WinterWonderGrass 2018

By Natalie Gorak

What a snow filled and bluegrass-laden weekend it was! Friday’s festivities kicked off with three separate bands playing in the heated tents while breweries served up fresh samples for festivalgoers. 

Local Steamboat Springs band, Buffalo Commons, played to an energetic crowd before Jon Stickley Trio kicked things off on the main stage. Trout Steak Revival picked up where Jon Stickley Trio left off and filled the festival grounds with high-energy bluegrass, playing many tunes off of their latest album. 

Trout Steak’s guitar and mandolin player Steve Foltz noted that staying warm at an outdoor winter festival is not as difficult as one might imagine; some thermal layers, a hat and the right amount of whiskey is all you need. 

Friday night began to wind down with a main stage show from Elephant Revival, whose sound will be greatly missed while they take a hiatus this year, and was closed out with a high energy Yonder Mountain String Band set. Fat snowflakes filled the air as night one drew to a close. 

Saturday was another stacked day of music with Wisconsin based Horseshoes & Hand Grenades kicking off main stage music at 3:00 p.m. The Lil Smokies followed on the main stage, while Billy Strings and others played the heated tents as festivalgoers sampled beer for a second day. 

Fruition played the first of two shows as the sun set on day two, and Greensky Bluegrass closed the main stage with a rocking “Burn Them” rendition featuring guests Jay Starling (Dobro), and Andy Dunnigan (Dobro) and Allie Kral (fiddle). 

The night did not end there though, as The Lil Smokies played a late night show, in which attendees boarded one of the ski hill’s gondolas and rode through a winter storm up the mountain to a high energy 90+ minutes of bluegrass. 

Day three dawned sunny and warmer than the previous two, and by the afternoon musicians and attendees alike were ready to end the weekend with as much energy as it started. Billy Strings played the main stage to a large crowd and played various songs off his new album, including the album’s title song “Turmoil & Tinfoil.” 

The Travelin’ McCourys held the second to last spot on the main stage and got the crowd nice and warm with their unique blend of traditional bluegrass and jamband-esque sound. Leftover Salmon closed WWG’s main music area with a reggae/bluegrass/rock mashup, complete with WWG founder Scotty Stoughton (of Bonfire Dub) lending his voice to the vocals. The music officially ended at a late night show held at the Grand Ballroom, where The Travelin’ McCourys and Fruition played to a sold out crowd. 

The weekend was chocked full of sit-ins, fast pickin’ and jams that define the Colorado bluegrass scene, and all who attended could feel the camaraderie and energy that only comes from a shared sense of love for the music.