YarmonyGrass 8.15 - 8.17.14
Rancho Del Rio
Words By J. Picard
Photos By Kevin Hahn (Split Open & Shoot)
Videos By Steve Wilner
Friday August 15th:
The obtaining of our credentials was smooth and pleasent, as we parked and began unpacking the vehicles at a rapid pace to ensure ample camping. Tents rose from the ground up with a couple of EZ-Ups and Murray's tee-pee providing community shelter as Wichita Run could be heard in the distance. With the set up complete, it was time to crack open a cold beer and fire up some of Colorado's finest crop. Our first walk around the site reflected more infrastructure, more stages and more vending options than in previous years. Our group was impressed and excited about the potential of what would take place. Fort Collins' SHEL took the stage to kick off the weekend's sets on the Chief Yarmony (main stage). Though their turnout was dismal, their sound was sweet and their harmonies smooth.
Following some Frisbee tossing we made our way to the Gravity Lounge which was a dome with fabric draped along the sky and soft purple carpet lining the ground. The vibe was really unique and calming as Roosevelt and Andy Thorn (Leftover Salmon) began their workshop. What followed was a barrage of notes and improvisational excellence from two heavy-hitters. As a train passed through the canyon across the river, Roosevelt teased the sound of the train's whistle on the lap steel. Fans laid on the carpet under the dome and fabric for an hour that ended with a lot of laughs and excitement. We passed by Gipsy Moon, who sounded great, on our way back to camp to refresh our beers and stash the lap steel. Back at camp the space around us had quickly filled in as additional friends and festival goers flooded into Rancho.
Our group headed back to camp for another refill as Musketeer Gripweed took to the Yarmony Creek Saloon. Around this time things started getting loose in the campgrounds as the hilarity of the banter progressed. Bottles of whiskey were passed around as if it were water in the desert. We made our way back to the venue through the darkness where Appalachia Rising was performing a beautiful, but slower set of music. The harmonies were amazing as the music jumped between traditional and progressive. In the back of the field a large group had joined Murray in giving flight to his glow-in-the dark Frisbee. A bonfire came to life with sparks coming off of the fire to dance among the stars. The side of the Milky Way extended from horizon to horizon as shooting stars dashed across the sky.
Life was good as the evening's headliner, The Motet, took the stage. What followed was an about an hour of deep funk that included many of the band's new tracks as well as a few older tracks. Though the music was top notch, the set was plagued with sound issues. I will give it to the band, they tried to stick with it as the sound went out on multiple occasions. Eventually, they were forced to step off of the stage for five minutes to regroup. Upon their return, the funk continued until the set's conclusion. All in all, the scenario was disappointing considering The Motet was Friday's headliner. As the evening grew later, the environment got weirder and weirder. Back in the campgrounds, fireworks were being shot off and beats could be heard in between instruments picking in the distance. Some time in the wee hours of the morning, our Friday came to a close.
Saturday August 16th:
The mild heat of the sun awoke us to another day on the river. Rising Appalachia had an extensive session at the Gravity Lounge as we acquired coffee and breakfast tacos from the Cilantro Truck. A short time later, with beers in hand, we made our way to the farthest point up river within the festival site and jumped onto our inner tubes in the ice cold mountain water. After about ten rounds of floating we were joined by Roosevelt, who floated with us as we splashed ice cold water his way. A short time later we made our way down to KK's BBQ near the entrance to Rancho, where Murray awaited an extensive order with friends. On the other end of Rancho, Coral Creek took the main stage for an early set that sounded good and welcomed a handful of guests, however it boasted limited attendance.
Roosevelt's recommendation of the Gandhi Indian Cuisine food vendor translated to my first epic chicken tikka masala dish of the weekend. We dined and soaked up the sun as yoga was happening in the Gravity Lounge and Bill Nershi took the Chief Yarmony stage for a solo set. Our interests quickly shifted from Bill back to the river for more floating. Upon our return, Kevin Watson & friends was performing at The Yarmony Creek Saloon, with some great special guests. Back at camp, beer had turned to liquor and preparations for the evening began with some early non-sense and a change into warmer clothes. As the clock read 7:30 PM, Andrew McConathy and The Drunken Hearts took to the main stage for their slot. Throughout their hour and fifteen minute set the Drunken Hearts welcomed several guests including Andy Thorn, Roosevelt Collier and Allie Kral for some diverse and energetic compositions and jams. The Drunken Hearts were the Saturday festival highlight.
The Shockenaw Mountain Boys feat. members of Railroad Earth and Allie Kral took the stage next for a very celtic and traditional set. The music was beautiful, though the energy was a little bit slower than what many would have desired for an evening perfomance. Keeler William's Grateful Grass followed with a mixed group of musicians following Keller's lead and trying to keep up with his random changes and stops. The set was rhythmic and loose, though at times a lot of fun. Guests included Allie Kral, Andy Thorn, Roosevelt Collier and Bill Nershi. Back in the campgrounds things were getting wild and rumors of Bill Nershi drinking out of a bottle of tequila were circulating. The sentiment was that it would be an interesting and sloppy "Joint Set."
Sunday August 17th:
Back at camp, the tents came down, items made their way back to our vehicle and goodbyes were said. On the drive home, Roosevelt, our friend Tom and myself reflected on how great the weekend was. The vibe was incredible, the setup almost perfect, the staff was over the top helpful and the experience was exactly what we needed! This year's YarmonyGrass was the most enjoyable that we've attended to date and after that weekend, our group is set on making this an annual event with friends! Congratulations to the Yarmony staff on an incredible, sold out weekend in the mountains!
Kevin's Photo Gallery