Thursday, May 16, 2013

Strawberry Park Bluegrass Festival: Preston, CT - Preview

The Strawberry Park Bluegrass Festival opens for its thirty-sixth annual run at Strawberry Park in Preston, CT from May 30th through June 2, 2013. With a lineup so strong the highlights have highlights, this should be one of the best in several years. Featuring major national bands that you've known for years, some new bands on the scene, Traditional and Progressive bands, straight ahead driving bluegrass and bluegrass derived Americana, Strawberry Park appeals to a broad range of interests and satisfies with a stunning variety of choices.

The Lineup

This year's lineup on both the Main Stage and the Americana & Workshop stage is varied and interesting. You'll be kept busy shuttling up to the Americana & Workshop stage, particularly if you like seeing new bands. I don't (as of this writing) have a workshop schedule, but you can bet it will be interesting and instructive, too. Since the Gibson Brothers are performing songs from their new CD "'They Called It Music," they will probably have some new ones to try out if they do their well liked song writing workshop. Meanwhile, keep an eye out for Michael Cleveland to appear with the Kruger Brothers for an instrumental jam. Dale Ann Bradley, five time IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year  has added Steve and Debbie Gulley to her band, giving her even more powerful vocals. Gary Nichols, of the SteelDrivers, is a refreshing change from Chris Stapleton and you should hear him if you haven't before. Ben Eldridge is the last remaining original member of The Seldom Scene. He grumbles about retiring from time-to-time, so make sure to see this great banjo performer. As ever, Strawberry Park has invited some of the most popular and best regional talent to perform, both old favorites and a good selection of new groups.

Main Stage 
The Gibson Brothers (Friday)
Leigh Gibson

Eric Gibson
The Steeldrivers (Saturday)
Brent Truitt & Tammy Rogers

The Greencards(Saturday)
Carol Young & Kym Warner

The Seldom Scene (Saturday)
Ben Eldridge

Dudley Connell

 Sierra Hull & Highway 111 (Friday)
Sierra Hull & Jake Eller

The Kruger Bothers (Saturday) 

Jens Kruger & Michael Cleveland

Dale Ann Bradley (Thursday)

The Dry Branch Fire Squad (Saturday & Sunday)

 The Hillbenders (Friday)
Mark Cassidy & Nolan Lawrence

 Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper (Saturday)

Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice (Sunday)
Chris Davis, Jason Tomlin, & Junior Sisk

Grasstowne (Thursday & Friday)
Alan Bibey

The Stray Birds (Friday)

Amy Gallatin & Stillwaters (Fri & Sun)
Roger Williams & Amy Gallatin

Gail Wade & Turning Point (Sun)

Hot Mustard (Thursday)

Three Tall Pines (Sunday)
Winner - Band Contest at Podunk 2012

The Honey Dew Drops (Thursday)

Americana & Workshop Stage 
Tripping Lily (Saturday)
Three Tall Pines (Saturday)
The Honey Dew Drops (Friday)
Poor Old Shine (Saturday)
Washboard Slim & The Blue Lights (Friday)

Gail Wade & Turning Point (Saturday)

Hot Mustard (Friday)

The Stray Birds (Friday) 
Gordon Pike & Dixie Darlings (Sunday)
The Details
Strawberry Park is a comprehensive campground and RV resort offering all the amenities an RVer or a festival goer could wish for.  You can bring your RV and use full service water, electric, and sewer sites or water and electric alone. Quiet hours are enforced in the campground, making it a good choice for people like us.  A rough camping area where there is wall-to-wall jamming with no facilities is available on a plateau above the campground and there is a tent camping area for free rough camping. There are also trailers for rent. Details about camping and other alternatives as well as ticketing options can be found here and you can purchase tickets online here.  You can get further information about rentals here. For further information, call Strawberry Park at (860) 886-1944.
Aerial View of Pool and Activities Complex

The Swimming Pools

The Bouncer

Vending Area

The Amphitheater

The Main Stage at Strawberry Park is built at the base of a naturally sloping amphiteater which provides unobstructed sight lines and excellent sound carry. Merchandise tables and a dance stage are to the left  of this picture.

The Americana & Workshop Stage

Located above the vending area and beside the snack bar, the workshop stage is close enough to the main stage to be convenient with just a short walk, but far enough away so that sound from one stage doesn't interfere with sound at the other. 
Jamming on the Plateau

 How to Get to Strawberry Park
on the map below, click where it says Larger Map
and then input your location in A

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Strawberry Park is a festival we always enjoy. If you've never been there before, give it a try.