Junior Sisk and Rambler’s Choice at Sugar & Spice

About 50 bluegrass music lovers crowded into the Sugar & Spice dining room to see Junior Sisk and Rambler’s Choice perform two sets of high powered songs. Songs from the recently released Heartaches and Dreams CD dominated the sets. They covered some country, gospel as well as bluegrass tunes.

HVBA was able to grab them on their way from Ohio to Maine for this enjoyable night. The Sisk schedule is a barnstormer with nine September appearances ending in Kentucky. The band’s road race did not dampen their performance. With unbridled enthusiasm and a knack of kidding each other made this a night to remember. To watch them do the bluegrass dance around the one mic was as much fun as listening to the music.

CD Review Flesh And Bone

The new CD by C.B. Smith, Flesh and Bone is excellent. All the songs on the album are C.B.'s compositions.  

C.B. has something to say about life's ups and downs and he expertly creates the rhythm, melody, and words to convey each story.   I was immediately struck by the catchy rhythms he has created, and was amazed that each new cut presented me with another no less appealing than the last.  Rhythmically there are no duds filling up this CD, each cut has a new groove that the band gets into. The core band, The Lucky Devils, is composed of C.B. on guitar, Matt Bowe on mandolin, Andy Bing on Dobro, and Chuck Jacobs on bass.  C.B. does the lead singing but the rest of the band takes turns joining in harmony.  Additionally there are a number of other musicians adding to one or another tracks including Bill Keith (banjo), Leslie Ritter (voice), Jane Scarpantoni (cello), and Fooch Fischetti (fiddle).  

Banjo Anatomy 101

The following article is reprinted with permission from Deering Banjos.

When I give tours here at the factory, I ask our visitors to think of the banjo as a “giant lollipop” because many of them are not banjo players…but we have all eaten our fair share of lollipops.

The neck of the banjo is the “stick” of a lollipop and the pot assembly is the “round, candy portion.” This is not meant to explain FUNCTION, just help with orientation. And like a lollipop, fun with a banjo will last all the way down to the last “lick.” This week’s article is meant to help orient and identify, not explain the function, of the parts of the banjo to make past and future articles more easily understood.

Paul Williams and The Victory Trio: Just A Little Closer Home

If you know the music of Paul Williams, you will know exactly what to expect from any Rebel release featuring Paul Williams and The Victory Trio.  Indeed, Just A Little Closer Home delivers much more than just a few moments of bluegrass gospel bliss.  Even if the name Paul Williams is unfamiliar, bluegrass listeners will already be well acquainted with Mr. Williams through his extensive work with Jimmy Martin.  Williams performed and recorded with Martin’s Sunny Mountain Boys from 1958 to 1962 and appears on many of his most well known recordings, in particular Martin’s earlier gospel recording.

Bethel Woods Bluegrass Jamboree

The music at Bethel Woods was magnificent!  Dubiously advertised as a festival, it was strange attending a festival without anybody bringing instruments and jamming.
Sort of a sophisticated venue to listen to bluegrass with a "pinky out when you sip your beer" environment, Bethel Woods is a truly beautiful venue that was worthy of the stellar bands that presented their absolute best. The performances were further enhanced and compounded with a sound and light system, and the people running it, that made everyone sparkle.  The strange thing was that there was no MC at all!  No MC to rattle off patter between sets, promote the bands, their venue's upcoming events, local clubs and organizations--not even a plug for the local vendors who, like the audience, braved copious amounts of rain drops during this event.  Those rain drops looked innocent enough alone and singular, but they ganged up on everybody at around 3:00pm when the event was starting.

Interview with Junior Sisk


Junior Sisk is determined to be the anchor of tradition in bluegrass music. Spurning over production in his recordings, to sparse down to the instrument simplicity, his recordings are fresh as if the band were playing in your living room.  His clean mountain voice rolls easily through a choice of songs you won’t get tired of.  Junior is appearing at Sugar & Spice, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., sponsored by the Hudson Valley Bluegrass Association for the first time on September 4th.
D:  What will the audience expect when Junior Sisk and Rambler’s Choice perform on Sept 4th?
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