growing up.
I have loved the music of The Primitive Quartet, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, The Bishops, The Easter Brothers, The Forbes Family, and many Southern Gospel artists through the years
Q: Why did you choose to pay tribute to the Easter Brothers?
The Easter Brothers were based out of Mount Airy NC, just across the state line from Meadows of Dan and Stuart Va, the 2 communities I grew up in. Ed Easter had a music store in Stuart when I was young and learning how to play banjo. I could walk to the store from my home and I would spend time there trying to learn what I could from the players who would frequent the store.Their music and vocal blend had a huge impact on my early years of learning and their song writing style was always my favorite.The 3 part harmonies fit Lonesome River Band's vocal stylings so it was an obvious choice for us.
Q: Easter Brothers have such a vast catalog, how did you narrow the songs you want to record?
We went through over 500 songs to pick what we did on this project. It was a very hard process to narrow it down to 10. There are still many great songs left to possibly do more in the future.
Q: How did you try to inject your own sound into these songs rather than copying the originals?
We have been in the business for almost 40 years on the Bluegrass side of things. We are kind of set with a certain instrumental style of playing melody oriented tracks and we stuck to that in creating our versions of these songs.
Q: What were some of the highlights in the making this album?
The highlight of all of this is the crowd responses while doing these songs live. These are songs written for the common person to understand and we see that in our audience.
Q: Are there any other gospel artists you would like to tribute to in the future?
We have not made any plans at this time for future projects but we may look at doing a Volume 2 and maybe 3 of Easter Brothers songs.The catalog is vast and so much more great music there to be done.
Q: Talk to us about your faith and what Jesus means to you.
I would have nothing without the blessings of Jesus Christ. My God Given talent has been my focus for the past 50 years and without his guidance I would be lost. Even though I have strayed many times, he has shown his everlasting forgiveness and kept me here to continue to do what I love.