Heritage String Band
Sunday was a sunny, warm and pleasant day and the last day of the 159th edition of the Brooklyn CT. Agricultural Fair, the oldest continuously running fair in the U.S. Fans crowded into their seats under the tent, while others chose to sit on the hillside or stand on the lawn to hear the Heritage String Band play tunes from the 1840's up to late 1890's. Appropriately surrounded by antique farm tractors and clad in period costumes the band played tunes such as: Darling Nelly Gray; Wait for The Wagon; Long, Long Ago and others that are familiar to Bluegrassers, Cripple Creek; Arkansas Traveler; Soldiers Joy and tunes that I haven’t heard before: Irish Soldier Boy and Ring, Ring Da Banjo. Each tune brought forth a short history lesson from band leader, Ed Quigley who explained the sentiments and events of the time, that shaped the thoughts of the writer. This made the songs even more enjoyable.
The band was able to hold its audience through an hour of music, which is unusual at a Fair, it’s more common for this type of audience to stay for one or two tunes and then move on, there’s just so much to see and do at a fair of this size, moreover, many of the same folks came back an hour later for the second set.
The bouncy, energetic repertoire, had everybody tapping their feet and many singing the lyrics to the songs, which surprised me, after all, these tunes were from the 1800's. The band provided extraordinary entertainment and it’s easy to see why they’re invited back year after year.
The rest of the band
Ed, known as the "Commander" formed the band in 2000 so that this music that he loves will be carried on. Ed does most of the narration before the songs are performed and also plays percussion
Jim is adroit at singing irish tunes from over three decades of performing at an Irish Pub, he also plays banjo, accordion and tin whistle
Bud Savoie plays fiddle, banjo, mandolin and does some of the vocals as well, he also arranges many of the tunes
Leo plays a hot harmonica and adds some humor to the group
Dan Donovan sings lead and plays banjo, guitar and washboard and sings darn well too
Smiling Ken Taylor plays guitar in this band and sings some of the lead but he's also known for his fine bass playing with the Blackstone Valley Bluegrass Band
Cherrie, nicknamed "Minnie Pearl" for her straw hat and long dress, keeps the band on track with her steady bass rhythm and energetic presence