WinterWonderGrass returned to Steamboat Springs, CO, late last month with headliners The Wood Brothers closing down the sold-out festival Sunday night. The three-day festival took place at the base of Steamboat Resort where the ski runs created a perfect backdrop behind the stage. Things went off without a hitch after a two-year-long COVID-19 hiatus.
Shows officially started Friday afternoon with The WinterWonderGrass All-Stars taking the main stage. Members of The Travelin’ McCourys, Trampled by Turtles, and other WWG bands played bright and cheery tunes during the long-awaited return to the stage.
The festival moved quickly, alternating between artists on the main stage to three bands at a time in the side stage tents. After The WWG All-Stars, the three side stages included shows from The Drunken Hearts, The Sweet Lilies, and the Jay Roemer Band. All three side stage tents were rocking at the same time which made it difficult to catch every show over the course of the weekend, but most bands played more than once allowing fans to see everyone.
Back on the main stage, Sierra Hull made her WinterWonderGrass debut busting out singles from her latest album 25 Trips. After Hull, Sticks N’ Thorns, Tejon Street Corner Thieves, and The WinterWonderWomen—featuring Molly Tuttle, Lindsay Lou, and Sierra Hull, among others—jammed out to the much more intimate-but-packed crowds of the side stages.
The last two main stage acts for Friday night were The Travelin’ McCourys followed by Lukas Nelson & Promise of The Real.
The Travelin’ McCourys opened with their popular cover of Johnny Cash and Randy Scrugg’s “Passin’ Thru” before playing a lively 90-minute set as the sun set behind the mountains. The Travelin’ McCourys did nothing short of preparing the festival for an electric night scene.
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real brought a more rock n’ roll feel to their headlining debut show at WinterWonderGrass. Opening with “Start to Go”, leading into “Perennial Bloom”, continuing with “Fool Me Once”, and eventually playing their hit song “Find Yourself”, they kept the crowd moving and cheering. They followed the hit with “Four Letter Word” before wrapping up the first night of WinterWonderGrass.
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real – “Find Yourself” – 2/25/22
[Video: rober frontneau]
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real – “Forget About Georgia” – 2/25/22
[Video: rober frontneau]
Saturday, day two, opened with shows on the side stages by Buffalo Commons, Morsel, and members from WinterWonderGrass’s sister production RiverGrass. They got things going off on the right foot for a Saturday afternoon before The Dustbowl Revival brought a brass-packed act to the WinterWonderGrass main stage.
This wouldn’t be the last show for Dustbowl Revival at WinterWonderGrass, but after the Los Angeles sextet finished on the main stage, Molly Tuttle and her band came on to bring back the classic bluegrass sound to the mountain base.
After Tuttle’s sunset show, the side stages housed Kitchen Dwellers, Chris Jacobs, and The WonderWomen. Kitchen Dwellers have a stacked residency with WinterWonderGrass this year, playing three sets in Steamboat and additional sets at WinterWonderGrass Tahoe.
The night started with a soulful show from The War and Treaty. Not only this show but the entire festival revolved around the theme of “hope on the horizon”, and The War and Treaty encapsulated it perfectly with their song “Five More Minutes”. In an accompanying story, lead singer Michael Trotter revealed his struggles with suicidal thoughts. The mood wasn’t dampened as the people of WinterWonderGrass hugged and danced to the band’s upbeat tempo and message of perseverance.
Saturday night’s headliner was Trampled by Turtles, a WinterWonderGrass veteran. They kept things hot in the freezing temperatures by opening with a crowd-pleasing “Victory”. “Banjo Dave” Carroll picked it up even more with “Help You” followed by “On My Own” to kick off their fast-paced show.
The night didn’t end when Trampled by Turtles did, however. There was one more set of RiverGrass on the side stage and plenty of Grass After Dark shows around Steamboat to keep the dancing going early into the next morning. Yonder Mountain String Band played an intimate show at the top of the gondola at The Thunderhead Lodge, while The Ghost of Paul Revere played at Shmiggity’s, and Big Something played at The Grand Hotel ballroom.
Things got started early Sunday morning with Big Richard playing at the top of the mountain before The WinterWonderGrass festivities officially kicked off down below. As they say, “Never miss a Sunday show,” and a Sunday at WinterWonderGrass is most certainly not to be missed.
Sunday featured a loaded schedule of headliners starting with Lindsay Lou opening the day in her electric pink jumpsuit which matched perfectly with her funky sound. Lou was followed on the side stages by Pickin’ on the Dead—who played four sets that day—Morsel, and Big Richard. Each band had its own distinct sound in their designated tent, and they played their hearts out until it was time for the next headliner on the main stage.
Pickin’ on the Dead – “Samson and Delilah” – 2/27/22
[Video: rober frontneau]
Kitchen Dwellers played their third and final set of the weekend on the main stage bringing their funky “galaxy grass” sounds to the masses. They opened with “Shadows” and played tunes off their upcoming album, including the title track, “Wise River”.
The next shows on the side stages included Ghost of Paul Revere and the return of Dustbowl Revival. Both played passionate, quick 40-minute sets to keep the crowd hyped and ready for the next-to-last main stage act.
Yonder Mountain String Band took the main stage for a much-anticipated return to WinterWonderGrass. Lead violinist Allie Kral wore a bright purple trench coach and the lights matched her look perfectly as the night rolled in. Yonder opened with a cover of Tom Petty’s “I Need to Know” starting off on a high note and keeping it there with “Left Me in a Hole”. The band jammed through a mix of its own songs and covers during the entire 90-minute set including a cover of Grateful Dead’s “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo”.
After YMSB’s energetic show, the side stages of WinterWonderGrass came back to life with the sounds of Pickin’ on the Dead, Ghost of Paul Revere, and Dustbowl Revival before the final main stage show.
The Wood Brothers closed down the weekend after a long hiatus from the WinterWonderGrass stage. Opening with the groovy tune “Alabaster” and leading into “Little Bit Sweet”, the crowd could not have asked for a better finale. Brothers Chris and Oliver Wood alongside multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix took the crowd through a roller coaster of a show, playing fast-paced tunes then slowing it down into songs like “The Muse”. They closed out the weekend with “Postcards from Hell” and were followed by a firework show conducted by the town of Steamboat Springs.
The fireworks signaled the conclusion of the festival, and the crowd whooped and hollered in celebration of the incredible weekend put on by The WinterWonderGrass team and the town of Steamboat Springs.
Now, on to WinterWonderGrass Tahoe in exactly one month.
WinterWonderGrass 2022 Highlights
[Video The Traveling Tacos]
Scroll down to check out a gallery of photos from WinterWonderGrass 2022 in Steamboat Springs, courtesy of photographers Molly McCormick, Tobin Voggesser, and the festival’s in-house team.