“Poor Boy’s Pleasure” by Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice

Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice
Poor Boy’s Pleasure
Mountain Fever Records
4½ stars (out of 5)

By Larry Stephens

Junior Sisk does bluegrss with passion and drive. Listen to “Hang a Wreath On My Door,” a Bill Castle/Don Rigsby composition—love gone wrong, sadness and loneliness, good bluegrass. Then he touches on 1958 when JD Crowe and Paul Willams were with Jimmy Martin with a Tim Stafford/Barry Bales number, “Jimmy, JD and Paul.” That was quite a lineup and Williams himself returns to sing tenor on this track. I don’t know if Stafford and Bales based this on imagination or personal experience, but it’s a dead-on story of a kid falling in love with bluegrass after hearing some of the masters play.

“Cold In Carolina” is another lost love song. It’s kicked off by Jamie Harper on fiddle. Harper is a presence on all the tracks, playing good fiddle. Sisk includes a good gospel number from his father’s (Harry Sisk, Sr.) pen: “What About Me, Lord?” This is an interesting arrangement and includes guest Aaron Ramsey on bass, guitar and vocals. It starts with just the guitar and a mandolin chop and then the bass comes in on the third chorus to add contrast.

Sisk takes a turn at composing, sharing the credits for the title song, “Poor Boy’s Pleasure.” It’s a number about growing up country, hunting, a little mountain dew and, of course, some picking. The CD artwork is modeled after this song and you can picture Sisk growing up just as the song describes.

“In This World But Not Of It” isn’t your typical gospel number. It tells of a man who is living life the best he can in a sinful world—that’s a pretty good description of most believers. In addition to Harper on the fiddle, Kameron Keller plays bass, Jonathan Dillon is on mandolin and vocals and you’ll hear some good mandolin breaks throughout the CD. Jason Davis (banjo) rounds out the group and, as we expect with top-caliber bands, he does an excellent job.

Sisk offers a variety of tunes and that keeps listeners interested. He tears the label off the CD with “Lonnie Ray” then tells a story of a broken heart being soothed with a few rounds of “Longneck Blues,” trading off on lead vocals with Ronnie Bowman He then goes to the mountains, “Walking In The Blueridge,” a number co-composed by Milan Miller. He closes out by reaching back in time for a Flatt & Scruggs’ number, “Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow.” Junior Sisk plays—and, more importantly, sings— bluegrass the way traditional fans like it, and he’s one of the best on the road today. “Poor Boy’s Pleasure” is definitely that for bluegrass lovers.