The Band Of Ruhks (Ronnie Bowman, bass and lead vocals; Don Rigsby, mandolin and lead/tenor vocals; Kenny Smith, guitar and baritone vocals, and Brian Fesler, banjo) are some of the brightest talents performing bluegrass for the last 30 years. Anybody familiar with the history of the Lonesome River Band is aware that three of these musicians wrote, played, and performed on many LRB albums in the 1990s and early 2000s. Even banjo player Brian Fesler was an alumnus of the LRB, although it was prior to Bowman, Rigsby, and Smith joining the band.
Authentic is the second release for the Band Of Ruhks. Unlike the first album, which featured Bowman singing lead on almost all of the songs, Authenticalternates lead vocals between Bowman and Rigsby throughout the album. All but two of the album’s twelve tracks are written or co-written by the band members. For fans of Kenny Smith’s guitar playing, he offers a great guitar driven instrumental entitled “B N Me.” Aubrey Haynie provides outstanding fiddle work on most tracks, and Rob Ickes adds the perfect resonator guitar accompaniment to “If You Wanna Know My Name.” Ben Isaacs, who produced this album, plays the acoustic bass on all tracks, providing a bit more of a more traditional feel than when Bowman plays electric bass.
These musicians know what they want to say and have the skills to shape each song with vocals, specific instrumentation, and arrangements. The songwriting, music production, vocals, and instrumental work on this album are all topnotch. In lieu of trying to describe the various songs, suffice it to say that if you can envision further maturing of the LRB sound of 1990-2004 to today, you will love this album. (Rebel Records, P.O. Box 7405, Charlottesville, VA 22906, www.rebelrecords.com.)TK