The Strawberry Park Bluegrass Festival will celebrate its fortieth anniversary at Strawberry Park at 42 Pierce Rd. in Preston, CT from June 1 - 4 this year with a strong lineup in a beautiful amphitheater setting from a stage with excellent sight lines with sound provided by real pros who know what acoustic music sounds like. This year's lineup features top notch national touring bands, many familiar to and well-loved the Strawberry Park audiences as well as popular regional bands who provide much more than fill-in entertainment. Returning after some years absence will be Rhonda Vincent & the Rage while Sideline, a breakout band from North Carolina celebrating more traditional sounds, makes its debut performance at Strawberry Park. This historic New England festival convenient to fans from Boston to New York will please your musical taste in a setting with plenty to offer including a strong history of lots of wall-to-wall jamming.
Bob Amos, founder of and former lead singer for 90's band Front Range, has returned to northern Vermont, where, over the past five years, he has assembled a first rate bluegrass band and begun recording and performing again. As both a traditionalist and creator of new and thoughtful songs, he captures some of the spare qualities of life in the Northern Kingdom with a fine ear for nuance. Band, featuring Steve Wright on guitar with fiddler Freeman Corey and his daughter Sarah Amos' quality vocals is worth hearing and seeing.
Sideline's no sideline any longer. The band, composed of a mixture of seasoned pros and young hotshots has gone from being an off-season band designed to keep the fingers supple to over 100 dates from coast-to-coast. Built around Steve Dilling after more than twenty years with IIIrd Time Out, go-to bassist Jason Moore (Mountain Heart), and Skip Cherryholmes (Cherryholmes) the band has expanded to feature Brad Hudson on Dobro and vocals and Nathan Aldridge, a fiery young fiddler. The most recent addition to the band is Troy Boone, just having completed his formal education at ETSU, has joined the band on mandolin and lead vocals. Singing material from the first three generations of bluegrass' development, you'll enjoy the energy, humor, and versatility of this band.
Winners of the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album, The SteelDrivers began their career a dozen years ago as a nighttime hard driving, beer swizzling sound relying largely on the song writing and gravely voice of Chris Stapleton. Now, while singer/guitarist Gary Nichols is undergoing some kind of treatment, the band has announced that Adam Wakefield, a recent contestant on The Voice, will be filling in. With Brent Truitt on mandolin and a change in emphasis, the band is less boozy and more serious, but a better band, too. In many ways, fiddler Tami Rodgers has become the heart of the band, with her blazing fiddle, song writing and fine harmony singing. Watch for banjo master Richard Bailey's subtle, yet powerful banjo work and Mike Fleming's excellence on bass. The band the brought the blues back to bluegrass won't disappoint.
The first time I heard The Lonely Heartstring Band's cover of Paul Simon's "Graceland,"chills ran down my spine. This still happens each time I hear them play this classic. With their first CD Deep Water released by Rounder Records, they have moved rapidly upwards in the staunchly traditional world of bluegrass, where longevity and traditional roots count for much. Beginning life as a Beatles cover band, this band has defied convention and prospered. Instrumentally and vocally well rounded, the band is a constant joy to hear. Outside their classic rock covers, much of the rest of their glowing material is written within the band.
Dry Branch Fire Squad has appeared at all but one of the forty Strawberry Park festivals. Combining wry wit, piercing social commentary, and raw, from-the-heart traditional bluegrass and gospel singing, Many people who might leave early on Sunday morning, wouldn't consider leaving until after Dry Branch's Sunday morning gospel set and Ron Thomason's "Sermon." Some observers complain that many bluegrass bands lack entertainment value. This band entertains, enlightens, and delights!