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Pomfret, CT, United States
I use this blog to maintain and promote bluegrass and to showcase artists and festivals.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Podunk Festival Preview

Surrounded by a bustling city, picturesque Martin Park sits on 26 acres of open space in East Hartford CT. Fortunately for fans of Bluegrass on the last day of July through the third day of August it becomes a mecca for music. It's baseball diamond will become a concert area with stage and tents for the artists and the audience, and its perimeter will be lined with food vendors, instrument dealers and more.Its fields will become campsites and workshops for the hundreds of fans that stream into the park to enjoy one of the strongest lineups in Bluegrass bands today.

photo by Larry Bilansky

The Larry Stephenson Band will take the stage on Saturday for two sets. Larry is one of the most prominent tenors in bluegrass, winner of the SPBGMA "Contemporary Male Vocalist Award in 2001, 2004, 2005, and 2006 and also a member of the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame.

Larry Stephenson

The Dale Ann Bradley Band can be heard for two days, aah, what a treat, I fell in love with her voice immediately, it's unique, smooth, clear and the kind of voice that can make an otherwise forgetable song, unforgetable Can't wait to see her.

Dale Ann Bradley

Dan Paisley and Southern Grass has to be one of the hardest working bands around, they seem to be booked at most of the Festivals in the country and it's no wonder, they provide PURE bluegrass delivered at a blistering pace, very little banter on stage, just song after song. Dan's voice is made for grass, high tenor, nuance, emotion, he's got it all. Happily, he's surrounded by super talent: Donnie Eldreth on mandolin; Bob Lundy on banjo; TJ Lundy on fiddle and Mike Paisley on bass.

Dan Paisley

The Steeldrivers are a group of veteran songwriters/studio musicians/performers who've decided to come together and take their brand of bluegrass to the masses. Singing mostly original music penned by the band, particularly Chris Stapleton and Mike Henderson, the strong, gruff, bluesy voice of Stapleton is the sound of the band. Mike Henderson, an award winning songwriter whose songs have been done by the Dixie Chicks, Kenny Rogers and many other top Nashville artists plays mandolin and sings harmony. Tammy Rogers on fiddle and vocals comes from a bluegrass family and has played and sung all her life as well as touring with the likes of Trisha Yearwood and Reba McEntire. Grammy nominated Richard Bailey plays the banjo and veteran Mike Fleming plays bass and baritone vocals. This is a group you wont forget.

The Steeldrivers

The Infamous Stringdusters captured the IBMA's 2007 "Album of the Year Award" with their CD titled "Fork in the Road", its title track won "Song of the Year" and the band won "Emerging Artists of the Year", that ought to tell you there worth the ticket price right there. Known for their virtuosity and gifted improvisation this band is not to be missed. The members are: Andy Hall, dobro; Andy Falco, guitar; Chris Pandolfo, banjo; Jeremy Garrett, fiddle; Jesse Cobb, mandolin and Travis Brook bass.

Infamous Stringdusters

Nothin Fancy is a band of really friendly, genuine, human beings that can also play and sing bluegrass, in fact they do that so well that SPBMGA awarded them "Entertaining Group of the Year" in 2008. Known for strong vocals and dynamic instrumentation, this band has developed a devoted fan base, many say that if they were only allowed to see one band a year it would be "Nothin Fancy". With Mike Andes on lead vocals and mandolin and guitar; Mitchell Davis on banjo; Gary Ferris sings tenor and plays guitar; Chris Sexton on fiddle and on bass Tony Shorter.

Nothin Fancy

2005 IBMA's "Entertainer of the Year," "Grammy" nominated in 2006 Cherryholmes is known for beautiful harmony an aggressive rhythm style, drive, and high energy. I especially like how each member of the band gets to highlight their talent as they take turns singing lead or soloing on their instrument. In addition to bluegrass you'll see traditional country, twin fiddling, Irish step dancing and clawhammer style banjo. The Cherryholmes band appears often on the "Grand Ole Opry".Jere "Pop" the father of the clan, emcees and sings and plays bass, Sandy Lee (Mom) handles the mandolin, sings, and switches to clawhammer banjo when needed. Cia Leigh plays banjo and sings beautifully at tenor and high baritone. BJ plays fiddle and sings lead and harmony. Skip plays both lead and rhythm guitar and sings as well. Molly Kate plays fiddle, sings lead and harmony.


2004 IBMA showcase band Cadillac Sky is best described as progressive, with superfast picking and edgy vocals. Bryan Simpson plays mandolin, fiddle and sings lead. Brian is an accomplished songwriter as well with some of his work recorded by several mainstream country artists. Matt Menefee is an award winning banjo player. Mike Jump plays a hot guitar, Andy Moritz plays bass and Ross Holmes does the fiddle playing.

Cadillac Sky

With a sweet, warm, lilting voice Claire Lynch has long been a favorite of the bluegrass world. She's won IBMA's "Female Vocalist of the Year" and has had two Grammy nominations for Best Bluegrass Album. She's received praise from Dolly Parton, Pam Tillis, Patty Loveless as being one of the best vocalists in the business today. She's surrounded by talent as well. Jim Hurst, her guitarist has won two IBMA Guitarist of the Year awards and Mark Schatz two IBMA Bass Player of the Year awards. Jason Thomas plays superb chops on fiddle and mandolin. I know you'll love this band.

Claire Lynch

Dailey and Vincent have to be the hottest band in bluegrass today. The lead singers Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent have won so many awards over the life of their careers I don't have room to list them. Jamie played with Doyle Lawson and Qicksilver for about nine years and then decided to try a new direction with his friend Darrin Vincent. Darrin was a member of the Ricky Scaggs and Kentucky Thunder Band for ten years. Darrin plays bass, mandolin and does lead and baritone vocals, Jamie sings lead, tenor and baritone and plays guitar.

Dailey and Vincent

The other bands performing are: Gravity from Sweden; Auldridge, Lester and Ferguson with Gail Wade ( a wonderful singer from CT )Keene Hyatt and Marc Roy; Karl Shiflett and Big Country; The Muellers; Blue Moon Rising; Larry Cordle, Carl Jackson and Jerry Salley; Joy Kills Sorrow; Tony Trischka; Blistered Fingers and Pine Mountain Railroad.
A popular event on Sunday is the performance of the Kids Academy Band. Tutored and mentored by accomplished CT musicians Tim St.Jean and Vicki Baker and staff the kids learn a little more about their instruments, how to play in a group and how to present themselves on stage.

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