Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Stravberry Park BGF 2012 - Preston, CT - Preview

 The Strawberry Park Amphitheater

The 35th annual Strawberry Park Bluegrass Festival will open on Thursday, May 31 and run through Sunday June 3rd at Strawberry Park Resort Campground in Preston, CT.  Boasting a fine and varied lineup of perrenial favorites and well-regarded newcomers, Strawberry Park has much for the traditional bluegrass fan as well as something for people seeking a more progressive acoustic lineup. The expanded schedule on the Folk Stage this year complements the Amphitheater performances well and assures a busy and enjoyable four days at this comprehensive campground resort that continues to operate efficiently despite its recent well publicized financial difficulties. Click here to purchase tickets or call the park.  For camping, consult the campground map and then call the park to make a reservation at: (860) 886-1944. In addition to campsites, Strawberry Park has a variety of pleasant and comfortable trailers available on site for rental.

Newcomers to the 2012 Lineup

The SteelDrivers

The SteelDrivers hit the bluegrass scene about four years ago with a blues and rock influenced bluegrass style still clearly in the bluegrass camp. Recently, they've has a couple of personnel changes, but remain a strong and entertaining band with a raw bluegrass sound.  Most members are Nashville veterans who bring solid professionalism along with great tunes.
Lou Reid & Carolina

Lou Reid & Carolina have been around for some time, and Reid himself has one of the most recognizable tenor voices in bluegrass. Supported by his wife Christy, along with Shannon Slaughter (boasting a new CD with his own band) and Trevor Watson on banjo, the band has a new, very tuneful CD. It's lively and entertaining with a first rate musical vibe.

Christie Reid

Matt Muncey, Daniel Salyer, Eli Johnston

Monroeville  pays homage to its roots in both its name and plenty of its music while offering new and sometimes surprising music written by bassist Daniel Salyer and guitarist Eli Johnston as well as others. A young and relatively new band, Monroeville is a comer you'll enjoy seeing and meeting. Wait to you hear Zane Petty's Foggy Mountain Breakdown!

 The Dixie Bee Liners
The Dixie Bee Liners have absorbed several personnel changes in the past two years, and I'll be eager and interested to see their latest offerings. Their music draws upon deep imbibing of traditional bluegrass roots through their connection to SW Virginia's Crooked Road as well as a range of music in a more progressive vein.  Recent additions to the band have drawn freely from students at ETSU, located near their home base in Bristol, VA.  Their most recent CD concept road travel album called "Susanville."

 Newfound Road

Tim Shelton's soulful singing voice remains one of the best in bluegrass. His song choices perfectly fit the voice with this contemporary bluegrass band. Joe Booher is a creative genius on the mandolin. Watch for his wonderful mandolin solo leading into the band's rendition of Houston.  Josh Miller's guitar and banjo add flavor along with Jayme Booher on bass. NewFound Road is a band well worth seeing.

The Facility

Strawberry Park is a major destination campground in eastern Connecticut, near the state's casinos, Mystic Seaport, and other tourist attractions. The main amphitheater stage is one of the most pleasant places to watch bluegrass in anywhere.  Slightly raked and well shaded, it's usually pleasant under the trees. The shape of the bowl is conducive to first rate sound, always provided by Cobra Sound. Vendors Row, offering some shopping and several popular food tents is located at the top of the amphitheater along a path leading to the campgrounds comprehensive and fairly priced snack bar serving snacks and full meals. The folk stage is also adjacent to and/or above the snack bar.  There's free camping in the rough with a full festival ticket.  Swimming pools, a popular inflated jumping area, playgrounds, a frisbee golf course, and many more activities are available on the site.  Here are some views:

Our Campsite
Kids on the Bouncer

 Ron Stewart Conducts Banjo Workshop

Swimming Pools

Kimber Ludiker Conducts Fiddle Workshop

 Jam at the Shaw's Motorhome

 The Folk Stage

 The program this year at the folk stage appears varied and exciting. Brittany Haas & Lauren Rioux will appear as a fiddle duo; Three Tall Pines is a regional traditional bluegrass band; Singer/songwriter Gail Wade is well known at Strawberry Park and in the region; Nashville performers Cia Cherryholmes & Stedson Atkisson will present their acoustic set; The Honeycutters created a stir at this year's Merlefest; I'm not familiar with Honey Dew Drops or Ray Bonneville & Louise Taylor, but the entire lineup at the Folk Stage should be worth a careful look. Mike and Mary Robinson, itinerant bluegrass evangelists, will be hosting their well known Bluegrass Gospel Jam and Sing on Sunday morning at the folk stage before the Sunday program begins at the main stage.

 Kim Cyr - Emcee

 David Nowakowski - Festival Director

Lisa Husted - Emcee

There's Plenty of Room to Dance

Old Favorites

Lots of Strawberry Park favorites will be back again this year. View the entire schedule of Amphitheater performances and Folk Stage performances here and print it out for further guidance.  Here are some photos of returning bands:

The Boxcars
Adam Steffey

 Keith Garrett

Della Mae

Lead Singer - Celia Woodsmith

 Jim Beaver - Emcee

 Amy Gallitin & Stillwaters
Amy Gallitin

 Roger Williams

Danny Paisley

The Larry Stephenson Band
Kenny Ingram & Larry Stephenson

The Gibson Brothers

Hot Mustard
The Kruger Brothers

The Greencards
Carol Young

Kym Warner

Dailey & Vincent
Darin Vincent

 Jamie Dailey
Strawberry Park looks like it will offer another great festival. We're looking forward to seeing you there. For additional information, check out the parks website.

How to Get to Strawberry Park