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Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice
Band wins for top song, CD at Nashville awards show
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Courtesy Photo: Junior Sisk (center, at mic) went on the big stage twice in Nashville after his band, Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice, won two major awards.

Friday, October 5, 2012

By CHARLES BOOTHE - Staff Writer

September was a big month for Junior Sisk.

After being inducted into the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame on Sept. 16, the Ferrum resident then headed for Nashville for the annual International Bluegrass Music Association award show on Sept. 27.

He and his band walked away with two major awards.

Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice won for Album of the Year, "The Heart of a Song," and Single of the Year, "A Far Cry From Lester & Earl."

"I'm still reeling from it," Sisk said. "We got back Saturday night and took a little rest."

Sisk said he was part of a team that won before, but this was different.

"The first award I won, I was part of the 'Celebration of Life,' a group of musicians against childhood cancer," he said. "That was a collaboration deal."

But this was different, as the spotlight was solely on his band.

"It just tore me up. I couldn't believe it," he said.

The winning song, "A Far Cry From Lester & Earl," was co-written by Sisk with his cousin, Tim Massey, and the idea came from Rick Pardue, a North Carolina friend.

"I wrote the third verse up in a tree stand deer hunting," Sisk said.

Sisk has been writing songs for a long time, but this was his biggest.

"I wrote my first song when I was about 16," he said. "But it didn't get recorded until eight or 10 years ago when Lonesome River Band recorded it."

"I thought it was a corny song, about a mountain and a cabin, but they asked if I had any songs I had written and I found it."

Sisk said he sang the song, "My Heart Belongs To You," for Sammy Shelor with Lonesome River Band, "and they took it."

He has written many songs since and one of his favorites is "Thankful For Each Day," which he co-wrote with his dad, Harry Carpenter Sisk Sr.

Sisk said he is pleased with his band members, Billy Hawks on fiddle and vocals, Jason Tomlin on vocals and bass, Jason Davis on banjo and Chris Davis on mandolin and vocals.

"I think it's the best combination we've had yet as far as the excitement and energy on stage goes," he said. "People see that and say, 'It looks like you're having fun.' We feed off the crowd like that."

Sisk said he loves to perform, but life on the road is rough.

"The road part of it, I don't care much for," he said. "When I get there, the singing and performing are great. But the road will wear you out. You can't eat right, you can't sleep right. It's hard to have a good schedule."

Traveling has been especially hard on him, he said, because he has always been an early riser. But he's keyed up after a concert and often doesn't get to bed until 2 or 3 a.m.

Sisk said the best way to relax for him is to deer hunt, a passion he developed many years ago.

"Deer hunting gets me away from everything," he said. "It's really family first, deer hunting second, then bluegrass."

Since Sisk and his band play mostly on weekends, that gives him weekdays to hunt.

"I've got the run of the woods during the week, when everyone else is at work," he said.

In fact, Sisk and Ramblers Choice is off again this weekend to Abingdon to headline the town's first Crooked Road Festival.

"We play from 8:30 to 10 p.m. on Saturday," he said.

The band also has a new CD.

"We're done with one right now. We just finished up a month ago," he said.

The title song, "The Story of the Day I Died," will be released as a single on Nov. 6, Sisk's birthday, and the CD is scheduled to be released in March 2013.

"It (the title song) is just a really good story," he said.

Sisk has also signed on with a new booking agent, Jim Roe Entertainment of Tennessee.

Local residents will get a chance to hear Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice on Saturday, Oct. 27 when the band plays at Two By Two Barbecue in Rocky Mount.

"They (the restaurant) are one of our sponsors," he said.

Sisk said the weekend of Dec. 9 will be the first one the band has off.

"We'll take the rest of the month off and start back at a concert in Florida in January," he said.

And during that time off, he plans to do some bow hunting and "spend time at home with the grandbabies," Kile and Kloe.

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