Rhonda Vincent is a dynamo. Performing over 100 dates year after year, featured on Larry's Country Diner on RFD-TV and singing harmony on dozens of recordings a year, she seems to be everywhere, but not overexposed as audiences come to hear their favorite bluegrass singer, who never sits down after a show until the last fan has left the Rhonda Vincent Boutique. At Strawberry Park Rhonda closed out the evening on Thursday, following her set with a jam with fans, then two sets and a guest appearance on Friday. Wow!
The Gibson Brothers have ascended into the stratosphere of bluegrass bands through hard work, dedication to their craft, superior song writing which has become increasingly dominant in their performances, the high quality of their musicianship, and the nature and quality of their brotherly banter, all demonstrated in the video below. While fiddler Clayton Campbell appears to be on sabbatical from the band, the high quality of interaction and musical excitement remains. Jesse Brock's work on mandolin draws cheers for his intense solos. Their performance tonight as part of a single ninety minute set was highlighted by Rhonda Vincent's guest stint, which is also part of the video.
Dailey & Vincent brought their big show to the stage of Strawberry Park to close Friday night. Their performance was fast paced, varied, and lively. The addition of Gaven Largent on Dobro as well as banjo, the two quirkiest instruments to play, has strengthened the left side of the band. Since Dailey & Vincent feature a number of songs, particularly gospel and patriotic ones, where the banjo might not be seen as an appropriate instrument, the addition of the Dobro to the instrumental mix is welcome. Largent, while young, is a master at both. Seth Taylor's return to the band, on an semi-regular basis while he also continues to perform with Mountain Heart, is welcome for both his excellent guitar work and pleasant stage personality. Patrick McAvinue, 2017 IBMA Fiddle Player of the Year, continues to deliver pure excellence here, as he has at each stop in his career. This very good ninety minute performance closed an excellent day at Strawberry Park.
Jeff Parker, the last remaining member of the original Dailey & Vincent beside the two founders, will be missed when he departs to form his own band. He's been a reliable vocal addition as well as serving as a useful comic foil with grace and good humor.
The Kruger Brothers don't simply sing songs, they provide a musical experience bringing their audiences from tears to laughter as they weave folk songs, bluegrass, rock covers, and Jens Kruger's classical compositions for bluegrass band and symphony orchestra together into music that touches the heart while challenging expectations of what music can be. Jens is well-recognized as one of the world's finest banjo masters, while brother Uwe on guitar is without peer. Joel Landsbrrg, the "third Kruger brother," is crucial tying their music together on the bass. While the Kruger Brothers on record are excellent, their live performances defy description. See them if you can!
Gale Wade has a warm, winning personality and writes good songs, often about her love for horses. Like many New England musicians, she performs with at least three bands we've seen as well as singer/songwriter sessions in coffee house settings. We've seen her from New England to Tennessee. Along with Tim St. Jean on squeeze box and mandolin and Joe DeLillo on bass, she earned the enthusiastic encore the audience awarded her.