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Blue Side of the Blue Ridge
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  • After cutting one album during the 1990s, Rambler's Choice disbanded, and the members went their separate ways. Lead vocalist/guitarist Junior Sisk worked with both Lost & Found and Blueridge, while bassist/singer Tim Massey worked in a variety of bands. Now, some ten years later, Sisk and Massey have put the group back together (apparently minus the apostrophe in "Rambler's Choice") with mandolinist Chris Harris, fiddler Billy Hawks, and banjoist Darrell Wilkerson. While writer Jon Weisberger places Ramblers Choice's music somewhere between the new and old in the liner notes, Sisk's vocal is clearly old school, harking back to Bill Monroe country-tinged nasal. Having said this, the material does mix old and new, drawing from gospel, country, and contemporary sources, with songs about dust on the family Bible, broken love affairs, and making a living by making moonshine. The opener, "The Wolf Is at the Door," is a wry, uptempo number with some fine harmony work on the choruses, while the spry "Steel Rail Rider" brings the album to a joyful close. Ramblers Choice play well as a unit, focusing on the integrity of each song, and keeping the arrangements simple. The production by Ronnie Bowman (who penned or co-penned several of the album's songs) is likewise straightforward. With Blue Side of the Blue Ridge, Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice have delivered a solid album that leans toward tradition. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
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