I am always delighted and excited to see a new album from Mark Johnson, and this new 12-tune, all instrumental album is fast becoming one of my all-time favorites. There is a general civil war theme to this record, with tunes from that era in American history that either have direct roots in that event or were likely popular at that time. These include MARCHING THROUGH GEORGIA, HARD TIMES, BLOCKADE RUNNER AT CEDAR KEY, MOSBY'S RANGERS, and a lovely version of SHENANDOAH. (A tune entitled WAITING FOR THE FEDERALS sounds like SENECA SQUARE DANCE --it might be interesting to learn where this title came from). Mr. Johnson is known for his distinct style of banjo, which he terms "Clawgrass" --a delightful combination of old time clawhammer and Bluegrass. He has a lovely touch on the instrument, and I have yet to hear a tune of his that isn't thoroughly musical and tasteful --it is no wonder why Steve Martin recently awarded Johnson his annual $ 50,000 prize for excellence in banjo. With all the praise of Mr. Johnson's playing, we cannot ignore the superb accompaniment by Emory Lester on Mandolin, Fiddle & Guitar. Together Johnson & Lester have produced a very special record that earns our HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION. Other tunes include ANGELINE THE BAKER, SOLDIER'S JOY and FISHER'S HORNPIPE.