WinterWonderGrass returns to Palisades Tahoe from March 31 to April 2. The music festival rooted in bluegrass and Americana brings a diverse lineup of established and up-and-coming musicians to the Sierra Nevada.
The festival founder, Scotty Stoughton, said he and his team can’t wait to be back and want to carry on from where they left off last year.
“The last Tahoe event, in 2022, was our best WinterWonderGrass ever,” he said. “We loved the energy, the community and the appreciation we felt from everybody.”
While the festival’s roots are in bluegrass and Americana music, Stoughton said they include other types of styles of music that fits the WWG vibe. He said the only requirement is if the electricity cuts out, the band must continue to play (because of the uncertainty of weather in the winter).
“We’re excited to host a lot of new bands this year,” he said. “We’re always trying to be creative. We’re bluegrass-focused but WinterWonderGrass is a little more inclusive to many other styles.”
This year’s headliners include WWG staples Trampled By Turtles and Greensky Bluegrass while bringing in a new act with rising artist Marcus King.
There are 25 bands across four stages each day, and there are late-night indoor shows on the premises and in nearby towns. Many of the acts are familiar faces to the WWG crowd while others are newcomers. The lineup also includes: The Main Squeeze, The Lone Bellow, Molly Tuttle, Mapache, Neal Francis, Tray Wellington Band, Big Richard, AJ Lee & Blue Summit, Lindsay Lou, Pixie and the Partygrass Boys, Cris Jacobs Band, the Brothers Comatose, Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country and more.
Kyle Tuttle and Lindsay Lou are artists at large, which means they will be sitting-in on many sets.
“They take their energy and just sprinkle it everywhere,” Stoughton said.
The festival also includes a set of WinterWonderWomen. It highlights the women performers of the festival as they all get together on stage to play.
Megan Letts, who has been part of WWG since early on, said the WinterWonderWomen sets are always rare and special. After the Colorado event, she talked with Stoughton to make sure it was added.
“We’re making it happen again last-minute,” she said. “It’s going to be great.”
The big news this year is the 50-plus feet of snow received this year. This limits the space and Stoughton said they might have to make small adjustments. He said it is important for people to buy tickets ahead of time because they might not be able to sell tickets the gate.
“There is a high likelihood that tickets won’t be available the day of the show,” he said.
Besides the minor adjustments for space, Stoughton said there won’t be any big changes and the festival will have the same format and layout as it has in the past. Stoughton said the layout works well so they don’t need to change that, so guests can expect the same experience as before.
BUILDING ON THE COLORADO ENERGY
The Colorado WWG event took place a few weeks ago and Stoughton said the energy carries over into the California event.
At last year’s Colorado event, he said it was still close to coming out of the pandemic, and people were excited but still apprehensive.
“This year in Colorado the love poured through everybody; every single artist, every single staff member and volunteer,” he said. “I really never felt anything like it.”
He said the festival went off with 6,000 people a day, 500 kids and no complaints. It snowed for three days straight, but it wasn’t too cold.
Letts said many bands can build on everything they do in Colorado at the California event. Many of the bands play both events and there’s a lot of collaborating between musicians. Everybody has a little more time to plan out stuff like that, but they also keep it organic and natural too, Letts said.
As part of WinterWonderWomen, Letts said they are going to bring the house down with some of their song choices.
“Because it is a little bit warmer and toastier, I think the sets are just going to be really exceptional,” she said. “The heat is going to translate — it’s going to be hot.”
The weather is another factor for the outdoor festival, as the California event comes a month later, and Letts said that brings a different vibe.
“You can see the joy and warmth in everybody emanating out, unlike everybody huddled up in Colorado,” she said.
The festival wants to maintain a good relationship with the community with its sustainability practices. Stoughton said their program is one of, if not the best in the country. It involves a crew leading a team of volunteers to sort recycling, waste and compost to keep as much stuff out of landfills as possible. They also provide reusable stainless-steel cups for drinks.
“That’s a high priority for us,” Stoughton said.
He said the festival’s Green Team is important to see in action because of the young kids who will see what’s being done and hopefully carry that into the future.
“That’s a good example,” he said. “Those things are really important to us in terms of sustainability.”
Another big part of the festival’s efforts is providing transportation. The festival emphasizes carpooling for transportation, but they also provide a transportation program to nearby locations. Stoughton said it provides more opportunities for people and options and keeps people from drinking and driving.
Stoughton said he appreciates all the love and outpouring support from the community. He thanks everyone for continuing to welcome the festival and that his team doesn’t take it for granted.
“We want it to be the best time and treat it like our last time, because life is short,” he said.
For more information, visit www.winterwondergrass.com
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