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MP3 Joel Mabus - The Joel Mabus Omnibus

A compilation disc -- two previous CDs remastered onto one disc. This is acoustic folk music -- guitars, mandolin, bass, vocals. Often said, Joel Mabus is a singer-songwriter but he doesn''t sound like one. No whining here.

19 MP3 Songs in this album (70:19) !
Related styles: FOLK: Traditional Folk, FOLK: Folk Blues

People who are interested in John McCutcheon Greg Brown Bill Staines should consider this download.


This is a two-for-one album of sorts – a compilation of two earlier Mabus discs. It also stands as a representative collection of Joel’s classic songs from the early 1990’s. His albums, FIRELAKE (1990) and SHORT STORIES (1992) are here in near entirety. Nineteen cuts in all -- two are Joel’s arrangement of traditional material, the rest original songs. Not at all over-produced, but there are mandolin, second guitar, and bass tracks on most cuts, along with Joel’s voice and first guitar. The songs range from whimsical to spiritual, funny to serious – about love, loss, coping, global warming (way ahead of the curve) and a 6 minute history of the 20th century in a talking blues.

Reviews of the original albums include these:
"...fine listening for a cold quiet winter evening"
- Dirty Linen Magazine

"... indescribably tasteful guitar and insightful singer-songwriter material"
-Art Menius in Bluegrass Unlimited

"The best crop [of songs] Mabus has produced to date"
- Dirty Linen


Joel Mabus has split his 35-year career in folk music between the traditional and the original. Split is perhaps not the proper word, because the old and the new intertwine in his music, whether he is singing an old ballad with a new interpretive twist or writing a new song with a 21st century perspective that sounds like it has been handed down from generations past.

Where is he from? He was born and raised in a working-class family in a modest Southern Illinois town, about 105 miles southeast of Mark Twain, 190 miles northwest of Bill Monroe, 110 miles southwest of Burl Ives and just over the river and up the hill from Scott Joplin.

His great-grandfather Louis Charles Lee was an Illinois farmhouse fiddler of the 19th century. Most of the following generations were farmhouse musicians too. When Joel’s mother and father came of age in the Great Depression, they took their old-time music on the road as professional entertainers, barnstorming the Midwest with road shows for Prairie Farmer, the parent company of the WLS Barn Dance, the progenitor of the Grand Ole Opry.

This pedigree was not lost on Joel as a child. When his schoolmates were grooving to the Beach Boys and the Monkeys, he was learning the tunes of the Carter Family, Bill Monroe and Jimmie Rodgers. He also absorbed some of the blues and spiritual music that is thick in his native Southern Illinois along the Mississippi River.

Despite the poverty his family was thrown into after his father’s untimely death, Joel attended university in Michigan (on a national merit scholarship), where he studied anthropology by day and learned the business of being a professional musician by night. Interests grew beyond bluegrass & old time stringband music, and Joel studied older blues, western swing, and even Celtic dance music long before it was the fad. He also began to write songs.

After journeyman’s work in several local bluegrass and string bands, Joel made his first record for a Michigan label in 1977 with mandolin legend Frank Wakefield guesting. Three years later he signed with Flying Fish Records for a two-record deal. In 1986 he was one of the first established folksingers to start his own independent label, even before the advent of the home studio and compact disc, which make the practice so common today.

While he is known to many as a songwriter, having penned several songs familiar to the folk crowd (“Touch a Name On the Wall,” “The Druggist,” and “The Duct Tape Blues” are three that have been covered by many and published in the pages of Singout Magazine), he is also a fixture on the traditional scene as a guitarist, old-time banjoist, singer and fiddler. He has taught at Augusta Heritage, Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, and fiddled at countless dance camps. (His fiddle tune, “The Blue Jig” has become a modern contradance standard on three continents and has been recorded numerous times by dance bands.)

Subsequent to his instrumental guitar release in 2005, “Parlor Guitar,” Joel was asked by Hal Leonard Publishing to write transcriptions from that CD for publication. The book, Parlor Guitar, is now available worldwide for guitarists to learn Joel’s arrangements of these early 20th century classics.

Joel was also among the first wave to join the North American Folk Music & Dance Alliance (“Folk Alliance,” for short) in 1990, and showcased officially at the 1991 international conference in Chicago, where he was given two standing ovations. Top agent David Tamulevich wrote, "It was one of the most memorable and remarkable sets I have ever had the pleasure of seeing."

Mabus has made 19 solo albums in his recording career – most of them still available. His latest are “The Banjo Monologues” in 2007, a unique blend of old-time banjo and storytelling, and “Retold” in 2008, new versions of 12 of his vintage original songs.

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