Actor Ed Helms is known for his roles in NBC’s The Office and the popular Hangover films, but his other life-long passion is performing bluegrass music.
Helms, bassist Ian Riggs and mandolinist Jacob Tilove make up the Lonesome Trio, a bluegrass band that have been performing together in some capacity since the early 90s. The three met as students at Oberlin College and Conservatory and continued to play music together even as each member attempted to build separate careers.
“We were always doing our own things,” Helms told the Washington Post. “That’s why we never took the music that seriously. Life was always going on, but the music kept turning and kept going.”
In recent years, as Helms gained popularity for his acting roles, the three continued to cultivate their own sound.
“We started playing a lot more over the last six or seven years and playing with some really great players,” Helms says. The trio has collaborated with the Avett Brothers, Del McCoury, the Punch Brothers. When Helms heard the tape of the Punch Brothers’ cover one of his own songs during a recording session, he realized it was time for them to take the next step as a band. “Getting their support kind of put it over the top for us, gave us a little more confidence.”
Five years after Helms had that light-bulb moment, the trio are preparing for the release of their first full-length album. They are hitting the road in support of the record, and Helms says he and the band hope to tour more in the future.
“Time does not permit very often and this was actually really hard to carve out, but we had to do it and I can’t wait.”
The Lonesome Trio’s debut, self-titled album will be released on June 16. You can find their upcoming tour schedule at their official website.