Is there any better singer in bluegrass today than Junior Sisk? When he’s at his best, maybe not.
But even when he’s not at his best, he’s very, very good.
Tuesday night was one of those times when Junior wasn’t at his best, at least according to Junior himself, but you’d have a hard time convincing the full house at his after-hours showcase and live radio broadcast for WAMU’s Bluegrass Country.
“I can do better than that, and you know it,” he told me after the set with his band, Rambler’s Choice. The problem, he said, was that he had to oversing at performances earlier in the day because the band wasn’t wearing their in-ear monitors and he couldn’t hear himself without belting out the words.
When he spoke, it was clear his voice was stressed. But when he stepped up to the microphone, all seemed fine as he ripped through a set that included Working Hard Ain’t Hardly Working Anymore, Who Done It, Don’t Fall in Love With Me Little Darlin’ and A Far Cry From Lester and Earl. Junior co-wrote that last song, saying he added the third verse while sitting in a deer stand. He didn’t get a deer that day, he said. “But I did get a pretty good song.”
The best performance came on Another Man’s Arms, which was written by Russell Johnson, who just happened to be in the audience. Junior described it as “the perfect bluegrass song,” given that it deals with cheating, prison and “a little bit of killing.”
And then Junior just killed it.