The Lonesome Trio, an acoustic group featuring actor Ed Helms with longtime friends Ian Riggs and Jacob Tilove, have set the release of their self-titled debut album for June 16th on Sugar Hill Records, Rolling Stone Country can exclusively report.
Helms — famous for comedic roles in The Office, The Hangover and several other films — plays guitar and banjo, while Riggs is on bass and Tilove plays mandolin. The group met more than 20 years ago while attending Oberlin College in Ohio, and have been writing songs and performing select gigs ever since.
With a unique sound that blends acoustic folk, bluegrass and lovelorn country with warm-hearted, often slyly funny lyrics, the band recorded 12 original songs over two weeks at Echo Mountain studios in Asheville, North Carolina. Sugar Hill President of A&R Gary Paczosa engineered and co-produced the project, and all singing and playing were done by the trio.
“We decided right out of the gate that the three of us needed to do the whole thing,” says Helms. “But we opened the door to lots of additional instruments and layers. The only rule was that we do it ourselves. I’m proud of that. It was more important than any crisp perfection in the execution and I just love it. That’s our spirit. There is no sound on that album that didn’t come from the three of us.”
The Lonesome Trio have previously made high-profile appearances at the Newport Folk Festival, New York City’s Rockwood Music Hall and Los Angeles’ Largo, and will be a part of the Bluegrass Situation Superjam at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival for the third year in a row this June. They will also go on a short tour that month of select cities including Nashville, New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta.
For Helms and his musical partners, The Lonesome Trio project is the chance to share their decades-long friendship and mutual passion for acoustic music.
“We talked through a lot of ideas of what to title it and Jake felt strongly that it should be self-titled,” says Helms. “I was on the fence; I lean toward irony and something cheeky. But I’m glad we settled on self-titled because it’s the most literal, descriptive and accurate name for the album. It’s who we are. It’s a little unrefined in places but it’s unapologetic.”
The Lonesome Trio Tour Dates:
June 4th — Alexandria, Virginia at the Birchmere
June 6th — New York City at Rockwood Music Hall’s Stage Two
June 7th — Nashville’s Third & Lindsley
June 8th — Atlanta’s Terminal West
June 11th — Cambridge, Massachusetts’ Club Passim
June 12th — Chicago’s Space
June 14th — Manchester, Tennessee at Bonnaroo
June 16th — Los Angeles’ Largo at the Coronet