WinterWonderGrass Tahoe | 2024 | Review

Article Contributed by Alan Sheckter | Published on Monday, April 22, 2024

Often resembling a real-life musical snow globe in the California’s high Sierra, the eighth annual WinterWonderGrass-Tahoe, April 5 to 7, brought a hardy bunch of musicians – and resilient attendees – to Palisades Tahoe ski resort, in the midst of the Olympic Village that hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics.

WWG festival founder, Scotty Stoughton

“I love watching the snow fall, and the reaction from the fans and the bands,” said festival founder Scotty Stoughton soon after the festival’s conclusion. “Taking in Mother Nature’s participation is always a highlight. It seems to snow a little each and every year, which is what we love. WWG was built for the hearty, mountain-loving folks who cannot be easily deterred. It makes for a respectful, link-minded audience.”

One of many of places to get warmed up, in the VIP area at WWG-Tahoe

While contemporary bluegrass of various tempos and subsets, like jamgrass, dominated the weekend, inclusions from the funk/soul, rock, and Grateful Dead worlds kept the proceedings interestingly multi-dimensional. Headliners included The Devil Makes Three, The Infamous Stringdusters, and Paul Cauthen, with other moments burned into our collective memories coming from Sierra Ferrell, Andy Frasco & the U.N., Sierra Hull, and the Kitchen Dwellers, as well as all-star ensemble sets from the WinterWonderWomen and Pickin’ on the Dead. Late-night sets and additional, free early afternoon shows dotted the village, as well as at the High Camp ski area, at an 8,200 feet elevation, made accessible by an aerial tram.  

Caltucky performs for skiers and snowboarders at the top of the Gold Coast ski trail on Sunday

On Friday, falling snow defined most of the day for the gnarly revelers who were layered in their mid-winter outerwear. It was so cold that, rather than get wet as would’ve been the case during a cold rain, the temperatures never got out of the mid-20s, so the fluffy snowflakes bounced off rather than seeped in. Performance stages were all furnished with heaters and upwards of 100 tall patio heaters dotted the outer areas of the festival grounds.

Almost a white-out on Friday during Mighty Poplar’s set

Early April, still wintertime at Lake Tahoe

Lindsay Lou, who performed with her own band, with the WinterWonderWomen ensemble, and guested elsewhere including with Andy Frasco, summed up her 2024 WWG-Tahoe experience on social media: “The crew, the crowd, the music, the heart swells, the hard work, the celebration, the camaraderie, the shenanigans, the winter fashion, the comfy cozies, the rage party, the collaborations, and the reunions. Our lives are better for it. Thanks.”

Lindsay Lou guests with Andy Frasco

The format of the festival, which drew a few thousand people each day – Saturday in particular seemed brimming at capacity – was similar to previous years. The big productions on the main stage that hosted four acts each day were supplemented by 30- to 45-minute tweener sets in three large, kind-of-heated tents (body heat made them warmer) that could each hold 300-400 people. Each tent band played two sets, and some played three times in a day. The first downbeat at the small-stage tents began precisely as the final notes dissipated from each main-stage set. The fest also featured late-night “Grass After Dark” performances, free early afternoon “Pickin’ in the Plaza” shows in the Village Plaza, and midday “Mountain Jams,” atop the Gold Coast aerial tram.

Palisades Tahoe aerial tram

If one showed up at a small stage a mere five minutes before a performance, they could be comfortably positioned at the rail in front of the band. Typically, as soon as 10 minutes after a tent performance started, especially during the snowy periods on Friday and Sunday where people weren’t too interested in the outdoor food-court tables, the tents were full with red-cheeked revelers. Thus, if one could for a moment, tear their attention away from say, the Saturday Andy Frasco & the U.N. performance, a momentary look at the schedule revealed that sets were soon to get underway by the Sam Grisman Project (Soapbox tent), Might Poplar (Pickin’ Perch tent), and WinterWonderWomen (Jamboree tent), and one could make their way over in those directions.

