Monday, June 19, 2017

Strawberry Park Bluegrass Festival 2017 - Saturday & Sunday - Review


We had lots of pleasant weather on Saturday and Sunday after Friday night's chilly rain drove us under cover. Perhaps the best weather for enjoying outdoor music is warm, slightly overcast, and dry. The overcast holds the warmth in long into the evening, whereas clear days allow for the warm air close to the ground to escape, making for pretty skies and chilly fans. There was no rain on Saturday and Sunday until the skies opened up as the last people were leaving the campground. Rain fell most of Sunday night. As usual, when bands appeared on two days, I'll continue to only write about them once. 

Blackstone Valley Boys

The Blackstone Valley Boys come from Massachusetts and Rhode Island, once the home of industrialzing America. Their music combines hard driving bluegrass, folk, and rock in bluegrass style combined with a winning personal style that makes their show entertaining and lively. Their performances can be seen around the region.
Dave Nowlan

Dave Dick

Ken Taylor

Bob Dick



Dry Branch Fire Squad

Dry Branch Fire Squad, coming from southern Ohio and Colorado, features old-time bluegrass and mountain music combined with Ron Thomason's dry, self-effacing humor which always carries an edge of satire while exposing fans to his own slightly off-center view of the world. He's a folk humorist of rare insight combined with traditional music to create a band persona appreciated and treasured throughout the country. The band appeared on Saturday and, with its unique Sunday gospel program, opened the Sunday show, an event many stay to hear before beginning the trek home. 

Ron Thomason

Tom Boyd

Adam McIntosh

Jeff Byrd




Great Pizza & Good Wine
Fresh by the Stage

The Gail Wade Trio

The Gail Wade Trio, features the talented and versatile singer/song-writer Gail Wade, along with two band mates well known in New England bluegrass circles, Joe DiLillo and Tim St. Jean.The band's repertoire ranges from classic bluegrass through Peter Rowan Newgrass to Gail's coffee-shop folk sound that works well in almost any setting. Gail also appears with The Hot Flashes. 

Gail Wade

Joe DiLillo

Tim St. Jean


The Lonely Heartstring Band

The Lonely Heartstring Band brings together five talented and attractive musicians from Boston who have captivated the bluegrass world with their fine singing and instrumental prowess as well as versatility. Their music ranges from wonderful songs written from within the band to ingenious covers of the Beatles, Paul Simon, Credence Clearwater Revival and more. They tickle and intrigue audiences with their ability to reconfigure iconic rock music into believable bluegrass. The band and its members have reached the second round in the IBMA awards nomination process in seven band award categories plus individual instrumental awards. Don't miss them near you.

George Clements

Matt Witler

Patrick M'Gonigle

Gabe Hirshfeld

Charles Clements



Mike from Ace Audio

Ace Audio provided superb sound in both the amphitheater and the backup stage at the recreation center. They deserve recognition for their flexibility and the strength of their presentation of acoustic sound.

Steve from Ace Audio

 Carl Landi - Festival Manager


Twisted Pine

Twisted Pine is another band coming from the Boston area and composed mostly of Berklee College of Music graduates that's hard to capture with a simple genre label. Coming from a variety of backgrounds and strongly influenced by bluegrass music, this band presents songs fitting within the conventional song-based performance and moving into the territory of jam band presentation, too. As they move away from conventional generic limits, they become increasingly interesting to those with adventuresome musical tastes. Their cover of Blondie's Heart of Glass was greeted with a delighted gasp by the audience. 

Dan Bui

Rachel Sumner

Chris Sartori

Kathleen Parks



Sundays at most festivals are quiet days which are attended largely by people with no urgent reason to head home who want to get still more music in a relaxed and, often, surprising way. A relatively large group of people usually stay for the gospel hour presented by Dry Branch Fire Squad,  for the music, the message, and the humor. The only band which had not already performed during the festival was the Stockwell Brothers, a band well worth staying for. 

The Stockwell Brothers

Three brothers from rural Putney, VT, have been around the bluegrass, folk, rock, and Americana scene in New England for a generation. Barry Stockwell, whose sings lead and plays guitar, has an engaging voice and personality. He also is the promoter at The Next Stage Arts Project in Putney, a non-profit which presents a variety of regular musical events. Brother Al owns Black Mountain Sound in Brattleboro. Bruce is well known in the banjo world, having won the Merlefest banjo contest some years ago and being a frequent staff member at banjo camps around the country. Kelly Stockwell, on bass, has been a driving force in increasing the band's visibility over the past few years.

Barry Stockwell

Bruce Stockwell

Al Stockwell

Kelly Stockwell



Soon after the Stockwells finished and Ace Studio struck the sound, it began to rain. The next morning, despite the number of gypsy moths who had descended on our trailer, we headed home, tired and happy after hearing first class music in a familiar and welcoming setting.