YarmonyGrass | 08.15 - 08.17 | Colorado

Words by: Brian Heisler | Images by: Tobin Voggesser

YarmonyGrass :: 08.15.08 – 08.17.08 :: Copper Mountain Ski Resort :: Frisco, CO

YarmonyGrass 2008
In its third year, YarmonyGrass moved to a new and bigger location at Copper Mountain, after the State Bridge Lodge in Bond, CO, burned down a year ago. However, Copper Mountain has become a renowned Colorado host for festivals. With a larger venue and even larger lineup, anticipation was high for the event. Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate. Friday morning a major storm rolled into the mountains, dumping rain, hail, and even snow, with temperatures dropping below 40-degrees - in August. The weather prevented many from traveling on Friday, but seemed to have no effect on the spirits of those who did make it out for the weekend.

Friday, August 15

Friday focused on Colorado's own up-and-coming bluegrass faithful. Nederland's Elephant Revival got things going and Fort Collins-based Head For The Hills warmed-up the cold crowd before the sun went down. Michael Kang and Scott Law made their first appearances of the festival with Strings For Industry, closing the main stage. The most compelling part of Friday was found in the late night Revival Tent. Two of the scene's next big bluegrass bands tore open the tent, beginning with Michigan's Greensky Bluegrass. Chicago's Cornmeal followed to create the biggest buzz of the day, turning heads and moving up the food chain, just as they have been across the nation.

Saturday, August 16

Saturday was the day of Cheese. Nearly every act had a member of String Cheese Incident in it and everyone was well aware of this fact. A rare Keith Moseley and Friends set opened the day, somewhat reminiscent of Phil Lesh as the great bassist led the way. Cheese's Kyle Hollingsworth followed with his usual exuberance, but still playing to a small crowd as the festivalgoers were still arriving given the continued poor weather. It wasn't until the Emmitt-Nershi Band hit the stage that the crowd really seemed full. The combination of String Cheese Incident songs and Leftover Salmon songs was a perfect fit to grace the Colorado Rocky Mountains. With Billy Nershi singing the bluegrass of "Barstool" and "Good Times Around the Bend," it seemed like old times. Even famous SCI fan Lester took part in the festivities, dancing carelessly through the rain in his tie-dye long underwear.

Allie Kral with RRE :: YarmonyGrass 2008
Railroad Earth really owned the stage both Saturday and Sunday, playing all the appropriate songs. The Saturday set began with "Storms," a fitting tune for the weekend's weather. "Elko" continued the set with Scott Law on electric guitar, who turned out to be the hardest working artist at YarmonyGrass. "Mighty River" seemed to sum up the feeling of the day, but at the same time it showed the crowd's resilience to beat the weather and let smiling faces and happy feet reign in the mud of Copper Mountain. "Peace On Earth" and "Colorado" perfectly fit the theme as well, and a cover of Marvin Gaye's hit "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)," which included Scott Law and the lovely backup singers, showed just how the rain and cold weather could not affect the joyful audience.

Keller Williams and the artists formerly known as the WMDs closed the main stage. Keller's all star band has proven to be quite a bit different from his solo routine. In the past, Keller rarely allowed himself to close a festival, but the band was every bit primed to do just that. The only group that really didn't play bluegrass, Keller's band rocked YarmonyGrass, which many hoped would be a perfect setup for the much anticipated late night set that would reunite String Cheese Incident.

The trance of EOTO made the giant tent bounce as hoopers on stage entertained. The completion of EOTO's set brought out the Rebel Alliance Jam. The big Cheese reunion everyone had hoped for never happened, but all the members of Cheese except for Moseley added to the jam at some point. A party filled with covers saw Keller take the lead on Bob Marley's "Trenchtown Rock." "Franklin's Tower" and "Lay Down Sally" moved the crowd to the heaviest dancing of the night. "Hey Pockey Way" highlighted the late night with an electric solo from Nershi and closed the night. The late nights were early and shorter than usual, but that just left more energy for the daytime.

Sunday, August 17

Peter Rowan :: YarmonyGrass 2008
The most tenured musician of the festival, Peter Rowan, began Sunday's music with an outstanding morphing cast of friends that included several members of Railroad Earth and Hot Buttered Rum. RRE's mandolin player John Skehan added a sweet, delicate touch, the perfect compliment to Rowan's music. "Thanks for coming up to the mountains with us, just as summer's reaching its peak!" Rowan joked. The classic "Panama Red" could not be passed up, which Rowan seemed to improvise into a segue of Elizabeth Cotten's "Freight Train." Rowan received the first encore of the weekend, excluding the late night sets. "The guy who put this [festival] together is named Andrew. He requested this song," Rowan explained before playing the encore of "Ruby Ridge." Hands down, Peter Rowan was the best true bluegrass storyteller of the weekend.

