Bluegrass Bash

Music to fill Carrollton's Point Park

Third annual bluegrass festival set for mid-July

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

CARROLLTON, Ky. (July 2004) – Gary Strong can’t remember a time when a traditional bluegrass instrument was not found around his house. He learned from an early age that this music, with its deep Appalachian roots, would be the manna that fueled his musical soul.

Hard Times band

Photo provided

Gary Strong and the Hard Times band.

Gary Strong & Hard Times will be among the lineup for the third annual Bluegrass Bash, Back to the Past for the Future on July 9-10 at Carrollton’s Point Park. Strong, a Grant County native, said there is a larger audience for Bluegrass music now than ever.
He learned to play bluegrass from his father, who taught him three basic chords. He believes it is important to get youth involved in this musical genre. Strong sits on the board of the Carroll County Bluegrass Music Association, the organization responsible for organizing this Bluegrass Bash.
Strong said his band plays “good traditional bluegrass music.” He has played bluegrass music off and on throughout the years, beginning with a band known as the Lickin’ Valley Boys from 1975-1979. His band, Hard Times, originated in 1979. His brother Tim plays mandolin, Wayne Fields plays banjo and Jim West rounds out the lineup on bass. They play mostly local venues now, but Strong said he has traveled to California, Florida, Michigan and Ohio to perform.

Dan Branaman Band

Photo provided

The Dan Branaman bluegrass band.

The bluegrass audience has steadily increased in the last few years and the music is now performed and enjoyed around the world. Not just traditional “mountain music” anymore, bluegrass bands today include influences from a variety of sources including traditional and fusion jazz, contemporary country music, Celtic music, and Southern gospel.
Strong has worked for radio stations for the past 18 years in the greater Cincinnati area. He is now affiliated with the syndicated Red Barn Radio Program, a Richmond, Ky., program that airs “The Bluegrass Express” from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays on WCYO (100.7 FM). The radio station will tape a segment featuring youth performers at this year’s Bluegrass Bash to air at a later date.
Strong will perform with his band at 10:30 p.m. Friday. Other scheduled performers for the weekend’s lineup include the Moron Brothers, Hoosier Hills Bluegrass, James While & Deer Creek, Dan Branaman & Tri-County Bluegrass, Glory Bound, New Generation, Kentucky Blue, Lost Mill String Band, Interstate Bluegrass Band, Circle of Friends, Cousins of Bluegrass, No Tools Loaned and the Gallatin County Middle School Bluegrass Band.
This latter band has had an instructor teaching them bluegrass basics for the past three years, said event organizer Clay Cable, who will also perform with his band, Interstate Bluegrass Band. Another featured band with young performers, Cousins of Bluegrass, is comprised of 9-year-old mandolin player Caleb Dezarn and 12-year-old banjo player Ryan Gates.
Bluegrass Bash organizer Debbie Allen said the festival is also for the youth of Carrollton. Getting them interested is “the main thing.”
Allen has assisted in organizing the festival for the last two years and said there was a pretty good turnout last year.

The festival runs from 6 p.m.-midnight Friday, and noon-midnight Saturday. Tickets are $8 Friday, $15 Saturday or $20 for a two-day pass. Children under 14 are free. Seniors receive 20 percent discount. Advance tickets are $16. Primitive camping is available on site. For more information, contact the tourism office at 1-800-325-4290, Allen at (502) 732-0608 or Cable at (502) 732-8742. Or visit: www.carrolltontourism.com.

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