Road Trip Alert: WinterWonderGrass in Steamboat Springs | AspenTimes.com

Road Trip Alert: WinterWonderGrass in Steamboat Springs

Benjamin Welch
The Aspen Times

Until moving to the mountains, my understanding was that the only type of people who listened to bluegrass was the dad at Boy Scout camp picking a banjo and singing “The Beverly Hillbillies” theme song around the campfire. But now, thanks to Mumford and Sons (I think), everyone is obsessed with the genre. Some lumberjack messing around with a mandolin or, worse, a ukulele has become my generation’s version of the guy playing a guitar during the toga party in “Animal House.”

So to expand my cow-dotted horizons and get some use out of the Ikon benefits that came with this year’s Premier Pass, I’ll be traveling to Steamboat Springs for the WinterWonderGrass festival Feb. 21 to 23, and report my findings back to you personally.

Let’s be honest with ourselves. Doesn’t all bluegrass sound … basically the same? Give me a couple of weeks to figure out how to play instruments and sing and I can pretty much replicate it, know what I’m saying? I’m a man of education, so researching this year’s lineup on Spotify unveiled everything from country-western lite to “Deliverance” redneck. The live albums are the best, with lyrics about drinking coffee and feelin’ blue and whatnot, while some guy screams “yeeeeeEEEAAAHHH!” over and over in the front row.

So I’m going to learn and then, by proxy, teach. Here’s what I hope to discover:

Who are the people who have a Grateful Dead-esque obsession with bluegrass?

If you Shazam a concert, will it pull up the name of the song? I’m going to need some help.

How far away is Steamboat, anyway? Can I survive waking up at 6 a.m., and then driving there in a snowstorm?

Do the tingles from the hot springs come from the minerals bubbling in the water, or other people discreetly peeing?

Will I find another bag of drugs on the ground? Will I try to find its rightful owner?

Can I party all night and then make it to my 9 a.m. snowboard tour the next morning? Who do they think I am?

And is Mumford and Sons actually bluegrass?

So now you have something to look forward to: An introverted indie rock/dream pop enthusiast’s expedition into thousands of people dressed in flannel and woolen caps, new terminology like “strings” and a bunch of bands with names that reference fishing.

Plus, there are food trucks and beer tastings. Put a drink in my hand and I can happily watch paint dry — the voices in my head make good enough company.

“There is nothing better than the freedom to explore new landscapes, new communities and new friendships. There’s magic that happens when women, men and kids from around the world gather for the alchemy of music and mountains,” says a statement on the WinterWonderGrass website. For that quote I didn’t even have to call anybody (which is too scary).

The festival is sold out, but hit me up if you’re planning on heading over there and I’ll let you hold me aloft while I crowd surf. Otherwise, pick up The Aspen Times in two weeks for my full, albeit hazy, recollection as well as all-new jokes about washboards and chapped harmonica lips.

bwelch@aspentimes.com


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