Side-stage tent on Friday

Away from the main stage, gourmet food vendors dotted the perimeter with high-quality meal choices. A kids activities area, and other enhancements augmented the scene and contributed to WWG-Tahoe’s overall ambiance. And all weekend, neighboring Olympic Village, an upscale wintertime destination community, was thriving with great spring-condition skiing/snowboarding at Palisades Tahoe/Alpine Meadows, hotels, shops, bars, restaurants, and fun.

Olympic Village at Palisades Tahoe

Crafting in the Kid Zone on Friday

An overall mixed cocktail of beer, bluegrass, and mountains magically blended together to establish a unique, pleasing balance. Sure, every festival serves beer. But the added bonus at WWG is the tradition that, between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. daily, attendees were privy to free California-based craft-beer tastings in the three large tents. One was able to have as many three-ounce cupfuls as desired, and lines for each brew and the small sample cups were reasonable short.  

Sacrament Brewing of Sacramento hands out free samples on Friday
Tincup whiskey samples in the VIP tent

The Infamous Stringdusters’ set to close out the main stage on Sunday night was a favorite, and included many originals as well as a variety of covers such as the Grateful Dead’s “Jack Straw,” The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,” and “Hit Parade of Love,” first recorded by bluegrass pioneer Jimmy Martin and the Sunny Mountain Boys in the mid ‘50s. Their set was a favorite for Tawna Parker, whose been a fan since 2012 and came down from western Oregon to attend all three days of WWG-Tahoe. “The Dusters bring an amazing energy and positivity to the bluegrass scene,” she said. “Their lyrics are so meaningful to me, and I know a lot of other people feel the same. I like how they keep a traditional feel while also bringing some serious jams. Their music just makes people happy.” Ms. Parker’s favorite of the evening was the footstompin’ “Rise Sun.” “It is such an amazing song that fills you with hope,” she said. “The band always plays it so well. And Travis vocals are super strong on this one! “Light and Love” and “Colorado” are also favorites with their great lyrics and jams that make you dance. Ending with “Fork on the Road” always gets the crowd going wild.”

Chris Pandolfi (right, banjo), and Andy Hall (dobro) of the Infamous Stringdusters

Infamous Stringdusters close out the main stage performances on Sunday

Outputting a snazzy, up-tempo mix of bluegrass, blues, folk and ragtime, Saturday headliner Devil Makes Three’s passionate effort kept the chilly crowd moving. The trio’s steady lineup of Cooper McBean (guitar, banjo, vocals), Pete Bernhard (guitar), and Lucia Turino (upright bass), have remained static for more than 20 years, giving them an undeniable knack for participating in unspoken musical communication while onstage.

Pete Bernhard, The Devil Makes Three, Saturday’s headliner

Cooper McBean, The Devil Makes Three

Lucia Turino | The Devil Makes Three

Alt-country Paul “Big Velvet” Cauthen, big in stature with a velvety baritone voice, armed with new material including “Hot Damn” and “25 Tequilas,” closed out the main-stage festivities on Friday night.

Dust Bowl Brewing Co., of Elk Grove, Calif., passing out beer samples

Along the rail at the main stage, Friday

Sierra Ferrell, a rapidly rising rootsy, country/folkabilly/traditional Americana singing/songwriting star, generated quite a bit of anticipatory buzz within the audience before her Saturday main-stage set. The delightfully costumed Ferrell, on acoustic guitar and vocals, flanked by a quartet of male players (electric guitar/fiddle, stand-up bass, mandolin, and drums), delivered a striking set of material that felt very present-day while evocative of such legendary voices as Patsy Cline, Ma Rainey, and Bessie Smith. From the West Virginia native’s new project, Ferrell led “Trail of Flowers,” “Lighthouse,” “Dollar Bill Bar,” and “America Dreaming,” as well as “Don’t Let Me Down” by The Beatles, “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down,” the folk classic recorded 100 years ago by Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers, and closed with “In Dreams.”

