Friday, June 1, 2012

Strawberry Park 2012 - Thursday

Strawberry Park offers one of the best campgrounds we stay in during the year.  There's plenty for kids to do here, an excellent and well-priced snack bar, and usually helpful staff . The main amphitheater provides some of the best sight lines anywhere. The shape of the bowl means that the excellent sound provided by Cobra Sound can roll up the hill while everyone can have a very good view of the stage. The schedule made it possible for people not to arrive until Friday morning without missing any performers, but those who made that choice were deprived of a fine evening of music accompanied by warm, dry weather.  

Coming Through the Gate

The day started around 4:30 with a workshop presented by Bruce Stockwell and Bill Jubett on arranding double banjo tunes supported by their wives Kelly and April, who together are Hot Mustard.  Larry Stephenson followed with an interesting discussion of band dynamics.  This year the workshop stage and the folk stage have been combined  at the location beside the snack bar. This should draw more people to workshops while making transportation somewhat easier. 

Hot Mustard at Workshop

Bill Jubett & Bruce Stockwell

Kenny Ingram & Larry Stephenson

Hot Mustard

Hot Mustard, which formed as a band only three years ago and immediately won the band competition at Jenny Brook continues to sharpen the unique sound given it by featuring double banjos, while becoming increasingly tight. They have broadened their song selection and have used April Jubett's plaintive country voice to good effect.  Kelly Stockwell continues to become increasingly adept and interesting an the bass. Bill Jubett's banjo work meshes well with Bruce Stockwell's mastery of the instrument. This band should gain increasing recognition beyond the New England region.

Bruce Stockwell

April Hobart Jubett
Kelly Stockwell

 Bill Jubett

The Dixie Bee Liners

The Dixie Bee Liners continue to follow a muse that takes them into a range of bluegrass and bluegrass related musical regions. Located in southwest Virginia right on the Tennessee line, they reflect the roiling musical influences crossing there.  Refusing to be pigeonholed, they use material that includes the mountain dulcimer, a resetting of "You Ain't Nothin' But a Hound Dog," and songs from their road-song concept album "Susanville." With new personnel since we last saw them in Putney, VT, they continue to strengthen and enrich their musical vocabulary.

Buddy Woodward
Brandi Hart

Sav Sankaran

Zach Mongan

Lauren Saks

Todd Patrick Livingston

The Larry Stephenson Band

 Larry Stephenson continues to be one of the hardest touring, hardest working bands in bluegrass. Stephenson's work with beginning with Bill Harrell in the eighties and continuing with a long-time stint as a member of the Bluegrass Cardinals gave him the training and confidence to form his own band in 1989. Since then he has recorded ten CD's and won many awards as a strong voice for traditional bluegrass and contemporary treatments.  Recently Colby Laney joined the band on guitar harmony vocals making significant contributions despite being new to the band. It's always a treat to see Kenny Ingram display his banjo wizardry while connecting to the second generation of bluegrassers with his experience and playing Sonny Osborne's fabled Vega banjo. Danny Stewart is strong and personable on bass. Larry Stephenson continues to have one of the great classic tenor voices in bluegrass.

Larry Stephenson

Kenny Ingram

 Colby Laney

Danny Stewart, Jr. 

 The Larry Stephenson Band -

Thursday's opening night presaged a fine weekend at Strawberry Park. If you're in the neighborhood, there's still time to come to Preston. If not, keep an eye here. Because of the great sound here, there will be a lot of videos coming in the next few weeks, but, for reasons of band-width, they'll have to wait a while. Regardless, check out my You Tube Channel for previously added material.