Writing, like music, is at its best when it transcends the author and blossoms within the soul of the reader, or listener. This is when one might say that their craft has reached a new height and come to, well, fruition. At this moment, both facilitator and observer understand why they gravitate towards art. I cannot come remotely close to describing the magic of this year’s WWG without starting with Fruition — the Portland based quintet.
Fruition put on not one but two of WWG’s best performances of the weekend. So, how did they do it you might ask? They reminded everyone of the power of the electric guitar within a small venue. They literally caused a crowd of people to “Boil Over” at that same venue, which was at the top of the Steamboat gondola. They invited their friends from Elephant Revival and others to close out their late night party.
Fruition reminded us that they could both rock hard on “Labor of Love” and harmonize effortlessly on “The Meaning” in the dumping snow during their festival set. They bounced between genres during both sets in a way that showcased their versatility, and that was only matched by Leftover Salmon throughout the weekend. Witnessing a band harness their ability and improve their sound from show to show represents a music listener’s highest and most pleasurable experience. After each Fruition performance, we were literally bowing down in pure bliss. Thank you.
Other highlights of the weekend included the aforementioned Leftover Salmon entertaining the crowd the first night with a mix of vocal command and technical prestige. If you haven’t heard Andy Thorn on banjo, then put it on your bucket list.
Elephant Revival showed us why a song like “Grace of a Woman” was written, times two.
The Infamous Stringdusters and Railroad Earth gave the traditional sounds of bluegrass their due with sets that left many hooting and hollering for well over an hour.
The California Honeydrops and The Brothers Comatose warrant mention for their daytime performances. The former included the best horn section of the weekend and a tiger one-piece. And, the latter featured the only shirtless fiddle player of the weekend.
The tents provided a mixture of Colorado craft beer, Colorado bluegrass, and rare Colorado February warmth. Each element added to the environment that encouraged laughs, smiles, and an embrace only a true friendship could know.
We must pay dues to Scotty Stoughton and the entire Bonfire Entertainment team for executing their vision. The festival continues to improve, and the gap that existed in years past between the skiing and the music has evaporated before our eyes thanks to the partnership between WWG and Steamboat Springs. Vail Resorts, your endless quest to improve your bottom line has blinded you to one of the most important aspects of any ski town — that town’s specific culture. Big ups to all the beautiful people that made the 2017 WinterWonderGrass unforgettable. Look out for the next rendition in Squaw Valley in April!