The Railsplitters headline Wildfest and bring a former ski bum back to Aspen
If You Go …
What: Wildfest, presented by Wilderness Workshop
Where: Owl Farm, Woody Creek
When: Saturday, July 1, 5-10 p.m.
How much: $45
More info: The music lineup includes World’s Finest, The Railsplitters and Pearl & Wood. Sierra Club director Michael Brune will also be a guest speaker.
Co-headlining Wildfest is something of a homecoming for Lauren Stovall.
The lead singer for the progressive bluegrass band The Railsplitters – which will play Wilderness Workshop’s annual benefit concert on Saturday – lived here from 2005 to 2008. It was a prototypical ski bum’s stint “living the dream” in Fat City. For work, she slung gear at the Ute Mountaineer and slices at New York Pizza, she did a winter-long tour on the wait staff at Bonnie’s on Aspen Mountain and boot-packed Highland Bowl for her ski pass.
“I did the whole Aspen thing,” she said. “It was super fun.”
A Mississippi native, she moved her to learn to snowboard, fell in love with the outdoors and eventually settled in Boulder, where she formed The Railsplitters.
The band uses a traditional bluegrass set-up of guitar, mandolin, upright bass, banjo and fiddle. But, like a legion of Colorado bluegrass bands, they’re unbound by the traditions of the form.
The band’s five members come from diverse musical backgrounds and tastes, which infuses Railsplitters’ songs with eclectic bits of pop and soul and rock.
“It’s been fun for us to let all of our different influences help create the music,” said Stovall. “At first we weren’t really trying to push boundaries. It was just happening. But the more it happened, the more we began to write with that in mind.”
The band earned a Front Range following with its exuberant live shows and won the Best New Band prize at Rockygrass in Lyons in 2013, the same year the Railsplitters released their self-titled debut album. They followed that up with 2015’s “The Faster It Goes.” The band is touring the West all this summer and releasing the crowd-funded album “Jump In” later this year.
The new record, Stovall said, pushes the boundaries of bluegrass yet further, aiming for a wider audience than the bluegrass faithful of Colorado.
“There are some songs on there that go so far off the deep end that we don’t know what to call it,” she said. “We’ve had a good time putting in these even more pop-driven melodies and weird harmonies. We do call ourselves a bluegrass band we hope that doesn’t insult people. But we do our own thing.”
The Wildfest music lineup also includes Portland-based World’s Finest and Carbondale’s Pearl & Wood. They’re the centerpiece of an eclectic Wildfest evening at Owl Farm – the “fortified compound” of the late Hunter S. Thompson. The benefit will also include local artist Eliza Rogan live-painting an inspirational mural and kids’ activities. Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, will discuss conservation in the Trump era, and a Take Action Tent will host a “social media swarm” where participants can send messages to congress members about public lands.
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