By the time Cold Chocolate took the Thursday evening stage at 9:00 o'clock, the weather had taken a turn towards their name. The remaining audience was pretty well chilled to the bone, as the temperature plummeted. Cold Chocolate describes themselves, in a humorous menu on their web site, as part bluegrass with infusions of funk, Americana, roots, and folk music. Emerging from Oberlin College in Ohio they are now part of the red hot Boston music scene. Their singing and instrumental work are inventive and arresting. Kirstin Lamb's haunting voice and virtuoso bass playing were a standout in a very good band. Ariel Bernstein's percussion work was light handed and appropriate. I would have like to have heard and seen (the night lighting on the stage was terrible) more, but the chill sent me back to our trailer before the end of their set.
Flatt Rabbit is a lively traditional bluegrass band from the Boston area. Their music is familiar to most bluegrass fans and well presented enough to please discriminating tastes.
Nora Jane Strothers & Party Line seems like a band still trying to find its niche. One performer commented to me that the last time he'd seen Nora Jane, she was fronting a string band. Her music moves from cajun to what she describes as "honky tonk" sounding a lot like country rock to me, to more reflective story songs. She has a solid and flexible voice and is backed by some strong musicians, but features way too much drum, despite the manifest skills of her drummer. Perhaps Strawberry Park was the wrong venue for her, but that's not her fault. Nora Jane has talent and personallity which earned her an encore.