Junior Sisk has been on the bluegrass scene for over 30 years and is well known for his straight-ahead traditional bluegrass. Load The Wagon is the first album branded specifically under Junior Sisk’s name and utilizes his current band (since the dissolution of Rambler’s Choice). Vocals are provided by Sisk and the husband-wife team of Tony Mabe and Heather Berry Mabe. This trio provides a very solid and polished sound.
Vocal highlights on this album include Sisk’s reprise of “He Died A Rounder At 21,” “Lily Dale,” “Best Female Actress Of The Year,” and Heather Mabe’s rendition of “Lover’s Farewell.” Sisk has also put together an excellent instrumental band. Tony Mabe’s banjo is excellent. He plays wonderful clawhammer banjo on the album’s title-track and plays exactly what is needed for each song. His banjo backup on “I’m Lonesome And Blue” is very Scruggs-esque and sounds great. Mandolinist Jonathan Dillon is the only bandmember that was in Rambler’s Choice. His mandolin playing, much in the style of Adam Steffey, is particularly ear-catching on “Hooked On Bluegrass” and “Just Load The Wagon.” Fiddler Doug Bartlett provides the perfect traditional fiddle stylings for each song through his kickoffs, solos, and backup. Gary Creed provides a simple, but solid, underpinning for all songs on the bass.
Junior Sisk has assembled an excellent band of instrumentalists and vocalists and selected material that fits his style and approach to bluegrass. This is a solid and enjoyable album. (Mountain Fever Records, 1177 Alum Ridge Rd. NW, Willis, VA 24380, www.mountainfever.com)TK