Hot Buttered Rum was one of the most alive sets of YarmonyGrass. With a dedication to the friend it was written for, "Hugs, Not Handshakes" got the crowd hugging one another. "Golden Days" followed and The Beatles' "I've Got a Feeling" continued with a swap in instruments as Aaron Redner switched from violin to mandolin and Zachary Matthews switched from mandolin to drums. Billy Nershi and Scott Law made their way into the set, as did Allie Kral of Cornmeal for "Cumberland Blues" to close the set.

An electric Honkytonk Homeslice set brought about Nershi and Law again, with the band wearing matching purple and black shirts. The electric set was far more fitting for the excited Yarmony crowd than the usual Honkytonk makeup would have been. Then, it was back to Railroad Earth, this time with a special horns lineup that included Danny Sears on trumpet (Panjea), Dominic Lalli on alto saxophone (The Motet) and Bob Hemminger on tenor saxophone. The horn section really added power and dimension to the already-strong grass sound of Railroad Earth. Opener "Long Way to Go" was a great motivator for the crowd that had danced through the cold and rain all weekend. The new "Hard Livin'" has become a crowd favorite and kept the mood festive. A special request from new parents and grandparents was granted in "Came Up Smilin'." The guests continued with Allie Kral, Scott Law and the backup vocals of Sheryl Renee, Coco Brown and Shelly Lindsey. Railroad Earth closed YarmonyGrass with another favorite in "Dandelion Wine."

With its first run at Copper Mountain, no inclement weather could prevent the dancing. With cozy condos only steps from the stage, for most, there were no hiccups at all. Festivalgoers traveled "high in the Rocky Mountains," and there they found every bit of new age bluegrass and unbridled beauty they expected.

YarmonyGrass 2008
Continue reading for more images from YarmonyGrass 2008...

Allie Kral
Kyle Hollingsworth
Railroad Earth
Railroad Earth
Railroad Earth
Emmitt-Nershi Band
Hot Buttered Rum
Elephant Revival
Jessica Kilroy
Tye North & Michael Kang - Strings For Industry
Keller Williams & The WMDs
Bill Nershi & Keith Moseley - Honkytonk Homeslice
Rebel Alliance Jam
Bill Nershi - Rebel Alliance Jam
Rebel Alliance Jam

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Mark Price former NBA star starstarstarstarstar Wed 9/3/2008 06:27PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Mark Price former NBA star

Best weekend of my life.

sk8er4ever0101 starstarstarstarstar Wed 9/3/2008 06:32PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

sounds great! but im kind of glad i didnt dissapoint myself driving almost 20 hours HOPING cheese would play when they didnt

Mark Price former NBA star Wed 9/3/2008 06:32PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Mark Price former NBA star

Oh yeah and Allie Kral of cornmeal is so hot.

Mr. Brojangles starstarstarstarstar Wed 9/3/2008 07:14PM
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I dig the review and the pictures! I wish I could have made it to this one and it sucks the weather didn't cooperate. Even though I know it's the Rockies, it's still funny seeing people in coats and wool hats in August. But the smiles on all the faces show me how much fun I missed. Looking forward to Camp Zoe.

Phattiebace Wed 9/3/2008 07:16PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I'm pretty sure cheese would have the decency to announce when they will ALL be playing on the same stage together again...Can u think of any epic bands that have made an unannounced reunion? I wish I could've been here tho, looks very scenic and secluded...I cant get enough bluegrass lately, YMSB, RRE, and Cornmeal, who is simply getting better with every show. hollahollaholla

megustaphish starstarstarstarstar Wed 9/3/2008 07:26PM
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looked like it was a good time, can't wait for EOTO w/ kang and kyle in chicago!

chancho Wed 9/3/2008 08:06PM
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yeah it was fun with some awesome music but a boo to copper for charging so much for the tickets, charging extra to get into the revival tent, and then charging 30 bucks for crappy camping. what ever happened to the free music? but other than copper trying to nickel and dime me it was pretty awesome.

phreak89 Wed 9/3/2008 08:43PM
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Looks like it was insane!! But, yet another missed opportunity for me on my home...i was hoping to get back to CO for it but plans changed. oh well, there's still plenty of good shit everyday all over CO and i'm definitely gonna be seeing as much as i can while i can. TLG tomorrow in Nashville while i'm driving out there, then to my sweet home Colorado!