Sierra Ferrell | WinterWonderGrass Tahoe

Sierra Ferrell and her band, main stage, Saturday

Sierra Ferrell | WinterWonderGrass Tahoe

Andy Frasco & the U.N.’s unabashed, full-tilt boogie of a set was anything but bluegrass, but the party animal ambience offered by both him and his merry, rocking band of co-conspirators (Shawn Eckels, guitars; Floyd Kellogg, bass; Ernie Chang, saxophone; and Andee Avila, drums), was the epitome of “entertainment.” The friendly fracas/performance was supplemented by mature humor and some biting social commentary made simple, such as “Pay all your bills; stay off the pills; try not to die.”

Andy Frasco, main stage of Saturday
Floyd Kellogg with Andy Frasco & the U.N.

During the performance, the Los Angeles-born Frasco danced on his piano, invited guests onstage including Torrin Daniels of the Kitchen Dwellers and Lindsay Lou, and realizing he was way off the bluegrass genre, announced at one point, “Because this is a bluegrass festival we’re gonna do-si-do this bitch.” The self-identified Jewish fellow then proceeded to go out into the crowd and lead a large-scale square dance followed by a jubilant “Hava Nagila.” And somewhere in there they covered Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” He closed the party with “Dancin’ Around My Grave,” with its message of living life to the fullest, with no regrets: “Hey! Everybody on the floor / Two-step and say no more / Oh! Everybody in the back / Jump up and clap your hands /Celebrate what we had / Celebrate what we had.”

Andy Frasco & the U.N. | WinterWonderGrass Tahoe

Shawn Eckels with Andy Frasco & the U.N.

Touring in support of their brand-new record, “Seven Devils,” the Montana-based Kitchen Dwellers, offering a psychedelic bluegrass sub-genre of “Galaxy Grass,” were the penultimate main-stage band on Sunday. The band (Shawn Swain, mandolin; Torrin Daniels, banjo and vocals; Joe Funk, upright bass; and Max Davies, acoustic guitar) dished out a powerful good-vibe set. Opening with “Unwind,” which segued into “Muir Maid” and back into “Unwind,” the band performed most of the tunes from the new record, as well as some tasty covers with guest fiddler Jake Simpson from the Lil Smokies in tow: “Down in the Lonesome Draw” (Cahalen Morrison and Eli West) and “June Apple” (traditional).

Kitchen Dwellers, main stage on Sunday

Kitchen Dwellers from afar, Sunday

Progressive bluegrass/Americana outfit Lil Smokies, also from Montana, appeared Friday on the main stage prior to Paul Cathen with its lineup of Andy Dunnigan (dobro), Matt Rieger (guitar), Jake Simpson (fiddle), Jean-Luc Davis (stand-up bass), and Sam Zickefoose (banjo). During the set, the band’s three-part harmonies, Dunnigan’s dobro, and Simpson’s fiddle work had the crowd dancing and nodding their approval to the band’s precision-playing and beguiling sound.

Andy Dunnigan, Lil Smokies, main stage, Friday
Matt "Rev" Rieger, Lil Smokies | WinterWonderGrass Tahoe

The Lil Smokies also pulled off a nice trick early Friday, performing in disguises – and on instruments they usually do not play – as “Cast Iron” in the Soapbox tent. No wonder a Google search of “Cast Iron band” turned up empty.

“Cast Iron,” actually Lil Smokies’ Sam Zickefoose (from left), Andy Dunnigan, Matt Rieger, Jake Simpson, and Jean-Luc Davis

Sierra Hull’s main-stage set late Sunday afternoon had the fabulous mandolinist visibly exuberant as she performed, and the audience seemed to collectively smile right back at her. A Berklee College of Music graduate, the former teen singing/songwriting prodigy (she was signed to Rounder Records at 13), continues to gain momentum as a star on the contemporary bluegrass scene. Her cohesive band included husband Justin Moses on acoustic guitar. Hull and company’s sweet set included “Poison,” “What Do You Say,” and a cover of the Bela Fleck & the Flecktone’s instrumental, “Stomping Grounds.” They closed with a lovely rendition of the Grateful Dead’s “Black Muddy River.”

