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

Monday, June 13, 2011

Bluegrass Sweethearts

The Darin and Brooke Aldridge Band

Darin and Brooke Aldridge

Finally got to see and hear the Darin and Brooke Aldridge Band. They were on the Folk Stage at Strawberry Park's Bluegrass Festival on Saturday and they were scheduled for the Bluegrass stage the next day. They were playing to a moderate crowd as most people were at the bluegrass stage just down the road. Their set sounded more bluegrass than folk and was really good listening. They are called the "Sweethearts of Bluegrass," because the love they have for each other is quite obvious and the music they make is full of love and hope for the world. Darin has played with the Country Gentlemen and other first rate bands. He's an accomplished songwriter too. Brooke possesses a powerfull voice and the two harmonize nicely. The overall band sound is really good. They'll be at the Jenny Brook FestivalJune 23 to 26 at the Tunbridge, VT Fairgrounds.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Strawberry Park Bluegrass Festival Saturday

Saturday's weather was perfect in Preston CT as the music began and it stayed that way the whole day, what a blessing. The Claire Lynch Band kicked off the days festivities with a fine performance that set the tone for the day and all the following groups equaled the high standard set by CLB. The audience was sparse for the early sets but steadily increased to a full house by late afternoon. I enjoyed all the music of the day whether it was bluegrass, swing, country, blues or jazz. It was done well, sounded great, and the musicians were superb.

Claire Lynch

Jason Thomas

Mark Schatz

Matt Wingate

The Greencards

Dry Branch Fire Squad

Ron Thomason

Brian Aldridge

Dan Russell

The Grascals

Jamie Johnson

Terry Eldredge

Kristin Scott Benson

Danny Roberts

Jeremy Abshire

Terry Smith

The Gibson Brothers

Leigh Gibson

Eric Gibson

Leigh and Mike Barber

Clayton Campbell

Joe Walsh

Jim Beaver

The MC's for the day did thier usual fine job of introducing and highlighting the accomplishments of the days bands, the work was shared by three veterans of the bluegrass scene, Glenn Huffer who's been at the podium at Strawberry Park for decades, Kim Cyr who heads up the CT Bluegrass Music website and promotes concerts at the Salem, Ct. Barn and Jim Beaver, the knowledgeable DJ at WHUS,91.7, in Storrs, Ct.

Glenn Huffer

Kim Cyr

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Spinney Brothers

The Spinney Brothers, an award winning band out of Canada, took the stage in Canterbury, CT. and quickly broke into song with high energy, broad smiles and exciting rhythm that instantly grabbed the large audience. They left no doubt this was going to be a great show. The band was impeccably dressed in bright blue shirts and ties with dark grey vests that was reminiscent of the early bluegrass bands that dressed to impress, and impress they did. The vocals by Allan and Rick were rich in tone and phrasing and strongly communicated emotion and the harmony blend was terrific, as good as I've ever heard. The instrumental solos were well done, highlighting the skills of each member and keeping in mind the melody of the piece they were doing. This group showed their confidence with the ease and lightness of their humor and certainly commanded the stage. I believe everyone in the hall went home a fan of this highly entertaining group of professionals who are sure to be a hit wherever they appear. The band members are: Allan Spinney on lead and harmony vocals and lead guitar, Rick Spinney on banjo and lead and harmony vocals, Gary Dalrymple on mandolin and harmony vocals, and Darryl Hebb on bass.

Allan Spinney

Rick Spinney

Gary Dalrymple

Gary and Allan

Darryl kept a steady back-beat for the guys and they spoke of how that is so important for their sound. The bass player is often overlooked but without that steady beat things can get sloppy.

Darryl Hebb

Amy Orlomoski, a popular DJ at WHUS's Bluegrass Cafe was the organizer of this event, she also served as MC. The event raised funds for the benefit of the Canterbury Historical Society.

Amy Orlomoski

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Blackstone Valley Bluegrass Band

On Saturday, the very popular Vanilla Bean Cafe in Pomfret CT. was host to a fundraiser for the CT. Audubon Society. The CAS has nearly completed its new Grasslands Education Center located in the middle of its 700 acre Nature Preserve on Day Road in Pomfret and as part of its effort to raise money for the project presented an evening of Bluegrass with the Blackstone Valley Bluegrass Band, a very talented group from Massachusetts lead by brothers Dave and Bob Dick with Ken Taylor on bass and Dan Nolan on mandolin. The band played bluegrass with a touch of country and folk and delivered some amazing three and four part harmony that was well received. The guitar, banjo, and mandolin breaks were superb, fast, yet not too far from the melody. The banter between the band members and the audience was funny and natural. For their encore they played and sang "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" while moving among the audience which proved to be a big hit. Folks I talked to thought it was a wonderful way to close out the evening.
The Vanilla Bean Cafe is known for great food and atmosphere and is on the New England Folk Music Circuit presenting some of the best in Folk Music and on occasion a Bluegrass group.

