Thursday, May 20, 2010

Strawberry Park - Preston, CT - Preview

Strawberry Park Amphitheatre
Perhaps the premier New England bluegrass festival, Strawberry Park kicks off its 2010 outdoor season opening program on Thursday, June 3 with three great bands and closes on Sunday with Rockin' Acoustic Circus followed by The Greencards, two bands which ought to keep the audience glued to their seats right through the end.  From top to bottom, this year's lineup at Strawberry Park is exciting, engaging, and crafted to appeal to nearly everyone, offering bands new and unfamiliar to the region, while bringing back tried and true favorites well-loved in New England.  If you've never been to Strawberry Park before, this is the year to come!

Strawberry Park Debuts
 A number of bands will be making their main stage debut at Strawberry Park this year, including music ranging from quite traditional to progressive bluegrass through plugged in country rock with bluegrass roots. 

Marty Stuart and the Fablulous Superlatives
The exquisitely an ironically named Marty Stuart and  Fabulous Superlatives will appear for one long set on Saturday night. Stuart's long career began in the 1970's when he played with Lester Flatt for several years before touring for six years with Johnny Cash.  Stuart has won four Grammys, is a member of the Grand Old Opry, and is well-known as a collector of bluegrass and country memorabilia.  He still plays a mean bluegrass mandolin.  His show is lively and fun.

Marty Stuart

Junior Sisk & Rambler's Choice

Junior Sisk is noted for having one of the best tenor voices in Bluegrass Music.  With his band, Rambler's Choice, he was nominated as IBMA Emerging Entertainer of the Year for 2009.  His sound is traditional, and most of his songs are as contemporary as yesterday, many written by his cousin and band mate Tim Massey.  The band has recently had some personnel changes, adding Jason Davis (formerly of Grasstowne) on banjo and Greg Moore (formerly a member of the James King Band) on fiddle. Junior is a master of the contemporary high lonesome sound.

Junior Sisk

Tim Massey and Junior

Dailey & Vincent
Dailey & Vincent have only been on the bluegrass circuit as a band for three years.  During that time, they have twice won the IBMA Entertainer of the Year Award as well as seven other major IBMA awards, an unprecedented showing for a start-up band.  This band has, however, impeccable bluegrass lineage, with Jamie Dailey having spent nine years singing for Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver while Darrin Vincent spent an equal amount of time in Ricky Skaggs' band.  Other band members have similar distinguished experience.  They are currently touring in support of their tribute to the Statler Brothers CD available only at Cracker Barrel. 

Jamie Dailey, Jeff Parker & Darrin Vincent

Red Molly
Red Molly appeared on the Folk Stage last year and conducted a workshop on vocal harmony.  This will be their first appearance on the Strawberry Park Amphitheatre.  This band, composed of three young women, is noted for its singer/songwriter compositions and fine, close harmony.  They recently attracted a huge crowd on the Americana Stage at Merlefest and garnered kudos for their interlude set on the Cabin Stage.  This is a very satisfying bluegrass/folk tinged band whose songs range wide in subject matter.

Wayne Taylor & Appaloosa

Wayne Taylor's voice has long been familiar to bluegrass audiences for his leadership of the U.S. Navy band Country Currents.  On his recent retirement from the Navy he formed Wayne Taylor & Appaloosa.  Taylor's highly recognizable voice and intelligent song selection combine with Emory Lester's very fine mandolin play to form the core of this excellent band.

Darin & Brooke Aldridge

Darin & Brooke Aldridge come from Cherryville, NC and have been broadening their audience as a band for about two years, having produced two well-received CD's.  Their latest self titled album was produced by veteran Jerry Salley and contains a solid mix of bluegrass/southern gospel music and country/bluegrass songs.  Darin and Brooke came together as a bluegrass gospel duo and have added secular material to their repertoire without diluting their spiritual commitment. Darin toured with The Country Gentlemen during the last nine years of Charlie Waller's life and was also a principal in The Circuit Riders. Brooke's powerful singing combines with Darin's solo tenor and harmonies to create a perfect duo backed by an excellent band.  This is the band's first appearance north of the Mason-Dixon line.

