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One of the most enjoyable activities for any Bluegrass fan is to spend a warm summer day outdoors listening to the sounds of banjos and fiddles, guitars and mandolins (with rhythm provided by a "doghouse" bass). Connecticut is the home of FOUR fine Bluegrass festivals each year, and whatever your preference in BG music, be it the more traditional sound or something a bit more contemporary, chances are pretty good you're going to hear something you like at one of these great upcoming festivals:
Strawberry Park Bluegrass Festival - Preston, CT -- June 3-6
The Granddaddy of the CT BG festivals, this year will mark the 33rd Bluegrass festival for Strawberry Park. The lineup includes a pretty eclectic mix of all types of performers under the very broad category of "Bluegrass." Performers include Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice, Amy Gallatin & Stillwaters, the Farewell Drifters, Dailey & Vincent, the Gibson Brothers, Peter Rowan, the Boston Boys, Dry Branch Fire Squad, Kenny & Amanda Smith, the Greencards, Wayne Taylor & Appaloosa, Darin & Brooke Aldridge, the Rockin' Acoustic Circus, and Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives. In addition, Strawberry Park offers workshops by some of the performers on Friday and Saturday with topics as varied as vocal arranging, "playing in the groove," and songwriting. For those who enjoy listening to Folk music, there is a separate Folk Stage on Saturday at Strawberry Park with Tracy Grammer, the Kennedys, Dala, Della Mae, Vance Gilbert, Red Molly, and Tripping Lily. More information for Strawberry Park, including prices and location can be found at www.strawberrypark.net, click here, or call the park toll-free at 1-888-794-7944.
Mineral Springs Family Campground Foot Stomp'n Festival - Stafford Springs, CT -- July 2-4
While the overall atmosphere at this festival is low-key, the great talent featured is anything but low-key. In fact, it's there that you'll find a whole bunch of the best BG bands you'll find in Connecticut and southern New England. This year's lineup features Acoustic Blue, Amy Gallatin & Stillwaters, Charter Oak Bluegrass, Crossover, Gail Wade & Turning Point, GrassRoutes, the Old Time Bluegrass Singers, Southern Rail, and TrueGrass. For information on the campground, visit www.mineralspringscampground.com, click here, or call (860)684-2993.
Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival - East Hartford, CT -- August 5-8
2010 marks the 15th year of this great festival, which is held during the first full weekend in August. Podunk features a beautiful setting -- Martin Park is a bit of the country nestled in the City of East Hartford. The lineup features top-notch national talent, as well as some of the best regional bands. Here's a listing: David Davis & the Warrior River Boys, Blackstone Valley Bluegrass, the Expedition Show, Southern Rail, James Reams & the Barnstormers, the Freight Hoppers, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, the Greencards, Hot Buttered Rum, the Packway Handle Band, the Earl Brothers, Next Best Thing, the Josh Williams Band, Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, the Gibson Brothers, and Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder. As at Strawberry Park, there are great workshops during the festival, and on Sunday, there's a band competition. Lots of information can be found at www.podunkbluegrass.net, click here, or call (860)291-7166.
Hartland Hollow Bluegrass Festival - East Hartland, CT -- September 18
Unlike the other CT festivals, Hartland Hollow is a one-day only event. This festival is held on Berg Field in East Hartland, and each year is a benefit for Camp Alice Merritt. Great regional bands from throughout New England are the featured performers, and this year, the lineup will include Shoregrass, Cindy Rines & Mad River Crossing, Acoustic Blue, TrueGrass, Bear Minimum, Crossover, and Old Country Road. More information, including band bios and directions on how to get to Berg Field can be found at www.hartlandhollowbluegrass.com, click here, or call (860)844-8526.
Of course, if you're someone who really loves BG festivals, you KNOW there are lots of festivals held every summer throughout New England, but a lot more of them happen in northern New England (mainly in Maine, of course) than here in southern New England. If you'd like information on all of the festivals in New England and New York, you may wish to acquire a copy of Candi Sawyer's Bluegrass Guide. Be sure to listen to the "Bluegrass Cafe," as well, when each week, we try to keep you updated on the BG happenings in New England during our calendar segment, generally starting around 6PM each Sunday.
Hope to see you at one (or more!) of these great festivals this summer!