Sierra Hull, main stage on Sunday | WinterWonderGrass Tahoe

Sierra Hull and Justin Moses | WinterWonderGrass Tahoe

Aurally displaying its considerable traditional bluegrass pedigree, Mighty Poplar is a supergroup of sorts, featuring Chris Eldridge (guitar) and Noam Pikelny (banjo) of the Punch Brothers, Greg Garrison on bass (Leftover Salmon, Punch Brothers), Andrew Marlin on mandolin (Watchhouse, formerly Mandolin Orange), and John Mailander on fiddle (Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers, Billy Strings, solo material). Mighty Poplar flexed its considerable muscle during a main stage performance on Friday and Pickin’ Perch tent set on Saturday, which included some selections from their 2023 self-titled album. Mailander has appeared with the band recently as Alex Hargreaves devotes more time and energy to his work with Billy Strings.

Mighty Poplar performs in a steady snowfall on Friday

Andrew Marlin (from left), Greg Garrison, and Chris Eldridge of Mighty Poplar

John Mailander with Mighty Poplar, Friday | WWG Tahoe

Singer-songwriter Lindsay Lou, who blends bluegrass, Americana, folk, and pop, led her band in an energetic main-stage set on Saturday afternoon. Her band featured Mimi Naja from Fruition along with Heather Gillis on bass and Michelle Pietrafitta on drums. Lou has been involved in several collaborations of late, such as with Billy Strings and Jerry Douglas, who appear on her 2023 release, “Queen of Time,” as well as the Brothers Comatose, and as stated earlier, she joined Andy Frasco during his WWG set. In addition, Lou, it was announced, will sit-in for Railroad Earth frontman Todd Sheaffer at some soon-to-come gigs in May, as “Railroad Revue,” as Sheaffer “attends to a health issue,” the band stated recently.  

Lindsay Lou, main stage, Saturday

Lindsay Lou (left), with Mimi Naja

SPOTLIGHT ON WINTERWONDERWOMEN: What has been a WWG tradition, carried on in earnest at WWG-Tahoe this year. The WinterWonderWomen collective, curated by Megan Letts (of Mama Magnolia), had a deserved high-profile presence with a couple of evening tweener sets on Saturday and a main-stage engagement on Sunday afternoon. All told, here are the musicians WinterWonderWomen featured in Sunday: Letts (keyboards), Lindsay Lou (guitar, vocals), Mimi Naja (from Fruition, mandolin), Sierra Hull (mandolin, vocals), Katia Racine (from Pixie & the Partygrass Boys, vocals), Amanda B. Grapes (Pixie & the Partygrass Boys, fiddle, vocals), Emma Rose (from Big Richard Band, bass, vocals), Heather Gillis (electric bass, vocals), Michelle Pietrafitta (from Banshee Tree, drums), and oh yes, one male – Jay Cobb Anderson from Fruition, on guitar and vocals. It is marvelous to have these women supergroup performances in what are often very male-dominated festival lineups, though WWG does better than most at evening the male/female tilt.

