Mark Johnson & Emory Lester
Acoustic Vision: Blockade Runner
Bang CD 005
This is the third of a trilogy of CDs in a series from Mark and Emory. The music is new age folk combined with the picking prowess of bluegrass. Much of the music is instrumental and on the reflective side. Lester carries the lion’s share of the instrumental load by playing guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, and fiddle. He also sings on several cuts adding depth to the project. He is an expressive singer and does a good job of getting to the emotional core of the material. Gordon Lightfoot’s “Mother Of A Miner’s Child” and the classic “Brown Mountain Light” stand out. Johnson plays some minstrel banjo in his highly-melodic style that contrasts nicely with the brighter sound of his usual banjo.
In these days of waning CD sales, informative liner notes explaining who is playing which instrument are certainly helpful. And, notes adding insight into how this CD is tied to the other CDs in the series would have added value to the project. There is precious little here to make one buy the CD over a potentially less expensive download option in that respect. One note that needs to be made, “Brown County Breakdown” is a Bill Monroe tune and not a traditional tune as stated in the credits.
If you are already a fan of this duo, there is plenty to like here. The music is more folk than bluegrass and is very well done. The picking and singing are tasteful and the programming is first-rate. Through the use of studio techniques, Lester is playing several instruments and Johnson’s banjo is the icing on a substantial cake. (Bangtown Records, P.O. Box 3335, Dunnellon, FL 34430, www.clawgrass.com.) RCB