Woodshed Red has performed twice at MeadowGrass Music Festival, playing the late show for those who stick around after the headliner. But this year the strings-heavy Colorado Springs bluegrass band will be featured on the main stage of the iconic Big Yellow Tent.
“Grateful and excited are the two main emotions we’re feeling about it,” drummer Skye Lewis said. “We’re coming up on six years as a band in July, so this has been a festival that’s grown with us — or we’ve grown with it. We’re extremely honored.”
The 11th annual event will be Friday through Sunday at La Foret Conference & Retreat Center in Black Forest.
Woodshed Red holds the 8:15 p.m. slot Friday. Saturday’s headliner is Tea Leaf Green, a San Francisco-based jam band with a large Colorado fanbase. Sunday’s big name is Reckless Kelly, a popular country band from Austin, Texas. Other performers include Daniel Rodriguez of Elephant Revival, The Ballroom Thieves, Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express, Eilen Jewell, The Mammals, Shannon McNally, Meadow Mountain, Heavy Diamond Ring and Upstate. Other local acts include Tenderfoot Bluegrass, Roma Ransom, A New Brain for Arnie, and Blue Frog. For a full lineup, visit RockyMountainHighway.org
“I like to have very energetic or full-on rock-n-roll sort of shows to close each evening,” said Steve Harris, talent buyer and coordinator for Rocky Mountain Highway music collective, the organizer of the festival. ”But of course I’m excited about all the bands.”
Although music is the focus, there’s also camping, yoga, workshops, a beer festival, food trucks, vendors, ice cream, massages by Colorado Institute of Massage Therapy and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s zoomobile.
“New this year are guided walks in the woods focusing on prayer trees led by the nonprofit Association for Native American Sacred Trees and Places. There will be brilliant historians to talk with you about these unbelievable trees and the history of the land. We’ll have two walks on Saturday and two on Sunday,” festival director Nicole Nicoletta said. “We have such a beautiful setting. We really wanted to bring people back to the earth and the natural environment at La Foret.”
Nicoletta, her partner and their twin 13-year-old daughters have volunteered on the trash/recycling crew for the past five years. She raised her hand for the leadership role this year.
“My favorite part of the festival is first thing in the morning when it’s very quiet and it’s just the folks who are camping who are on site. There’s some joy in making sure the festival grounds are tidy and clean when people arrive first thing,” she said.
Rocky Mountain Highway’s 200-plus volunteers keep things running efficiently for the few thousand who will attend.
“The beautiful weekend would not be possible without these volunteers. The festival takes lots of donated time and resources. It’s volunteer-run. We have a very dedicated committee who meets every month during the year and every morning over festival weekend,” Nicoletta said.
Additional help is never turned down, she said. To volunteer and/or to offer your feedback on the festival, visit the website.
MICHELLE KARAS, THE GAZETTE, MICHELLE.KARAS@GAZETTE.COM