What it’s like to attend RockyGrass Academy for the first time.Read More
Award-Winning Female Artists form "Super Group" for RockyGrass
Alison Brown gathered this group of amazing musicians together to record "Swept Away," the title track to Missy Raines' latest album, which Brown produced. The group is comprised of IBMA best instrument winners Raines (bass), Brown (banjo), Sierra Hull (mandolin), Becky Buller (fiddle) and Molly Tuttle (guitar).
Read about this bluegrass supergroup, performing at RockyGrass, in the June/July 2018 issue of Pow'r Pickin'!
Check out the cover article of the June - July 2018 Pow'r Pickin' to find out why Alison Brown is so excited to perform with this group. And, she tells us, "It wouldn’t be RockyGrass without a few surprise guests!"
You can get your own subscription to Pow'r Pickin' by becoming a member of the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society.
By Cathleen Norman
Like the return of the robin and Pasque flowers blooming beside the trail, MeadowGrass signals the end of spring and launch of summer. For ten years in a row, Rocky Mountain Highway and Steve Harris have brought a winning mix of Americana genres—strong on string bands and acoustic duos and drawing from local, regional, national and Canadian talent.
The music fest takes place May 25-27 on the pine-forest acres of Le Foret in the Black Forest north of Colorado Springs. New this year is a Friday beer tasting that surely showcases Pikes Peak Brewing and their newly debuted MeadowGrass Brew—a pleasant ale in a collectible can.
Lizzy Plotkin and her fiddle open the festival Friday afternoon. Plotkin played MeadowGrass two years ago, appearing with standouts Free the Honey band plying us with dazzling harmonies and musicianship from Western State University of Gunnison.
Local flatpickin’ bluegrass trio Mike Maddux & The Headliners play their first MeadowGrass. Maddux, a past award winner at the legendary Winfield National Flatpicking Championship, he also penned a column for Flatpicking Guitar Magazine. Mike plays in both the city and in mountain venues, and he also sustains a jazz career.
The Steel Wheels out of Virginia play almost-bluegrass with fast-paced guitar-bass-banjo-drums, joined by horns and drums and often keyboard. The band received Indie Music Awards, Americana category, for Best Song and for Best Album, They regularly take the stage at the Walnut Creek Music Festival at Winfield Kansas. The Tejon Street Corner Thieves close Friday night with their vaudevillian raunchgrass. A Pikes Peak Region staple, they also regularly play a circuit through Kansas-Missouri and tour out to Idaho-Washington-Oregon.
Saturday afternoon begins with two local singer-songwriters—sultry country songster Sandy Wells, followed by Edith of Colorado Springs’ Edith Makes a Paperchain. Texas-based Blue Water Highway Band liven things with their rhythmic indie-country vocal harmonies, accordion and drums.
Tallgrass play tunes that range from Kansas-style dirt-stomp to eloquent ditties. They perform at Front Range BBQ in west Colorado Springs a couple times a year. Grass It Up bluegrass return—the guys who popularized local bluegrass during their dozen-plus-years career in the Pikes Peak region. Their electric acoustic set with cigar-box instruments handcrafted by banjoist Jim Marsh was a memory-maker at MeadowGrass four years ago.
Funky folky Musketeer Gripweed bring along their “kindness factor.” The philosophy of peace and activism was created by bandleader “Reverend” Jason Downing, who teaches sociology at Colorado State University.
Saturday night headliner Ron Pope is a troubadour crooner raised in Marietta, Georgia. He plays all-original material around the country, alone and accompanied by a folk trio.
MeadowGrass continues its songwriting tradition with Sunday morning’s three songwriters-in-the-round, acousticians Edie Carey, Justin Roth and Sarah Sample. Indie-folk quartet Wild Rivers from Toronto roam between unplugged acoustic and all electric with drums.
Birmingham-birthed Banditos tickle the banjo, tap the drums and carry on with electric guitar, kazoo, tambourine and campy lyrics. Their specialty? Unleashed roadhouse played by six-piece honky tonk band spiced with Mary Beth Richardson’s sizzling vocals.
Nicki Bluhm caps Sunday evening with her new four-piece band. The alt-folk songstress has shared the stage with Ryan Adams and The Infamous Stringdusters, and she toured and recorded with her band The Gramblers, 2008-2014. Her “Remember Love Wins” became an anthem last year during the immigration protest.
Sunday after sundown Clem Hammond & The B3’s bring their boisterousness to the stage. The alter-ego of two strong Colorado Springs singer-songwriter-bluesmen Grant Sabin and Joe Johnson. Both play solo at Palmer Lake’s SpeedTrap acoustic cafe and also play large stages with impeccable bands.
So come on down and MeadowGrass with us. I’m going with eyes wide open since I realize I saw Nathaniel Rateliff perform in 2015 before he got huge.
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.