Megan Letts, orchestrator of WinterWonderWomen

WinterWonderWomen, main stage on Sunday

Delivering a wonderful mix of favorites, the Sunday, main-stage set consisted of the following, that unified the crowd in its amazing mix of genres and eras: “Bright Morning Stars” (traditional Appalachian folk tune), “Tender” (Blur), “Higher and Higher” (Jackie Wilson), “Something’s Got A Hold On Me” (Etta James), “Proud Mary” (Creedence Clearwater Revival, in the style of Tina Turner’s rendition), “The River Jordan” (May Earlewine), “She Left Me Standing on the Mountain” (Jim & Jesse), “Lay Down – Candles in the Rain” (Melanie), “Santa Fe” (Fruition), “7” (Prince), “Signed Sealed Delivered I’m Yours” (Stevie Wonder), “My Body My Choice” (Margaret Glaspy), “Southland” (Lindsay Lou), and “The Weight” (The Band, in the style of Aretha Franklin’s version).

Lindsay Lou with the WinterWonderWomen

Heather Gillis, WinterWonderWomen

“My goal is to always make sure everyone feels celebrated in this space and can shine in a way that makes them feel confident and incredible, because these women ARE truly incredible,” Letts said shortly after the fest. “My goal is to pick songs that feel exactly right-sized for the space and the time. Some are tunes people know and love, but if they don’t know them, I hope they’ll be humming them on the way out! But really, it’s about the women on stage being able to celebrate being us, the badasses that we are!”

Mimi Naja, sporting a University of South Carolina T-shirt, moments after their Gamecocks won the NCAA Women’s College Basketball Tournament

Emma Rose, WinterWonderWomen

As for what goes into creating a set list for WWWomen, “As far as how we prep, we do the set at every WinterWonderGrass, so in Tahoe, you’re seeing a similar set to what we did in Steamboat (although the players are slightly different, so some of the songs are new)," Letts said. I send out a ridiculously detailed spreadsheet and playlist, and then we try to find at least one day to rehearse in our Airbnb before the sets, just to shake off the dust, figure out parts, and settle in. I urge your readers to go find all of us individually online and listen to our solo music, as we all have individual projects. It’s what makes us such a sweet band!”

Megan Letts, WinterWonderWomen

Michelle Pietrafitta, WinterWonderWomen

Pickin’ On The Dead, a talented, full-of-fun-and-energy Colorado-based Grateful Dead tribute band that has become a WWG tradition, opened the main-stage proceedings on Friday, with a lineup of long-time collaborators Michael Kirkpatrick (mandolin, vocals), Tyler Grant (guitar, vocals), Jake Wolf (drums), Ace Engfer (lead guitar), and Alex Benjamin (keyboards). Set selections included “Truckin’,” “New Speedway Boogie,” “Here Come Sunshine,” “Althea,” “Estimated Prophet,” and “China Cat Sunflower” / “I Know You Rider.” They also played three rip-snortin’ sets in the Soapbox tent on Sunday. As Grateful Dead music has undeniably turned into its own popular genre, post Jerry Garcia’s passing in 1995, with a multitude of songs well-cherished into the public’s consciousness, sets featuring Pickin’ With the Dead were among the most popular tweener tent-set performances.   

Michael Kirkpatrick (right) and Jake Wolf, Pickin’ on the Dead, on the main stage Friday

Ace Engfer (left), and Michael Kirkpatrick, Pickin’ on the Dead, Soapbox tent on Sunday

Tyler Grant, Pickin’ on the Dead, Soapbox tent on Sunday

Bass player/vocalist Sam Grisman, son of International Bluegrass Hall of Famer David Grisman, has now generated substantial buzz on his own. The Sam Grisman Project (with Dominick Leslie, Roy Williams, and Chris J. English) performed three electric sets in the Soapbox tent on Saturday to an appreciative crowd. Mariah Hawley, John Mailander, and Lindsay Lou also joined in for a few songs. The band’s selections included “Dawg Aftar Dark” (David Grisman/Tony Rice), “Shady Grove” (traditional, recorded by Jerry Garcia/David Grisman),  and “The Thrill is Gone” (Roy Hawkins/Rick Darnell, recorded by Jerry Garcia/David Grisman), as well as Grateful Dead selections such as “West L.A. Fadeaway,” “Deal,” and “Me & My Uncle,” as well as several other covers (standards and contemporary), for instance Elizabeth Cotton’s “Freight Train,” Allen Toussaint’s “Yes We Can Can,” Bob Dylan’s “Man Gave Names to All the Animals,” “Long Black Veil” (Left Frizzell), and Jimmy Cliff’s “The Harder They Come.”

