A weekend of walkin in the finest jamgrass around was made possible by the debut appearance in Vermont over December 14-16 at Stratton Mountain. WinterWonderGrass, now in its 7th year, has held events in Colorado and California since 2012, with founder Scott Stoughton and his team creating a musical village with a welcoming vibe at all turns.
Stratton was as idyllic a setting out east as WinterWonderGrass could have asked for. Located in south-central Vermont, the mountain is tucked away and has sprawling condos and chalets, a village that practically transports you to the Alps and world class skiing. This weekend added in 8 hours of bluegrass daily, with artists from across the country making the inaugural WinterWonderGrass at Stratton a rousing success.
Scott spoke to Jambase earlier this month about the inception of the WinterWonderGrass: “The original idea for WinterWonderGrass came together because I saw a lot of different music festivals happening,” Stoughton explained. “I saw the beer culture expanding. I was also living in a mountain town at the time, and I saw corporatization of mountain communities, influx of people, everything was branded, and it wasn’t feeling right. It wasn’t authentic.”
The result of Scott’s strive for authenticity is a music village that could be found at any ski mountain – after a run down the slopes, take off your skis and head over to the sound of banjos, mandolins and dobros and take a break with a cold one (or some hot coffee, cocoa or yerba mate). Walking into the venue each day, you feel like a member of a larger family, one that is smiling, laughing and dancing, and most of all, welcoming and friendly to all.
Friday kicked off with multiple sets from Pappy & Friends, Beg, Steal or Borrow, Fruition, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Pickin’ on the Dead and Vermont’s own Saints & Liars. With the three tent stages all close to each other, catching all three was as simple as strolling 50 feet away for a taste of something new. Headliners Jeff Austin Band and The Infamous Stringdusters had the crowd looking forward to the next two days, with powerhouse sets from both. Jeff Austin led a Yonder-style band with a set of speedy jammed out bluegrass originals and covers, capping the set with crowd favorite “Sideshow Blues,” while Stringdusters took spins on Phish’s “Possum” and “Bathtub Gin,” and invited up artist-at-large Bridget Law for Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.” Late night sets featured more from Saints & Liars and Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, as well as John Stickley Trio and Beg, Borrow or Steal.