MeadowGrass sows musical field of dreams

0
1240

Photo by Ryan Hannigan Trout Steak Revival played MeadowGrass in 2015.

Since its debut in 2009, the MeadowGrass Music Festival on Memorial Day weekend has become a treasured local event.

Held on the grounds of historic La Foret Conference and Retreat Center in Black Forest, the family-friendly festival offers three days of bluegrass and American roots music under the big tent.

MeadowGrass isn’t a money-making commercial venture. It’s a community effort, one driven by scores of volunteers, musicians and music-lovers.

Rocky Mountain Highway, the nonprofit that presents MeadowGrass every year, sees the festival as a field of dreams, a place to develop and support a vibrant local music culture.

“We’re all about original music and live performances by people who write their own music,” said RMH executive director Steve Harris. “Music brings people together, therefore we believe in making time to listen.”

Each year, the festival features performances from more than 20 national, regional and local artists, as well as music workshops, yoga, kids activities and camping. It’s a gentle, safe, fun and spirited environment.

Given that late May weather in the Pikes Peak region can feature brilliant sunshine, torrential rain, unseasonable snow flurries or all the above during the three-day weekend, it’s best to come prepared.

The 2015 event, affectionately remembered as “MuddowGrass,” reminded some veteran festivalgoers of a certain 1969 event on Max Yasgur’s farm. But skies were clear in 2016, much to the relief of performers and attendees.

This year, the lineup included Jeff Austin (former mandolin player and lead vocalist of the Yonder Mountain String Band), the American-Québécois Barr Brothers, David Wax Museum, Denver’s Strawberry Runners, and Nashville-based Judah & the Lion, which features Colorado Springs native Nate Zuercher on banjo. Other groups and performers included Jeremy Facknitz, Matt Flinner Trio, Fruit Bats, Leopard & the Vine, Smith House, Justus League, Free the Honey, Wendy Woo, Jalan Crossland, Jackie Greene, Mike Clark & the Sugar Sounds, The River Arkansas, Moors & McCumber, Megan Burtt, Mandolin Orange and Chauncy Crandall.

“The goal,” according to RMH’s pitch on the Give! website, “is to create an iconic festival, similar to Telluride Bluegrass or Rocky Mountain Folks Fest, and make Colorado Springs THE destination for music tourism by fostering local talent, attracting national artists and ensuring the legacy of this local tradition. Music feeds our souls, but it can also feed our local economy. RMH strives to give Colorado Springs a music festival that will foster a sense of pride, as well as an unforgettable celebration of music to share with family and friends. With support from Give! we can attract even more elite talent to MeadowGrass and our house concert series and extend our advocacy for local musicians beyond the Pikes Peak region.”

Since 2009, more than 175 acts have played in RMH events, including 60 from the Pikes Peak region.

Cash donations to MeadowGrass through Give! will be supported by matching grants totaling $4,600 from Classic Homes, Edelweiss Restaurant, MeadowGrass Team, The Faricy Boys Jeep Chrysler and an anonymous donor.

And yes, volunteers are always welcome! Needs include attendees and volunteers at concerts and events; volunteers to join the street team and hang posters; tents, chairs, sound equipment, staging and fencing; office space; and food and beverage donations.

See you there in 2017… and whatever you do, don’t pray for rain.