The Rockin' Acoustic Circus
 Promo Photo from Band web site

The Rockin Acoustic Circus is a young band reaching out from its home in Oklahoma.  Since I've never seen this band before nor really heard of them, I had to rely on their web site, a list of some of their upcoming bookings, and the videos shown on their web site.  Based on this information, they should be well worth staying late into Sunday afternoon for their set preceding The Greecards' closing.  Here's one of the video's that particularly caught my attention, but, if you're interested, you should look at several of them:

Field Pickin' in the Rough Camping Area

The Schedule

(All concerts to be held at our Amphitheatre, unless noted)
Program & Performers subject to change

6:00 PM Amy Gallatin & Stillwaters Amphitheatre
7:00 PM The Farewell Drifters Amphitheatre
8:30 PM Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice Amphitheatre

FRIDAY, JUNE 4, 2010
12:00 NOON Daily & Vincent Amphitheatre
1:00PM The Farewell Drifters Amphitheatre
2:00PM The Gibson Brothers Amphitheatre
3:00 PM Amy Gallatin & Stillwaters Amphitheatre
4:00PM Peter Rowan Amphitheatre
6:00PM The Boston Boys Amphitheatre
7:00PM Daily & Vincent Amphitheatre
8:15 PM Peter Rowan Amphitheatre
9:30PM The Gibson Brothers Amphitheatre

and introducing our Folk Music Stage on Saturday, featuring…
Dala, Della Mae, Vance Gilbert, The Kennedys, Red Molly & Tracy Grammer

12:00 NOON Red Molly Amphitheatre
1:00 PM Dry Branch Fire Squad Amphitheatre
2:00 PM The Greencards Amphitheatre
3:00 PM The Boston Boys Amphitheatre
4:00 PM Kenny & Amanda Smith Amphitheatre
5:00PM DINNER BREAK Amphitheatre
6:00 PM Wayne Taylor & Appaloosa Amphitheatre
7:00 PM Kenny & Amanda Smith Amphitheatre
8:15 PM The Greencards Amphitheatre
9:30 PM Marty Stuart & Fabulous Superlatives Amphitheatre

Folk Music and Dance Venue
 1:00PM  Tracy Grammer
2:15PM The Kennedys
3:30PM  Dala
5:00PM Della Mae
6:00PM Dinner Break
7:00PM Vance Gilbert
8:15PM Red Molly
9:30PM Tripping Lily

SUNDAY, JUNE 6, 2010
Our Sunday morning Gospel Hour will be hosted by the Dry Branch Fire Squad
10:00 AM Dry Branch Fire Squad Amphitheatre
11:30 AM Darin & Brooke Aldridge Amphitheatre
1:30 PM Rockin’ Acoustic Circus Amphitheatre
3:00 PM The Greencards Amphitheatre

Old Favorites Returning

A bunch of Strawberry Park favorites will be returning, brought back by popular demand.  Space limitations prohibit lengthy comments.  A number of these will be vying this fall for major IBMA awards while others are pure pleasure to see again and to hear live.  So many of these bands are among our favorites, it's difficult to highlight any of them, but here are some pictures. I'll be posting daily from Strawberry Park with more pictures of all these bands.

Leigh Gibson

 Eric Gibson

Amy Gallatin

Carol Young  (The Greencards)

Kym Warner (The Greencards)
Dry Branch Fire Squad

The Farewell Drifters

Kenny & Amanda Smith

Peter Rowan

In addition to first rate performances on the main stage, Strawberry Park attendees can expect to see and hear a strong Saturday set of singers and pickers on the Folk Stage.  Their schedule is above.  Of particular interest is the band Della Mae, which had a very strong reception at Merlefest.  The schedule for instrumental workshops has not yet been finalized, but last year's lineup included some of the finest instrumentalists and song writers in bluegrass music.  

Red Molly Presenting Vocal Harmony Workshop

The Kids Academy

Each year the Kids Academy for Bluegrass Music, under the direction of Tim St. Jean and Vickie Baker, has provided first rate instruction for two days and then showcased the young pickers on stage early Sunday afternoon.  In order to get further information about enrolling your child in this very worthwhile and enjoyable program, click here.   

Strawberry Park is a full service resort campground with lovely, shaded campsites. It also has park model trailer rentals and other trailers for rent.  Campground facilities include a full service camp snack bar that offers delicious breakfasts, ice cream, and full meals.  Several swimming pools and a range of other recreational activities provide plenty for children and a morning bingo game offers a popular change of pace from bluegrass.  Last year's festival vendors were more varied and interesting than in previous years and included two high quality food vendors to complement the Park's food services.

 The Snack Bar

The Bouncer

Kim Cyr - Emcee

Jammin with the Shaws

Strawberry Park Can Be Found Here

Information concerning tickets and camping can be found here. This is one of the premier bluegrass events of the New England season.  As I worked on this preview I became increasingly excited about the event.  I hope to see you there, and please stop Irene or me to say hello. Incidentally, there's a good chance that Dr. Tom Bibey will be making his first bluegrass trip to the northeast for this festival, maybe with his new book in hand.  Look for him, too.  He's the guy with one blue eye and one green eye.

1 comment:

  1. thanks Ted...your input and wonderful photos are always appreciated, and we look forward to having you and Irene join us once again.