A Snowy, Musical Dream at WinterWonderGrass Steamboat

Winter WonderGrass 2020 - Billy Strings plays into the sunset! (Photo Credit: Molly McCormick)

(As much as DC Music Review wished that our photographer could have gotten on a plane out west, we were unable to.  All photos in this article have been graciously provided courtesy of Dylan Langille and Molly McCormick of Bonfire Entertainment) and Zach Mahone.


It was unlike anything this East Coast girl has gotten to see or experience before. Let’s face it, the winter so far for the mid-Atlantic region has been pretty much non-existent, and at this point, I think we’re all more ready for Spring than hopeful for some accumulation of the white stuff. Cut to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where the first of three WinterWonderGrass episodes took place from February 21-23, and the scene was precisely the opposite. A setting that couldn’t have been more ideal or picturesque for snow sporters and music lovers alike, where there was enough snow to last the DMV six winters over. 

A truly delightful experience through and through at WinterWonderGrass Photo Credit: Zach Mahone)

A truly delightful experience through and through at WinterWonderGrass Photo Credit: Zach Mahone)

In its 8th year, having grown and expanded year over year, attracting some of the best fans and artists there are, the festival kicked off Friday with some amazing first-day performances. One thing that you have to prepare for is, of course, the elements, which could range from snow to single digits as well as sunshine and powder days spent on the mountain getting in some runs before the music starts. While temperatures the first day were definitely the chilliest of the weekend, there was an entire cast of musicians that kept bodies moving and warm throughout the day, playing on the main stage as well as the three tented side stages located ​around the proximity of the main area, where fans got a bit of reprieve from the chill. These canopied tents provided some much needed shelter and a bit of a reprieve from the chill - but who really needed it with all the dancing going on.

A truly delightful experience through and through at WinterWonderGrass Photo Credit: Zach Mahone)

A truly delightful experience through and through at WinterWonderGrass Photo Credit: Zach Mahone)

Lindsay Lou  (Photo Credit: Molly McCormick)

Lindsay Lou (Photo Credit: Molly McCormick)

​ A great addition to the weekend was the first day set by the latest rendition of the Bluegrass Generals, a collective that has, in the past, featured some amazing shared-stage action. The weekend in Steamboat was no different and while Larry Keel did join them onstage for a spell, it was Molly TuttleLindsay Lou, and some of the members of Della Mae, (who also played a set of their own on Friday, as well) that really made the Generals shine. 

Lindsay Lou  (Photo Credit: Molly McCormick)

Lindsay Lou (Photo Credit: Molly McCormick)

Della Mae performs at WinterWonderGrass  (Photo Credit: Molly McCormick)

Della Mae performs at WinterWonderGrass (Photo Credit: Molly McCormick)

Della Mae kicked off what was to be a heavily and heavenly-dominated women showcase of performances throughout the weekend. Not only did they grace the stage and make everyone fully aware of how much females are ​breaking more and more into the spotlight in the bluegrass scene, but they also reminded us all of why we love to see music like this played live. After releasing their latest work, Headlight, which brushes on topics that are front and center in many a conversation nowadays, the quintet put the topics and talent front and center on the main stage. During their set, they were joined by the artist-at-large Lindsay Lou, who would be seen almost as a hostess of the weekend when all was said and done. Including one of her own songs in their setlist, Lou shared vocals and love with the women of Della Mae, and audience members welcomed the opportunity to witness women supporting women.

Della Mae performs at WinterWonderGrass  (Photo Credit: Molly McCormick)

Della Mae performs at WinterWonderGrass (Photo Credit: Molly McCormick)

There was music everywhere during Winter WonderGrass (Photo Credit: Dylan Langille)

There was music everywhere during WinterWonderGrass (Photo Credit: Dylan Langille)

​​​​John Stickley Trio, who would also go on to play a set up on the mountain later in the schedule, was amongst the first bands to welcome fans to Steamboat as well and their set was another that got the feet moving to stay warm while temperatures sunk along with the sun. The highlight of the night was Billy Strings taking the stage, kicking off his festival season, and headlining for the first time! WinterWonderGrass founder Scotty Stoughton gave Billy a warm welcome and acknowledged the special evening with much enthusiasm. Knowing his audience and getting right into it, Billy and the boys kicked the set off with “Steamboat Whistle Blues” which the crowd went wild for. 

