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Single Review: The Edgar Loudermilk Band “The Banks of the River”

The Edgar Loudermilk Band’s new single “The Banks of the River” is the latest turn in Edgar Loudermilk’s musical story. He’s packed several lifetimes so far into a relatively brief career and has amassed an impressive list of credits working alongside some of the biggest names in modern bluegrass. Egged on by the influence of his father and grandfather, Loudermilk began his story learning bass guitar and his rapidly developing chops had him playing in the family band before his tenth birthday. He joined the group Carolina Crossfire when he was twenty years old and later played alongside country and bluegrass singer Marty Raybon – an experience he still considers one of the pivotal musical moments in his life.

URL: https://www.edgarloudermilk.com/

He’s been writing songs for and releasing music under The Edgar Loudermilk Band banner since 2018 and the new single, co-written with mandolin player Zack Autry, continues solidifying his claim as one of the genre’s leading lights. The extended introduction sets the stage for Loudermilk’s clear and soulful bluegrass voice to cut through the mix with the song’s first line. His simple yet eloquent lyrical content is an underrated part of the band’s presentation and “The Banks of the River” does an excellent job of reflecting both traditional imagery as well as conveying a sense of the man behind the songwriting.

 Loudermilk’s bass playing talents continue to provide an irresistible pulse for his work. He’s ably supported, however, by the considerable gifts of Autry, guitarist and harmony singer Jamey Pittman, as well as banjo player Anthony Howell. The band shares an unique telepathy that emerges throughout this performance – they are on the same page from the outset and their focus never wavers. It’s playing that, furthermore, is free from any ego. They work towards a common goal rather than devolving into tension as one musician attempts to steer the spotlight in their direction.

 It’s a short tune. Loudermilk embodies bluegrass tradition in several respects, and one is in his strict avoidance of belaboring his performances past the audience’s breaking point. The Edgar Loudermilk Band gives us just enough of a good thing rather than stretching out “The Banks of the River” past its snapping point. Much of that can be ascribed to pure good sense and innate talent, but they are a road-tested unit as well who are obviously dialed into what their audiences want.

APPLE MUSIC: https://music.apple.com/us/album/the-banks-of-the-river-single/1714873787

 Songs such as this are deceptively simple. They are, in essence, personal diary entries set to music and never risk obscurity. Instead, they connect with listeners on their level rather than imposing needless demands on the audience. The Edgar Loudermilk Band understand full well the traditions that make bluegrass what it is and yet they imbue the form with the stamp of their collective spirit. It points the way towards an ever bright future for the genre rather than miring it in a glorious but increasingly distant past. “The Banks of the River” is more than just an entertaining romp – it’s a peek into what makes Edgar Loudermilk and his bandmates tick. 

Loren Sperry

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