Wintergrass is a music festival that began in Tacoma 20 years ago and moved to Bellevue in 2009. While still focused on Bluegrass, it has evolved over the years to include a variety of Americana, roots, acoustic, and even international genres. Lorette and I started going maybe 10 years ago and have made it an annual event ever since. Here are some photos from Wintergrass 2015: February 26-March1.
First off, the location: The Hyatt Regency Bellevue. Give me a four-star hotel over camping out with porta-potties and mosquitos anytime!
Our room was on the 16th floor, facing west toward Seattle, across Lake Washington.
So let the music begin…
Wintergrass isn’t just about the music. Bellevue has a host of fine eateries and one of my favorite is…
We managed to eat here twice during the weekend. Here is some of what we enjoyed.
Back to the music. Here’s Laurie Lewis and her group joined by Aoife O’Donovan.
Aoife O’Donovan solo.
And Aoife (pronounced ‘ee-fah’) with Sarah Jaroz who will join her April 18 in Sweden then on to the UK for their I’m With Her tour. Both women have an amazing range that transcends genres.
Wintergrass isn’t just about music and dumplings. It sometimes involves cocktails with friends.
I’m guessing that most people that come to the festival play an instrument and bring it along. Jams occur almost everywhere. Fortunately, the Hyatt has quiet floors for us non-musicians.
And where there are musicians, there are vendors selling musical instruments.
One of the four stages is usually set up for dancing. Here’s the G Burns Jug Band from San Diego.
Each year there is a surprise act: a group that no one really knew much about but that really lights up the audience. This time it was The Steel Wheels from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
And sometimes there is a group that doesn’t resemble anything close to Bluegrass. This year it was Birds of Chicago, described in the program as a band that leaves no genre unaccounted for, no touchstone unturned. Everything from a cappella spiritual and acoustic balladry to country rock.
Wintergrass has a number of programs for young people to encourage a lifelong love of music. One of the highlights on Sunday is when the Wintergrass Youth Orchestra (130 middle schoolers) performs with professional artists from the festival. This year that included Aoife O’Donovan, Sarah Jarosz, Matuto (an Afro-Brazilian-Roots band; Darol Anger, and Mark O’Connor.
And finally, the weekend ended with a performance by Mark O’Connor and his wife, Maggie. Mark is a virtuoso whether he is playing old time fiddle music or using the same instrument to play a violin concerto. One of my favorites is his version of Ashokan Farewell. If you’ve never heard it, check it out on your favorite music service.
And so ends yet another Wintergrass Music Festival. If anyone is interested, tickets for 2016 are on sale now!