There was music everywhere during Winter WonderGrass (Photo Credit: Dylan Langille)

There was music everywhere during WinterWonderGrass (Photo Credit: Dylan Langille)

Winter WonderGrass had explosive performances on and off the stage (Photo Credit: Dylan Langill)

WinterWonderGrass had explosive performances on and off the stage (Photo Credit: Dylan Langill)

While Strings and his bandmates gave the crowd exactly what they had come to the festival for, mother nature showed that she still ruled supreme, and as the wind blew a chill into the air, fans huddled together and hunkered down paying the freezing temperatures no mind. Billy Strings has never been short of fantastic and gives his all to each and every chance he gets to step on a stage. Steamboat was absolutely no exception and playing songs from his latest release, HOME, the young phenom showcased talent beyond belief as he strummed his guitar. Fans were ecstatic to hear versions of new music and old, including a twelve-minute version of "Tinfoil and Turmoil" off the album by the same name. There were additional drawn-out version of his newest barn burners like "Highway Hypnosis." We are already looking forward to Strings taking the stage in the future as we are sure to hear more barn burners in the future - Strings and his band have been scorching the stages around the country, and we do not expect that to end anytime soon.

Winter WonderGrass had explosive performances on and off the stage (Photo Credit: Dylan Langill)

WinterWonderGrass had explosive performances on and off the stage (Photo Credit: Dylan Langill)

Some World Class Musicians In These Parts (Photo Credit: Zach Mahone)

Photo Credit: Zach Mahone

Saturday was a bit warmer and most fans that were able to muster the strength and stamina could be found hitting the slopes somewhat early in the day. If fans were able to plan well enough, they even got to check out some mountaintop music brought by the Jon Stickley Trio, who earned their WWG wings by hauling themselves up the mountain, being joined at one point by Andy Thorn of Leftover Salmon. We were thankful not to wear as many layers when we showed early enough to catch acts like Horseshoes and Handgrenades. This is one act that is not to be missed, and the crowd was treated to a stellar set by the band that displayed a care-free attitude that could perhaps have been brought to us by the opportunity to drink a bit, according to lead singer Adam Gruel. Greul was all smiles with his sunglasses on and brought a care-free energy that was enjoyed and shared by all as he led the band through a fun-loving set. There was another appearance by the lead singer of the mountainside showmen, Jon Stickley himself, as he joined in for some of the fun. 

Some World Class Musicians In These Parts (Photo Credit: Zach Mahone)

Photo Credit: Zach Mahone

One of the things that was so evident throughout the weekend with the musicians was a comradery that they all seemed to be a part of. Sharing the stage seemed to be a given, and the friendships that formed or have already been formed between individuals and groups was so enjoyable and authentic throughout the entire three days. Lindsay Lou got on stage with just about everyone that there was, shining the brightest during the WinterWonderWomen and also during her "Islands In the Stream" cover Saturday night with Greensky Bluegrass. Not out of the ordinary Cris Jacobs hopped onstage with longtime tour buddies Greensky as well.  Molly Tuttle was seen onstage quite a few times, and the Grass After Dark series saw many surprise collaborations as well. 

There were nothing but all star lineups at Winter WonderGrass (Photo Credit: Molly McCormick)

There were nothing but all star lineups at WinterWonderGrass (Photo Credit: Molly McCormick)

While there were fireworks that also made an appearance during the Friday night Billy Strings set, Greensky Bluegrass brought a light show of their own, as they're known to do without comparison, for the headlining act Saturday night. Playing an incredible set that included amazing hits pulled from their entire collection while also welcoming friends like Lindsay Lou and Cris Jacobs, as mentioned earlier, the Michigan-based band showed fans why they have been a staple in the WWG family since the beginning. An extended version of "Worried About the Weather" made some fans giggle when not knowing what was in store for them come Sunday and Monday. Closing out their set with "Past My Prime" led everyone out into the snowy night to find even more fun with some of the shows that were out and about as part of the festivals continued efforts to keep the party going. 

