5-time IBMA Banjo Player of the Year, 2011 recipient of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo & Bluegrass, and leader of Lonesome River Band
When Sammy Shelor joined Lonesome River Band in 1990, he never envisioned himself leading the band only ten years later. Fresh off a six year stint with the popular Virginia Squires, Sammy came on board along with Ronnie Bowman and before long, had recorded the landmark LRB album, Carrying The Tradition with Dan Tyminski and Tim Austin. This recording quickly moved the group to headliner status, where they have remained ever since. When founder Tim Austin left in 1995 to focus on his studio, Sammy and Ronnie Bowman took over band management, and when Ronnie left in 2001, Sammy found himself in charge, leading the band that had hired him ten years earlier.
Through changes in vocalists and rhythm sections, the constant in the wildly popular LRB sound has been Shelor’s insistent, driving banjo style. His peers in the International Bluegrass Music Association have voted him Banjo Player Of The Year on five separate occasions, and banjo pickers all over the world have studied Sammy’s tab books and instructional DVD from AcuTab.
Sammy got an early start with the banjo, when his grandfather fashioned him a banjo from an old pressure cooker lid when Sam was only four years old. His other grandfather then issued a challenge, promising to buy him a real banjo if the young Shelor would learn to play two songs. Sammy met that mark in short order, and with the help of a family devoted both to him and to bluegrass music, he soon found himself entered in contests at fiddler’s conventions near his home in southwestern VA.
Lonesome River Band
Since its formation decades ago, Lonesome River Band continues its reputation as one of the most respected names in Bluegrass music. Five-time International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Banjo Player of the Year, and winner of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass, Sammy Shelor leads the group that is constantly breaking new ground in Acoustic music. With two stellar lead vocalists, Brandon Rickman (guitar) and Jesse Smathers (mandolin), with impressive talents of Mike Hartgrove (fiddle) and Barry Reed (bass), the band seamlessly comes together, performing the trademark sound that fans continue to embrace.
For more information about LRB, tour dates, more music, and merchandise, visit their official site:
LRB on the red carpet at the 2016 IBMA Awards
Performing on SiriusXM's Bluegrass Junction with Lonesome River Band in 2019