WINTERWONDERGRASS CO 2018
FESTIVAL EXPERIENCE ARCHIVE
for The Lot Scene by Lindsay
6th Annual Winter Wondergrass Festival - An Experiential Journey of Colorado Connectedness
Winter Wondergrass is not to be taken lightly. With temperatures barely rising above 20 and constant snowfall, it can seem like a daunting experience. Logistics can seem overbearing for the first-timer: Who’s driving who? Do I book a lodge close to the festival or stay at a friend’s house an Uber ride away? Do I fly into Steamboat or Denver? How many jackets is too many jackets? (The answer is none. Bring all the jackets.) Even the drive can make you sweat: Why did I wear all my layers in the car? You begin to disrobe; your bestie in the passenger seat pulls off your jacket, piling your layers in their lap. Crap, I forgot my new $200 ski gloves back in Denver, three hours away. But, be patient. This is all a part of the journey.
As you cross over Rabbit Ears Pass, the highway begins to widen, and you get your first glimpse of Steamboat Springs. The sunshine radiates over the ever-expansive valley; the town lies nestled along the sparkling Yampa River, adjacent to a mountain range that hugs the Western ski town. You smile as you see the white tents of the festival engulfed in the thick of it. And then your friend says he has an extra pair of gloves. Things are starting to fall into place. And you haven’t even gotten to the festival grounds yet. It’s at this moment when all the logistical uncertainties fade away. You’ve made it to the mecca of all Colorado festivals.
Dubbed by the creators as “part music festival, part beer tasting, part snow holiday and part family reunion,” Winter Wondergrass is an inextricably woven mountain gathering. Yes, it’s appeal is created by the unmatched lineup, award-winning microbrews and word-class skiing, But, at its core, Winter Wondergrass is solidified by the immaculate organization, the experiential winter journey and the organic connectedness of the community.
Jon Stickley Trio - Brad Parsons Band - Elephant Revival - Yonder Mountain String Band
The 6th Annual Winter Wondergrass Festival opened its doors on Friday afternoon with Jon Stickley Trio hitting the main stage. The sun was shining bright against the bluebird skies, and the Trio’s cosmic instrumentals acted as a soundtrack to the festival itself, mimicking an Opening Ceremony of sorts. Stickley looked out into the neon-clad crowd both in admiration and in awe.
In between the main stage acts, attendees could make their way into three different beer tents, all of which housed local breweries offering free tasters for the early attendees. You could warm up in the tents by means of body heat and award-winning hops. Not to mention dancing to epic sets by Brad Parsons, Old Salt Union and The Wooks.
As the sun began to set and the temperatures began to drop, people made their way to the main stage for one of Elephant Revival’s last shows for the foreseeable future. The frigid conditions triggered mic issues, causing the band to change opening songs right off the bat. It was quite literally a chilling set, wrought in emotion and unbridled beauty. Songs like “Raven”, “Tam Lin Set,” “Grace of a Woman,” and “Ring Around the Moon” brought tears to both the crowd and the band, instilling this sense of love, loss, and new beginnings. While the band encountered sound and communication issues throughout the set, the presence of two ex-members acted as the glue to keep it all together: stunning fiddle-gypsy, Bridget Law, and folk-singer extraordinaire, Sage Cook, who hasn’t been with the band in almost three years. It was almost as if those in the crowd and those on stage felt this sense of familiarity of hardship. It was cold. It was difficult. It was emotional. It was beautiful.
Following Elephant Revival’s set and checking into warmth of the tent sets (more Stickley, more Brad Parsons and more Old Salt Union), hordes of people trickled in to see Yonder Mountain String Band headline the first night. The snow started to fall even harder, and the liveliness of the audience erupted. Along the same theme of new beginnings, Allie Kral looked stunning, glowing as a momma-to-be in her fur lined, floor length peacoat and fur trapper hat. Her sound ignited the audience, bringing warmth to those who didn’t even know they needed it.
As most festivarians know, the real fun comes out late-night. Winter Wondergrass holds the intrepid “Grass After Dark,” and this year was stacked with so many great sets that it was difficult to choose. It’s recommended to check out the Gondola shows, where you can only access it by gondola, getting dropped off at one big summit party. People literally splayed out of the gondolas and stumbled into the venue. Grant Farm’s “Grantful Dead Revue” showcased the Friday night set, with epic Dead covers like “Althea” and “China Cat Sunflower > Know You Rider.”