There were nothing but all star lineups at Winter WonderGrass (Photo Credit: Molly McCormick)

There were nothing but all star lineups at WinterWonderGrass (Photo Credit: Molly McCormick)

A crowded and foot stomping crowd at Winter WonderGrass (Photo Credit: Dylan Langille)

A crowded and foot stomping crowd at WinterWonderGrass (Photo Credit: Dylan Langille)

While no one wanted the weekend to end, Sunday's music couldn't come soon enough with another highly-anticipated set from Billy Strings along with Margo Price as another treat to look forward to. Snow found its way into the festival as well while The Travelin' McCourys played their set, and it was almost picturesque to see the beauty of the mountain​ complimented by music from such a wholehearted band. Making its way into their setlist, a most magical tune that came right on time with the Grateful Dead's "Not Fade Away" was celebrated by all. While the crowd seemed not one bit bothered, but more delighted by the snowy weather, it was the breakthrough of the sun right before it was almost time to put it to bed, that made the second appearance of Billy Strings on the ​main stage breathtaking and something that will not soon be forgotten. 

A crowded and foot stomping crowd at Winter WonderGrass (Photo Credit: Dylan Langille)

A crowded and foot stomping crowd at WinterWonderGrass (Photo Credit: Dylan Langille)

The tent party that happened during the Pickin on the Dead between every main stage act was what festival dreams are made of.  Everyone got an incredible dose of hippy happiness with covers that warmed them from the inside out. Giving everyone a reason to come together in more ways than one, the stage was shared by just about anyone that you could have wanted to​ play together, and hearing the songs of The Grateful Dead with a bluegrass twist always makes my heart go pitter-patter. A genius addition to the lineup thrown in when they were, the sets from the well known, rotating cast hit the spot. 

Margo Price and Billy Strings floored the festival this year! (Photo Credit: Dylan Langille)

Margo Price and Billy Strings floored the festival this year! (Photo Credit: Dylan Langille)

Margo Price was the closer to an absolutely incredible weekend, and the way she ended ​the festival was second to none for myself and many others as far as I could tell. Having Billy Strings join her onstage, and also covering some of the best women musicians in the business​ with a Janis Joplin and Dolly Parton cover thrown in, showed that she is going to be a constant force in the festival circuit and one that many will recognize as a killer vocalist as well as a genuine person. Connecting with the audience, she was a very humbled performer that won the hearts of attendees who may or may not have had the pleasure of seeing her perform live before. 

Margo Price and Billy Strings floored the festival this year! (Photo Credit: Dylan Langille)

Margo Price and Billy Strings floored the festival this year! (Photo Credit: Dylan Langille)

While events are being cancelled left and right due to precautions for Corona Virus prevention, Episode 2 of WWG is on​! 

We are already looking forward to making the journey out West again for WinterWonderGrass 2021. Of course, you do not have to wait for 2021, check out the remaining TWO additional installments of WinterWonderGrass 2020 - California (March 27-29), and Vermont (April 10-11). There are tickets and lift tickets still available, so what are you waiting for?


Videos

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Social Media Posts

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Social Media 


With almost too many exceptional memories captured on social media we recommend you looking at the following social media accounts & views:

Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery


Enjoy photos of WinterWonderGrass by Dylan Langille and Molly McCormick of Bonfire Entertainment and Zach Mahone.

Day 1: Friday - February 21, 2020

Day 2: Saturday - February 22, 2020

Day 3: Sunday - February 23, 2020

Performance Details

Performance Details

Performance

Details


Don't think the WinterWonderGrass is over!  There are TWO upcoming festivals!


 

Thursday - Sunday: March 27-29, 2020


 
 
 

WinterWonderGrass Squaw (CA)

https://winterwondergrass.com/squaw/

Squaw Valley

1960 Squaw Valley Road 

Olympic Valley, CA 96146

(Google Maps Link)


 

Many Many Options, please see details in ticket button below


 

Friday & Saturday : April 10-11, 2020


 
 
 
 

WinterWonderGrass Stratton (VT)

https://winterwondergrass.com/stratton/

Stratton Mountain Resort

5 Village Lodge Road 

Stratton, VT 05155

(Google Maps Link)


 

$79 - $189. Please see dettails in the ticket button below.


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About the author
Karin McLaughlin

Karin McLaughlin

Karin has been a live music junkie all her life, however is a fairly new fan in the world of jam bands and bluegrass. She grew up on hip hop, classic soul, motown and classic rock but has found a new home in the festival world and that is what, in part, had brought her to DC Music Review. Karin produces and hosts a weekly radio show in the area called Karin's Calendar, where she talks all about 'Where to be in the DMV'. She is very excited to be starting down a semi-new road with us and hopes to use her interview skills and write ups of shows to contribute even more to DC Music Review.