CARROLLTON, Ky. (July 2004) Gary Strong cant 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
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 Carrolltons 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 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
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 years 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 weekends 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
Bluegrass Bash organizer Debbie Allen said the festival is also for
the youth of Carrollton. Getting them interested is the main
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.