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Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice

Blue Side of the Blue Ridge – 2008 (Rebel)

Reviewed by George Hauenstein

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CDs by Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice

Junior Sisk came to the attention of many bluegrass fans with his work on the "Stanley Gospel Tradition" compilation about a decade ago as well as for his work with his short-lived band, (the original) Ramblers Choice. He later joined the already-established bands Lost and Found and more recently Blue Ridge. When Blue Ridge disbanded, Sisk reformed Ramblers Choice, with a talented collection of musicians, including longtime collaborator, Timmy Massey.

Sisk was born to sing bluegrass, with a lonesome, soulful style that fits the genre so well. The music on the debut falls more on the traditional side of bluegrass (with a contemporary flair), mixing a few old chestnuts, "Dust On The Bible" and "The Wolf Is At The Door," with newer material, including Tom T Hall's, "Leaving Baker County" and Ronnie Bowman's "Little Bit Of This, Little Bit of That" and "Steel Rail Rider." One of the best songs on the record is "I Did The Leaving For You," which really showcases terrific harmony singing.

Ramblers Choice doesn't break any new ground here, but their musical presentation is top-notch all the way around. It's a very enjoyable album, and it's nice to hear Sisk fronting a band again.