Some things have a magic all their own. The musical collaboration between Ronnie Bowman, Don Rigsby and Kenny Smith is one of these things. These three men made music together in the 1990’s as members of The Lonesome River Band. Their work there was critically acclaimed and during the apex of the group’s popularity. In 2001, each of them embarked on their own personal musical journeys that led to new heights and influences.
Ronnie Bowman has long been regarded as one of Bluegrass music’s finest singers and songwriters. With a string of awards (IBMA and SPGBMA Male Vocalist of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year, etc.) and numerous nominations and accolades, his resume is outstanding to say the least. He has written #1 hits for country artists and led his own band The Committee for years. In addition to this, he performs regularly with The Likely Culprits in Nashville and tours with Lee Ann Womack as well as his old singing partner Dan Tyminski. Considered a formidable music producer, he can often be found behind the mixing console in the studio at the helm of various recording sessions. Busy? Yes.
Don Rigsby became the first full-time director of the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music in 2001. He remained in that position for 8 years. During that time he formed his own band Midnight Call and toured the US and overseas too. As a charter member of the super group Longview he always has kept his strong love for old school Bluegrass music in the front of his musical conscience too. Rigsby is also an acclaimed music producer, session musician and teacher. He is a sought after session vocalist and has provided harmony vocals on such projects as Alan Jackson’s “Bluegrass Album” (Along with Ronnie Bowman), James King’s “Three Chords and the Truth” and Peter Rowan’s “Old School”, to name some recent examples. Busy? Oh yes.
Kenny Smith formed a band with his wife Amanda Smith and immediately found success. The duo captured the IBMA Emerging Artist of the Year award their first year of existence. Since that time, they have embarked on a remarkable journey of love and music that has led them all over the world. Smith is regarded as being a true original guitar stylist. Kenny is a two-time winner of IBMA Guitar Player of the Year and has been nominated multiple times. He combines elements from many of his musical mentors, but is completely unique. He is called for his expertise in the studio and as a guitar instructor and has various instructional materials that showcase his unique style and mastery of his instrument. He teaches regularly at scores of camps. His recent project “The Return” was a follow-up to his classic solo project “Studebaker”. He continues to perform with Amanda as a duet in concerts and at festivals all across America. Awarded? Yes. Busy? You bet.
Flash forward to 2010. Following a Lonesome River Band reunion performance, these gentlemen began to explore the possibility of making music together again. They too realized the significance of their past works, but were itching to make new music together. Out of this desire and their longstanding friendship and mutual admiration, Band of Ruhks was born. Bowman, Rigsby and Smith are excited for what the future has in store for this new band.
Their debut album, Bowman, Rigsby & Smith, released by 101 Ranch Records, features songs from the pens of such writers as Mark Collie, Chris Stapleton, Harley Allen, and of course Ronnie Bowman himself. The first single, “Coal Mining Man”, is a writing collaboration of Bowman and Mark Collie. It features a cameo from the iconic Dr. Ralph Stanley. Rigsby says,” I have known Ralph since I was a child and he is a life-long friend. I am thrilled to have him here with us and as always, he nailed it. Nobody else sounds like him.” The project offers something for everyone from the most prolific Bluegrass aficionado to country music fans to adult contemporary listeners and all points in between.