We caught up with Junior Sisk this afternoon, in between a run out to Missouri this past weekend, and one this coming up to Ontario in Canada. He’s out in support of his most recent album, Brand New Shade Of Blue on Mountain Fever, and tells us that everywhere he performs, people come up and ask him what he’s going to be doing next year.
The album has been doing well on our Bluegrass Today Weekly Airplay Chart, currently at #2 and moving upwards, and selling well wherever he plays. But people seem to have gathered the impression that Sisk is retiring, or getting off the road.
He says that he hears it from fans who come up to the table at festivals, and from promoters he speaks to on the phone. “I talked to a promoter the other day for a festival I’ve played every year for more than a decade, and they asked me the same thing,’What are you doing next year?’ ”
It all got started when Sisk announced at the beginning of this year that he would be retiring the band name he had used this past ten years, Ramblers Choice, and pursuing a different musical direction. What maybe wasn’t clear at the time is that he meant he would be continuing to tour under his own name, and returning to a more traditional sound based on the earliest days of bluegrass music.
A lot of you might read that and think, “more traditional?” Junior Sisk has been a beacon for the old time style of mountain music even since he first hit the scene. How could he get more traditional?
But what he has in mind is a return to the type of vintage stage presentation from the old days, the string ties and stylish hats, along with some old songs that haven’t been sung in public much in recent years.
The new album is a good demonstration of the music he will continue to record and do live at shows. Driving, hard-hitting bluegrass with the sort of mournful singing that Junior has used as his calling card for more than twenty years. It just won’t be called Rambler’s Choice.
A couple of his old Ramblers Choice bandmates left early this year to join up with three former members of The Boxcars to create Highland Travelers. So Junior has replaced them with new faces, and will continue on playing heartfelt traditional bluegrass into the foreseeable future. He told us, “I figure I’ve got close to a good ten more years of this in me, and I look forward to seeing all my friends at the festivals this year, and in years to come.”
You can track his busy tour schedule online, where he is booked pretty much solid through the next few months.
Junior books himself these days, and he’s easy to reach online if you want to plan on having him for a show in 2019 – or 2020!
As he told me on the phone, “I ain’t going anywhere!”