Lee Marcus is a very talented banjo player from South Carolina who is a former member of Wayne Taylor and Appaloosa. Marcus recently followed in Taylor’s footsteps (who was a member of the U.S. Navy’s Country Current band for over twenty years) by joining the United States military. But before he enlisted, he recorded this fine solo album titled Grandpa’s Pond.
For those looking for some new traditional bluegrass music in these days of diversity, this project fits nicely into that category. Grandpa’s Pond was produced by Mountain Heart’s Jim VanCleve, who also plays the fiddle on five cuts. Also adding fiddle to four of these songs is the in-demand teenage bow-slinger Christian Ward, currently playing in Sierra Hull’s band. The rest of the musicians include bluegrass veterans such as Jason Moore on bass and Aaron Ramsey on mandolin and resonator guitar. Wyatt Rice plays guitar on the song “Proud.”
Not only is Marcus fluent on the banjo and guitar, but he sings lead vocals on every cut. His voice reminds me of a poor man’s Ricky Skaggs vocally. That is not a slight in the least, just that there is a hint of Skaggs’ tone in his timbre. Surrounding Marcus’ lead vocals are some wonderful harmony singing by Cia Cherryholmes, Josh Shilling, Kalyn Hall, Clint Wilson and VanCleve. Highlights on the album include the three songs penned by Blake Young: “My Time,” “Carolina Dreams” and “Beyond Those Gates,” the latter two being the best songs on the project. Other top cuts include the lone song written by Marcus titled “Blood And Sweat” and the public domain numbers “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” and “Life’s Railway To Heaven.” (www.leemarcusmusic.com)DH