Dave Dick

Ken Taylor and Dan Nolan

Bob Dick, Dan Nolan and Dave Dick

Bob Dick

Dan and Ken

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bear Bridge

The "Bear Bridge Band," whose members come from Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut, paid a visit to the Killingly,CT. Grange on Saturday for a rare performance, the band hasn't been playing dates of late. They put on a great show for the nearly full house. Organized by Nick Anderson, a long time Bluegrasser, the series runs through the winter months and features Nick's band, "Shady Creek" and a different guest band for each concert. The series is always well attended sometimes filling the house. Many of the top regional New England bands can be expected to appear as well as a few local acts. A good part of the regular audience seem to be people not seen at other Bluegrass venues leading me to think they're not so much Bluegrass fans but more likely drawn to the shows for some tasty inexpensive food, good music and a night out in a friendly safe place. They sure do appreciate the talented musicians as they always applaud loudly and with enthusiasm and they keep coming back. I think promoters should take their cue from this and plan to have their event catered by local groups that already have a reputation for good food at reasonable prices and use the sales revenue for good works, this may increase ticket sales. I say this because I've been to events that feature top National Touring bands, yet draw small crowds. I wonder if they used this format instead of just snacks of candy and chips and the like, would they fill more seats. Could it be that people want to make a night of it by having hot food and sandwiches before the nights entertainment, sort of a "sit down supper," followed by the music. I can tell you that the venues that use this format have very good turnouts. It seems to work and might be worth a look.

The Bear Bridge Band

Robert Fraker

Robert Fraker heads up the Bear Bridge Band with his fine mandolin pickin and vocals. This was a rare appearance for the band as most of the members are involved in other projects. I enjoy the way Robert introduces a song with some anecdotal information on its origin and who has recorded it in the past, makes the song special when you know of its history.

Lillian Fraker

Lillian keeps the band in perfect time with her solid bass rhythm, and her bass runs will make you sit up and pay attention. As Doc Watson often remarks when hearing talented musicians, "Man, she can play the fire out of that thing."

Dave "Tex" Orlomoski

Tex is a fine lead vocalist with a smooth confident delivery. His guitar solos are always good and he too can tell interesting stories about the songs and artists he has met along the way.

Dave Shaw

Dave Shaw was solid on the banjo and his lead vocal and harmony added to the nights performance.

William Trickett

The Shady Creek Band, fronted by Nick Anderson, with Joe Giard sitting in on mandolin, Elise LaFlamme on fiddle, William Trickett on banjo and dobro, and Mark Doyle banging the bass, is always a crowd pleaser. They do so many of the early traditional songs, they really get the audience engaged and stomping their feet. Always a good evening at the Grange. Next month," Amy Gallatin and Stillwaters" with Roger Williams on dobro will fill out the bill. Come early for the fine food from the Grange kitchen.

Elise, Mark Doyle and Robert

Joe Giard,Elise LaFlamme and Nick Anderson

Friday, March 11, 2011

Strawberry Park

The "Strawberry Park Bluegrass Festival" is on. TD Bank purchased the campground for $8 million at foreclosure auction and has agreed to set aside $135,000 for the operating expenses to allow the site to open April 1st. Elite Resorts which has been operating the campground as the receiver has earmarked $50,000 for the booking of bands for both the Bluegrass festival and the Zydeco festival.
The "Bluegrass Festival" has always been a success so this is great news both for fans and artists. The lineup, which is subject to change, lists the Dailey and Vincent Band, the Gibson Brothers, Claire Lynch, the Grascals, lll Tyme Out, the Boxcars, the Dry Branch Firesquad, and many others.
Check out the schedule

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Killingly Grange Winter Concerts

Mike Boulay

Mike Boulay and the Hope Valley Volunteers made some new fans Saturday night at the Killingly CT. Grange hall. This group lit the place up with their revved up pickin and fine vocals and smooth harmonies. This is a confident bunch of pickers who know how to please an audience. They run an entertaining and fun set poking fun at themselves with anecdotes about their playing and their history as a band. Mike Fischman quipped "the band used to be called, "Mike Boulay and Friends," but when Mike ran out of friends he had to call in "Volunteers." The comedy did not get in the way of the music, however, they were dead serious about the way they present their music, and it was good, mostly traditional with a boogie tune now and then. Band members are: Mike Boulay on guitar, lead and harmony vocals, Joe Giard on mandolin, lead and harmony vocals, Mike Fischman on banjo and harmony vocals, and Rory McLeod on bass. This is a band that you need to see. They perform at the "Wood River Inn" on Rt.138 in Richmond R.I. on the 3rd. Sunday of the month

Mike Boulay and the Hope Valley Volunteers

Mike Boulay

Joe Giard and Mike Boulay

Rory McLeod

Mike Fischman plays banjo, guitar, mandolin, and probably more, you may know him as the DJ at WRIU radio's "Bluegrass Breakdown," from the campus of the University of Rhode Island.

Mike Fischman

The host band of this series is "Nick Anderson and Shady Creek," Nick does the heavy work of finding good bands to fill out the bill of his winter series. He and his band always put on a good show at the Grange and he's developed a loyal following. Nick usually sticks to bands that fall under the "traditional" umbrella and that seems to be what his audience wants. The band members are: Monty McLanahan on mandolin and lead and harmony vocals, William Trickett on banjo, dobro, and harmony vocals, Elise LaFlamme on fiddle and harmony vocals, and Mark Doyle on bass and harmony vocals.

The Shady Creek Band

Nick Anderson

William Trickett

Monty McLanahan

Elise LaFlamme

Mark Doyle

To close out the evening, the two bands joined forces for a half dozen songs and tunes. It was high energy and a perfect ending to a terrific show.