Dominic Leslie (left) and Sam Grisman, Saturday

Sam Grisman | WinterWonderGrass Tahoe

Pixie & the Partygrass Boys, featuring Katia “Pixie” Racine at the helm, brought a whole lot of charisma, onstage jubilation and sparkle, and newgrass mixed with a pleasingly quirky blend folk, jazz, pop, punk, and theater, during their three Pickin’ Perch tent performances on Sunday. The Utah-based band, which included Amanda B. Grapes, Zach Downes, Ben Weiss, and Andrew Nelson, posted on social media the day after WWG-Tahoe, “We couldn’t have asked for a better day. Four rowdy sets with raging crowds, bluebird conditions with light snow, so many incredible bands. and such an amazing community of ski bums and music lovers!!! We’re going home with tired legs and happy hearts, inspired and ready for festival season.”

Pixie & the Partygrass Boys, Pickin’ Perch tent on Sunday

Katia Racine, Pixie & the Partygrass Boys, Pickin’ Perch tent on Sunday

Led by vibrant front man/vocalist Zach Alder and flanked by dual saxophonists, high-energy funk ‘n’ soul outfit Diggin’ Dirt, based out of Humboldt County, Calif., warmed up the Soapbox tent with three sets on Friday. Their performances included “Cold Sweat,” “Krunk Funk,” “Tell Me,” “Break,” “Superstar,” “All Night,” “Satisfaction,” and “Nobody’s Fault” (Led Zeppelin).

Zach Alder (right) with Diggin’ Dirt, Soapbox Tent, Friday

Based in Grass Valley, Calif., Two Runner, the harmonious Paige Anderson (guitar, banjo, and chief songwriter) and Emilie Rose (fiddle) have been gaining some widespread attention of late thanks to the plethora festivals and solo gigs at which they’ve performed all over the country –and the quality of their music. Two Runner played three tweener sets in the Jamboree tent on Sunday, appearing with stand-up bass accompanist Sean Newman. Before they collaborated to form Two Runner, the fresh-sounding bluegrass/old-timey folk duo had both been at it since they were 9 – Anderson first playing and touring with her family’s Anderson Family Bluegrass, and Rose learning the fiddle and then leading northern California Celtic band, The String Sisters, for several years.

Two Runner, featuring Emilie Rose (left) and Paige Anderson (right) on Sunday

Fronted by Sam Walker on guitar and lead vocals, Clay Street Unit, a twangy, alt-country/folk/bluegrass outfit from Denver, played a couple of sets in the Jamboree tent on Friday evening. Mimi Naja and Jay Cobb Anderson from Fruition, and Jake Simpson from Lil Smokies, sat in with the upbeat band for a spell.

Clay Street Unit, Friday evening

Broken Compass Bluegrass, another outfit of young phenoms based in Grass Valley, Calif., and also turning heads all over the place (see Two Runner, above), performed two tweener tent sets on Friday and on Saturday. During one of their sets on Saturday afternoon in the Soapbox tent, the musically well-schooled band (Kyle Ledson, mandolin/guitar; Mei Lin Heiendt, fiddle; Django Ruckrich, guitar/mandolin; Sam Jacobs, stand-up bass; and guest Nikolai Margulis on banjo) dished up some of their original material, along with Molly Tuttle’s “Crooked Tree,” Richard Thompson’s “1952 Vincent Black Lightning,” Jerry Garcia’s “Loser,” and super-quick rendering of Gregg Allman’s “Midnight Rider.”