RothburyWithCheese starstarstarstarstar Wed 9/3/2008 08:58PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


The best festival of the summer that no one talked about. Great lineup!!!

iwantstogetfunkedup Wed 9/3/2008 09:15PM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

What I want to know is when did a bunch of hot chicks start playing bluegrass??!!

aquariumdrunk Thu 9/4/2008 06:49AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Hey - I wonder who took those pictures?

foadser Thu 9/4/2008 07:07AM
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"You let the OUT!"--Eric Cartmen

foadser Thu 9/4/2008 07:14AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

sorry that^^ should read: "You let them out!?!?!?" -- Eric Cartmen

acomma Thu 9/4/2008 07:26AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Jessica Kilroy is a dime piece! Hot damn I need to end my dry spell!

acomma Thu 9/4/2008 07:29AM
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And one thing about Cheese... it's better to let each member get their musical itches out of their systems, however long that might take. That will pave the way for a GREAT Cheese reunion, not a mediocre summer tour 2007 reminiscent show.

Chaloupka Thu 9/4/2008 07:47AM
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I can't believe people still play with hula hoops.

Robusto Thu 9/4/2008 09:54AM
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Damn. That look's like a good time. Nothin' better than CO in the summer.

thisiswhathappenslarry Thu 9/4/2008 11:37AM
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what's wrong with hoola hoops Chaloupka?

iwantstogetfunkedup Thu 9/4/2008 11:47AM
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Aquarium drunk- That would be Tobin Voggesser that took the pics! haha

I agree a little over the top

Marcsmall Thu 9/4/2008 12:20PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I agree, Hula Hoops are an annoying nuisance.

jareddarkstar star Thu 9/4/2008 12:33PM
Show -5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
mmmFriedFrogLegs Thu 9/4/2008 04:59PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


seemed like a good turnout wish i coulda been there, i think its awesome Railroad Earth got the schedule hook up they deserve, they are on fire and my personal favorite bluegrass/rootsy band out there. as far as hoola hoops go, i like to see the heady sistas doin there thing grinnin and movin their hips. now as far as an "annoying nuisance" lets talk about the frisbee people, wish i could hold back the negativity on this subject but man i hate those things , i dont even make eye contact with someone holdin one as to avoid it being thrown towards me, not to mention i dodge the general area they are being used in. kudos to the photographers of this fest, and bill nershi thats one groovy purple button down shirt heh

chancho Thu 9/4/2008 06:05PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Actually the small crowd was nice. there wasnt annoying frat boys like jareddarkstar running around. not to mention you were always close to the stage the whole festival. pretty sweet.

Chaloupka Thu 9/4/2008 09:13PM
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There's nothing wrong with them if you're 8 years old. Dig your username by the way!

jareddarkstar Fri 9/5/2008 12:12PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

i seen more shows then you will ever see & i didnt even graduate high scool because i was on dead tour. chancho so i guess that means im not a frat boy that fest looked weak just like the string cheese last tour

NRSingh Fri 9/5/2008 02:15PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

good review.

however "A rare Keith Moseley and Friends set opened the day, somewhat reminiscent of Phil Lesh as the great bassist led the way. "

made me laugh hard.

mickrod420 starstarstarstarstar Sat 9/6/2008 08:54AM
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RRE is an incredible band. anyone and everyone must see them live.

mmmFriedFrogLegs Sat 9/6/2008 07:10PM
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you really know how to market yourself hahahahaha

seriously though that comment you made at 12:12pm on 9/5/08

wtf? haha

Jamfreaky starstarstarstarstar Wed 9/10/2008 04:34PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

BESt Festi of the year by far!

Magi starstarstarstarstar Sat 10/11/2008 07:18AM
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Yarmony...yarmuddy..Copper Mountain.

Whatever you call it, it was hands down the best festival of the year. It was one of those things we called "a Happening" back in the day. No matter where you were or where you were going, "IT" was happening! I kept saying I couldn't take 10 steps without getting a hug or giving a hug to/from someone I knew! It was totally awesome, the crowd, the vibe, the music. I'll be there next year, no matter where they have it. I gotta admit, the super plush atmosphere of Copper Mountain was off the scale great! Instead of lines to a dirty porta-potty, in 2 minutes I was back in my condo with a fireplace, full fridge, friends and lots of fun!

...and it ain't about the hula hoops...it's about the mind set...you know...having fun, dressing up(and I don't mean top designers) and dancing till you can't stand up any more. Granted, the Kaviala Hoopers added much spark to the event and it was fun to see some of the things they can do with a piece of plastic plumbing pipe!

Railroad Earth, Hot Buttered Rum, Honkeytonk Homeslice, Cornmeal, Boris Garcia, Peter ROWAN(OMG) Mosely, Droll, Sipe and Williams, and so so so many more! It was big enough to attract great musicians and small enough to be standing in the crowd and realize the person beside you was Bryan Horne(Hot BUttered Rum) or John Skeehan(Railroad Earth).

I had fun. You won't. don't go next year. 2,400 was a perfect number of folks. (just kidding, see you there!)

p.s. that's me in the long pigtails on the rail with my friends in the pic at the top of this page