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MARK JOHNSON & EMORY LESTER "Acoustic Rising" MH-11002-CD

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After just a couple of days this CD has become one of my favorites of the past year or so, and it made me get out 2 other fine albums that Johnson has been involved with in the past (one of them out of print, unfortunately). Johnson is a Floridian who plays clawhammer banjo with a very nice touch and fine choice of notes. Though he plays his share of old time tunes, he also adapts his stylings to Bluegrass and comes up with some neat contemporary material that works beautifully in this setting, which is essentially Johnson's banjo and the mandolin or guitar picking of Emory Lester. The album is mostly instrumental, but there are four very nice vocals by Lester, who sounds an awful lot like the late Larry Rice here on GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY, DENBRAE, ASHFIELDS & BRINE and David Norris' lovely song TIMBERLINE). There's obviously a strong Larry Rice connection here, as the notes were written by Larry shortly before his passing earlier in 2006. This is a very different sound, but extremely musical & tastefully done, and it should appeal to anyone who loves banjo sounds. (Johnson's earlier album, BANG-2, ACOUSTIC CAMPAIGN, $ 13.99, is still available and likewise recommended). Wonderful versions of COLD CREEK MARCH, KATIE WEEKS, BIG SCIOTA, MONROE'S HORNPIPE and JOHN WILKES BOOTH.