Veteran bluegrass singer and mandolin player brought his own band to Strawberry Park for the first time this weekend with a set featuring their most recent CD on Saturday night and a fine gospel set on Sunday morning just as his hit single "Carolina Moonshine Man" hit the top of the Bluegrass Today chart. Reid's fine tenor voice along with Shannon Slaughter's bass and Christy Reid's harmony creates a terrific sound and the instrumental effect of this very good four piece band is just right. Trevor Watson on banjo adds to the harmony and contributes drive on the banjo.
Amy Gallatin combines with partner Roger Williams to provide a tuneful and lively show that is well-known in New England and deserves broader national attention. Gallatin has a pleasant voice and sprightly manner. Williams is one of the best Dobro players around, although he is best known in New England, except by other Dobro players who respect his work and innovations on the instrument. Eric Levinson has been a fixture in the regional bluegrass scene for more than a generation. The emergence of J.D. Williams on mandolin and vocal harmonies as well as his backup on guitar has been remarkable during the past year.
Danny Paisley is busy building the third generation of his family's traditional sound coming out of the region north of Baltimore where Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware come together. Danny's twelve year old son Ryan has moved from enthusiastic backup boy in the back of the band to being an accomplished instrumentalist whose work stands on its own. It's always interesting to see which musicians other musicians come out front to watch. Paisley's fans always include this knowledgeable group.
Strawberry Park, despite one day of questionable weather was an artistic success. The crowd had a fine time as band after band presented their best work. It was a good opening of the New England festival season. Just as NewFound Road took the stage for the final set of the weekend, the clouds returned and, as they concluded the rains and thunder returned, but it has been a good weekend.