This years YarmmonyGrass Music Festival took place in State Bridge, Colo. from August 2-5. It included various musical performances over four days as well as tons of daytime activities during non-music time including floating down the mighty Colorado river and was a smashing weekend of bluegrass.
After setting up camp I took a little time to meet some people, rendezvous with old friends and check out the sights of State Bridge before the music started.
Then, the Olora Brothers got the weekend going on the main stage down at State Bridge.
They offered a really solid sound that was a nice, mellow ease into the long weekend of music ahead. Next it was time for the first of Fruition’s four sets of the weekend. I have heard a lot of great things about Fruition for a long time but never had the chance to see them live until Yarmony and after finally getting to see them play I could see what all the hoopla was about.
The energy and intensity of Frution’s tunes were perfect for night one, the band seemed just as excited as the crowd for the chance to be at YarmonyGrass and they were showing it in their picking.
After a great hour long set from Fruition, it was time for the headliner of the night Poor Man’s Whiskey to take the stage along side String Cheese Incident’s Michael Kang for Dark Side of the Moonshine, a bluegrassy take on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album.
Before Darkside, the band came out for the first set without Michael to jam out some bluegrass tunes of their own.
After the first set, the band took a short break but returned quickly dressed as characters from the Wizard of OZ and brought the house down with a cover of the entire Dark Side of the Moon album.
Seeing Dark Side played in such a bluegrass style was fantastic, the performance was really jammy and the songs were all on pointe. They ended up playing the album for over 2 hours and it was a great start to what was sure to be a raging weekend.
Friday started off a little slow, after a late night watching the Magic Beans at Rancho Del Rio after Poor Man’s Whiskey I decided to sleep in.
After waking up at around noon I made my way down to State Bridge to check out the Fort Collins group Musketeer Gripweed, which includes Colorado State sociology professor Jason Downing.
Near the end of the set Sheryl Renee of the Contribution came up onto stage to belt it out with the band for a couple tunes.
After Musketeer Gripweed, Good Gravy hit the stage for a little set of their own. This was second of three times shooting the band for the summer and I enjoy their show more and more each time I see them.
After Good Gravy I headed back to camp for a quick nap and some dinner and then went straight back down to catch Sons a Fathers. The Texas based band brought wonderful sound and energy to the stage and played with an intensity that hadn’t been seen from the days earlier bands.
From Sons of Fathers there was a quick set break while The Contribution got set up, so I headed up the hill to catch one of the banjo great’s Danny Barnes.
After some great tunes from Mr. Barnes, it was back down the hill for the super group The Contribution. The band includes members or String Cheese Incident, Railroad Earth and New Monsoon and brings a wonderful mix of bluegrass and rock. I had the chance to see them at Horning’s Hideout earlier in the summer so was very excited for their performance Friday evening.
As expected, The Contribution killed it. They played a lot of songs I was familiar with which always makes it fun and their energy with every song made it a wonderful end to the night. Although there was a little more music going on late night, I decided to call it a day and headed back to camp with two great nights of music in the books.
Saturday, the night everyone was waiting for. With Railroad Earth, Elephant Revival and and the Bill Nershi Joint Set all scheduled for the night it was sure to be a raging one.
The Grant Farm got things started for the day with a nice mid-afternoon set which allowed everyone the chance to play in the river a bit before seeing some tunes.
Near the end of the set Keith Moseley of String Cheese Incident joined the band for a couple of songs on the guitar and vocals.
After Grant Farm came The Drunken Hearts along with Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth and Scott Law. The Hearts bring an elegant bluegrass sound and having Tim and Scoot join them made for a wonderful warm-up for Elephant Revival.
Next up was one of my favorite groups to see perform, Elephant Revival. Their musicality and just plain happy melodies keeping me attending their shows time and again and their first of two YarmonyGrass sets was surely one for the books.
Near the end of the set Elephant Revival invited Fruition to play along with them, however Frution was to play directly after Elephant on another stage up the Hill. So Fuition played from the Hill stage while Elephant played on the main stage and the two jammed together from across the venue in one of the more memorable moments from the weekend.
After the song, Elephant Revival left the stage while Fruition continued playing through while the main stage was setup for Railroad Earth.
After a quick little set from Fruition, their third of the weekend, it was back down to the Main Stage for headliner of the weekend, Railroad Earth. The crowd was full of Railroad faithful and there was clearly magic in the air.
The boys jammed out for a little bit and then went into the song “Railroad Earth”, a favorite among many fans. Just as the words were to start a locomotive passed outside the venue and blew its horn, sending the crowd into thunderous excitement and cementing the song permanently in everyones memory and the night just rolled on from there.
After two incredible sets from Railroad Earth it was hard to believe there was even more great tunes to come. The Yarmony Creek House band took the Hill stage during the set break and a lot of the venue cleared out for a bit. After about a half an hour BIll Nershi and a crew of various pickers from the weekend took the stage to Jam into the night.
Various artists came on and off the stage throughout the 3 hour long set, at one point in particular Elephant Revival and Billy played together for a few songs.
Near the end of the night Nershi invited everyone from throughout the night back onto stage for a group jam session and night ending rage fest that packed the stage with 21 people singing, dancing and picking the night away.
The group threw down a killer version of “Lime and the Coconut” that had the Yarmony crowd screaming right along. Nershi’s Joint Set was a perfect ending to an already magical night. The Magic Beans ending playing over at the campgrounds for a couple more hours allowing those with anything left in their engines to wind down, but most headed back to their tents to rest up for the final evening of tunes.
After taking a good part of the morning to catch up on lost sleep, many campers headed to the Colorado River one last time to catch the 4 mile float before the music started back up at around 5 p.m. After taking a little longer than planned post float nap, I made it back down to the venue to catch the final two acts of the weekend, first Fort Collins locals Bonfire Dub, followed by another elegant set from Elephant Revival.
Bonfire Dub brought a Dub/Reggae sound that was a little different than the bluegrass and jam music heard throughout the weekend, but was a nice change of pace and helped bring the mellow mood that was then be topped off by Elephant Revival.
Elephant played a great set that jammed for well over two hours before sending everyone on their way. With a wonderful well-rounded weekend of Bluegrass, Folk and Jam music the 2012 YarmonyGrass festival was in the books. Complete photos from the weekend can be found here.