Mark Johnson & Emory Lester: Emory Lester is one of this day’s foremost exponents of the acoustic mandolin. The power and attack of his mandolin playing are unmatched, and his sound is infectious. His recording projects ‘Pale Rider’, ‘The Emory Lester Set’, and ‘Cruisin’ the 8’ have placed him among the elite mandolinists of our time. His brand new recording ‘Reminiscing Today’ showcases Emory’s musical creativity, and skill as a mandolinist /instrumentalist.
Emory has inspired and influenced many of the young up-and-coming mandolin players of today, and pointed the way with his clean, clear, fast and efficient mandolin technique. Emory is currently performing with ‘Wayne Taylor and Appaloosa’, doing shows across the U.S., Canada, and internationally, just having completed an extensive tour of the Scotland and England, with a new recording climbing the bluegrass charts, and enjoying much success and national exposure for Emory’s talent as an instrumentalist and a vocalist. Emory’s ten year partnership with noted ‘Clawgrass’ banjoist Mark Johnson has yielded three very creative recording projects, the latest of which is the new ‘Acoustic Vision’. Mark and Emory have toured all across the U.S., and through the Crossroads Music label, have been nominated for Instrumental Album of the Year at the IBMA Awards program in 2007. Emory also performs with his own band, the Emory Lester Set, at concerts and festivals nationally.
A life long Virginia native, now living in Barrie, Ontario Canada, Emory has been teaching master series workshops at events such as the Steve Kaufman Camp, the Mandolin Symposium, Transatlantic Bluegrass School in Wales UK, and many other prestigious schools and workshops far and wide. He also has produced several recording projects for other artists.
Mark Johnson hangs his hat in Florida but learned his trade from Jay Unger while living in New York. Mark didn’t know that Jay was a highly accomplished fiddler who also tinkered with the clawhammer style of banjo. It was in the early 1970s, that Mark learned from this consummate fiddler the basic technique of clawhammer banjo. He also learned the three-finger style of bluegrass picking as his familiarity with the instrument unfolded.
Mark moved to Crystal River in Florida in 1981 where, per chance, he met the Rice brothers, Larry, Tony, Ronnie and Wyatt. Mark was working at the local power utility with Herb Rice, Larry and Ronnie and through that relationship, his manner for style and creativity in composition and performance was forever changed.
Mark’s unique style doesn’t really fit into a strict category. It’s very bluegrass but has overtones of traditional folk, progressive acoustic, new-grass and old-timey all mixed into one. It’s authentic. It’s unique. It’s Clawgrass.