Monday, June 6, 2011

Strawberry Park 2011 - Saturday

Another beautiful day at Strawberry Park dawned bright and quickly moved from morning chill to a friendly warmth allowing people to bask in the sun while not needing to escape to the shade.  Later in the day the sky became overcast and a chill breeze cooled everyone off, but there was never a threat or rain. A good Saturday crowd drifted in throughout the afternoon to lustily applaud a range of bluegrass and bluegrass influenced music that appealed to many, while a few took walks when the music wasn't to their taste.  The festival, as a whole, provided  a good deal of diversity with good will.  It was a festive festival day.

The Clair Lynch Band

Claire Lynch is the reigning IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year. She continues to be a superlative song stylist, choosing her songs to fit her style and voice with taste and variety. Her band supports here while she generously gives each member plenty of opportunity to shine.  Bassist Mark Schatz plays wonderful breaks, strongly provides the rhythm section, and gets a chance to step to the front to clog and ham bone, a performance eagerly anticipated by the audience.  Jason Thomas, on both fiddle and mandolin, is melodic and strong.  Matt Wingate's work on guitar shows his virtuosity as well as his ability to support the songs.  A Claire Lynch performance is filled with song, warmth, and thought provoking, inward looking songs as well as some great bluegrass.

Claire Lynch

Mark Schatz

Jason Thomas

Matt Wingate

Mark Schatz Teaches Ham Bone

Claire's Merch Table

The Greencards

The Greencards arrived in the U.S. from Australia as a more-or-less traditional bluegrass band. Over the years their sound has morphed into an exciting sound uniquely their own featuring Carol Young's distinctive voice and bass playing.  Kym Warner is a wizard on mandolin and mandolin cousins like the mandola and bazouki.  Carl Minor is one of the fine young guitarists springing up all around.  His inventive riffs meld into and help unite the band's sound.  Tyler Andal on fiddle coaxes sounds from the violin both surprising and pleasing.  While not to everyone's taste, this band deserves careful attention for its challenging sound which, when allowed to, reaches deep inside prompting strong emotions.  Making their fourth consecutive appearance at Strawberry Park, the Greencards are popular and eagerly awaited by their fans here.

Carol Young

Kym Warner

Carl Minor

Tyler Andal

Kym and Tyler

Carol Young

Dry Branch Fire Squad

For more than thirty years the mixture of primitive singing style and topical humor focused on the wit and wisdom of the southern sensibility in contrast to the "sophistication" of the elites gently skewering each has characterized Ron Thomason's style.  The band's polish and style presents Monroe style singing and playing with a distinctive sensibility that informs and amuses at once. They're always a welcome addition to a bluegrass festival.

Ron Thomason

Danny Russell
Brian Aldridge
Tom Boyd

Mark Schatz - Bass Workshop

Dave Mallett on the Folk Stage

The Grascals

The Grascals brought their energy, award-winning style, excellent musicianship, and fine singing to Strawberry Park.  Their sets were enthusiastically applauded by large audiences.  Jamie Johnson suffered an athletic injury between sets, but bravely took the stage  for their second set and came through in spades.  The performed lots of material from their new Cracker Barrel CD "The Grascals and Friends" which features a  number of country stars singing with this still essentially bluegrass band.  They have also released a CD paying homage to the songs of The Andy Griffith Show called "Dance 'til Your Stockings Are Ravelin'" which is lots of fun, especially for Griffith fans.  This is one of the hardest touring bands on the bluegrass circuit. They'll next be seen in New England at the Jenny Brook Bluegrass Festival coming up in three weeks.

Jamie Johnson & Terry Smith
Jeremy Abshire

Danny Roberts

Terry Smith

Kristin Scott Benson
Terry Eldredge

Kat Lundy - Soon to be Mrs. Eledredge

Danny Roberts - Mandolin Workshop

The Gibson Brothers

In the past several years The Gibson Brothers have truly become a nationally known and well-loved band. Nevertheless, they retain their loyalty to the set of New England bluegrass festivals which helped boost them to prominence early in their career and returned them to prominence later.  They always draw extremely well at Strawberry Park, and today was no exception.  Singing material from their #1 CD "Help My Brother" as well as favorites from their five other chart topping albums, they continued to forge the steel bonds they create with their audiences wherever they appear.  Immediately on finishing their second set, they embarked on a trip to the Yukon, where they'll be appearing this week and coming weekend.  The audience was given a special treat when Claire Lynch appeared with them on stage to sing "Talk To Me" from their current album.
Eric Gibson

Leigh Gibson

Mike Barber

 Clayton Campbell
Joe Walsh
 Claire Lynch with The Gibson Brothers
Kim Cyr - Emcee

Sunday turned out to be a fine day, too.  Come back for an account of the day as well as an overall assessment of the entire festival tomorrow.