Strawberry Park Bluegrass Festival in Presont, CT opened on Thursday evening with three mellow sets, which were justifiably well received by a smallish, but enthusiastic audience. The crowd will surely continue to grow today, as the lineup is superb and the weather warm, clear and dry. The evening kicked off at 6:00 with Amy Gallatin & Stillwaters and their melodious mix of bluegrass, country and folk. Gallatin has a spot-on voice and is well supported by the excellent Roger Williams on Dobro and young Ben Pierce on mandolin. John Urbanek plays bass and supplies excellent vocal harmonies. Williams very fine Dobro playing provides excellent support for Gallatin's voice as well as his own distinctive compositions.
Pete and Anne Sibley followed with a delightful set comprising some bluegrass and lots of their own compositions, which can probably be best characterized as folk. This duo, originating in Connecticut lives now in Jackson, WY. Their presentation is relaxed and personable. Their sound filled with melody, harmony, and their delight in each other.
The Greencards evoked a terrific response here last year and have returned for sets on Thursday and Friday this weekend. Their progressive sound combines bluegrass, jazz, and rock sensibilities with strong instrumental and vocal work from the entire group. Traditional bluegrass fans probably won't much take to The Greencards immediately, but they're personable - their energy and enthusiasm electric. Coming from Australia and England, they are now based in Nashville and were nominated for a Grammy this year. Carol Young on bass provides strong vocals, many her own compositions. Kym Warner on mandolin brings great energy and fine picking to his Sam Bush style movement. Eamon McLoughlin on fiddle and viola (what's the bluegrass equivalent to "fiddle" for the viola?) is very strong. He also sings while he plays, a very unusual bit for a fiddler. While he doesn't appear on their web site, Jake Stargell on guitar is, nevertheless, a standout. While only seventeen years old, Stargell is a mature and accomplished flatpicker whose rhythm work is also excellent. This excellent band provides a strong nod toward the progressive sound in Americana music at Strawberry Park.
I'll be mostly picture blogging each morning for the rest of the weekend from Strawberry Park. The music will be excellent this weekend. The weather iffy on Saturday. Come back and visit.