Broken Compass Bluegrass, Soapbox tent, Saturday

Mei Lin Heiendt  (left) and Kyle Ledson, Broken Compass Bluegrass, Jamboree tent, Friday

Yet another bourgeoning bluegrass band from the northern California foothills, Caltucky, entertained those already on their bandwagon and attracted a bunch of new fans during their WWG-Tahoe performances. The bluegrass quartet (Kyle Kunert, Gabe Bingham, Nick Dauphinais, and Daniel Roholt) on Friday performed in the Pickin’ Perch tent three times (‘twas supposed to be two, but another band was delayed due to snow-chain controls on I-80 on the way up the mountain). The bluegrass minstrels also played a special midday set for the skiers on Sunday at 8,000-plus feet elevation atop the Gold Coast Futinel tram (with Marty Varner on bass). While there, they performed some original as well as the apropos standard, “Sittin’ on Top of the World,” along with “Money For Nothing” (Dire Straits).   

Caltucky “Sittin’ on Top of the World,” at 8,200 feet midday on Sunday

Caltucky playing for skiers/snowboarders on Sunday at the top of Palisades Tahoe’s Gold Coast futinel (tram)

Boot Juice, a high-energy Nor-Cal ensemble with an amazingly frenetic amount of onstage energy, performed a tweener set on Sunday and twice on Saturday – a noonish mountaintop set at the summit of the Gold Coast, as well as an impromptu set in the VIP tent while those privileged ticketholders were being served dinner. The rollicking Americana-with-a-touch-of-bluegrass outfit really caused a fervor in the VIP tent with a frenzied set that had Caleb Sanders (alto and tenor sax), Brett Worley (electric bass), and guest saxophonist Ernie Chang, who just completed a main-stage set with Andy Frasco, up and dancing (and playing) on the long wooden tables to the delight of those in the vicinity. The always-bringing-the-party band also included Jess Stoll (vocals, mandolin, artist, visionary), Connor Herdt (acoustic guitar, vocals), Evan Daily (electric guitar, vocals), Alex Bejamin (percussion), and Cody Naab (drums).  

Boot Juice’s Brett Worley (left) and Caleb Sanders up on the tables in the VIP tent early Saturday evening

Jess Stoll (left) and Caleb Sanders of Boot Juice during an impromptu VIP-tent set on Saturday

Boot Juice’s Brett Worley (left), and Jess Stoll on Sunday

ShadowGrass, which performed straight-ahead quick-paced bluegrass in the Jamboree tent on Friday and Saturday, featured Kyser George, whose incredible acoustic guitar runs are reminiscent of Trey Hensley, along with Madison Morris (fiddle), Luke Morris (mandolin), Clay Russell (banjo), and David George (bass). Their set on Friday included some originals as well as “Call Me the Breeze” (J.J. Cale) “Mr. Charlie” (Grateful Dead) and “On My Way Back to the Old Home” (Bill Monroe, 1952).

ShadowGrass | WinterWonderGrass Tahoe

Led by Doug Neal (guitar/vocals) and Lisa Bond (fiddle, vocals), and performing some originals and some covers, popular local music collective Red Dirt Ruckus entertained the crowd in Olympic Village with a free set of bluegrass, funk, and other ingredients (dubbed on their website as “foothill rudegrass”).   

Red Dirt Ruckus plays a free set in the Olympic Village at Palisades Tahoe

Red Dirt Ruckus performs in the Olympic Village at Palisades Tahoe

Late-night “Grass After Dark” shows in the adjacent Olympic Village included a) the Sam Grisman Project and Pickin’ on the Dead, and b) ShadowGrass and Clay Street Unit on Friday, a) The Infamous Stringdusters and Broken Compass Bluegrass, as well as b) Kitchen Dwellers on Saturday, and Andy Frasco & the U.N. plus Pixie & the Partygrass Boys on Sunday.  

A foursome of fun-seekers, Friday at WWG-Tahoe

Palisades Tahoe, formerly Squaw Valley, home of the 1960 Winter Olympics