Grapes & Grass Boulder: Make Bluegrass Classy Again!
Grapes and Grass Wine and Bluegrass Festival 2018
If you read Festy GoNuts regularly (and of course, you should!) you may have picked up on a little bit of gushing over Colorado music festivals of late. Recently, we documented what an amazing river festival looks like in our Yarmonygrass review. This past weekend we were lucky enough to experience yet another wonderful Colorado music festival, this time of a completely different variety.
The second annual Grapes and Grass music festival took place yet again at the gorgeous Highland City Club in Boulder, Colorado. Set on the grounds of a historic renovated school building, Highland City Club is an oasis in downtown Boulder. With lush gardens and beautiful water features, the club makes for the perfect location to add a bit of class to our celebration of music.
And class it up we did!
The festivities began for some on Friday evening. Purchasers of the VIP pass were treated to a pre-party featuring wine tastings and dinner, with intimate performances by Timber and The Mighty Pines. Leftover Salmon’s Andy Thorn joined The Mighty Pines for several songs that got the crowd dancing and set the tone of things to come!
VIP guests were also treated to a private brunch the following morning, and perhaps a little necessary hair-of-the-dog after the tastings of the previous eve! For the general ticket holders to the sold-out festival, the party kicked off at 10:30 AM on Saturday, with the first included complimentary wine tasting commencing at 11:00.
A beautiful Boulder day greeted us as we arrived Saturday morning, and the music of Wood Belly served as our early afternoon welcome. For those with kids in tow, a Drum Safari had led the morning activities earlier, highlighting the festival’s emphasis on creating a more family-friendly atmosphere this year.
The move to make Grapes and Grass more inviting to families was also evident in a few of the other details we immediately noticed. A pair of goats greeted us as we made our entrance to the festival, although the enthusiasm for these adorable critters was not limited to just the little ones! There was also a large craft table for the kids and kids-at-heart, where participants made bubble wands, hand-kites, and other cute crafts.
The stage setup differed a bit from 2017’s Grapes and Grass. The Highland Stage, which last year served as the main stage, now played host to intimate performances between each of the new main stage’s acts. Chunky Whiskey, Bonnie and Taylor Sims, The Whys and Musk N’ Boots all entertained the crowd while many relaxed on the lawn with their wine or bubbly, taking in the music, the scenery and the friends who abounded at Grapes and Grass.
The new Main Stage was erected in the parking area below the gardens and featured a much larger dance area and greater sound, serving up a terrific location for a show. After Wood Belly, we were treated to some funky jazz jams from Philadelphia’s Dirk Quinn Band. Ragged Union was then joined by “Burle” Galloway for a show that got the party into the swing of things as the crowd thickened and the food vendors began to see some action.
The food was another definite improvement over last year’s festival. Several more options were added this time, and there was something to satisfy every appetite without long lines to deal with. And speaking of lines, the improved bathroom situation was definitely noted, as we moved from port-a-pots to clean and plentiful indoor bathroom trailers. Nice upgrade, Grapes and Grass! After all, when getting classy, who wants to go into a port-a-pot with a glass of Bordeaux?
Speaking of Bordeaux, with Master Sommelier Brett Zimmerman leading the wine programming this year, we were sure to be quaffing some of the best selections available. Complimentary tastings were peppered throughout the event, and attendees were given the opportunity to sample some truly special vintages. We chose to start with the bubbly, leading into sparkling rosé and some other refreshing whites. As the party progressed we eventually found ourselves enjoying some extremely fine reds. We may have even snuck a beer in there just for good measure!
Yup, we got super classy!
As the afternoon moved on, we were blessed with just the right amount of cloud cover and the occasional welcome breeze. A perfect Colorado day kept smiles on the faces and dancing in the feet of everyone enjoying the festivities. Lonesome Days assisted in keeping the dancing going, and the wine tastings certainly aided the smiles!
Following a uniquely entertaining set by Tiffany Christopher and The Hunting Party, The Mighty Pines took to the main stage. After their energetic performance the prior evening, we were excited to see what this crew from St. Louis could do with a larger audience. The crowd was ready, and The Mighty Pines delivered another stellar set. They were joined again by their new pal, Andy Thorn, and they jammed together as if they had rehearsed for days.
When The Mighty Pines closed out their set with Shakedown Street, we were taught a valuable lesson – you can dress up the hippies and serve us fancy wine, but play the Grateful Dead and we’re gonna get down!
This theory was quickly put to the test with the headliner of the festival. Arthur Lee Land and his band were joined by Andy Thorn and Drew Emmitt (from Leftover Salmon) for a dual set of “Twang is Dead” and “Twang is Salmon.” After a number of Grateful Dead covers that immediately proved the hippie hypothesis correct, we were then treated to several Leftover Salmon tunes as well.
As Andy Thorn traded between his fiddle and banjo, and Arthur Lee Land traded licks back and forth with Drew Emmitt, the crowd got down in earnest, counting their blessings for catching such a powerful yet also intimate performance.
The festival drew to a close, but the music was not finished yet!
The Boulder Theater hosted an after-party that was included with the Grapes and Grass ticket. The Drunken Hearts gave us the jolt of energy we needed to catch a second (or third? fourth?) wind after a long day of wine, dancing and sunshine. They were joined briefly onstage by – you guessed it – Andy Thorn, who seems to enjoy Grapes and Grass as much as anyone! Gasoline Lollipops closed out the evening and kept us on our feet till the very end.
We are so lucky to have the incredible amount of options we enjoy in Colorado when it comes to live music. We can dance to music in iconic amphitheaters, or while floating in a river. We have venues in historic hotels and on the tops of mountains.
Now, we can also drink fine wine and enjoy the comforts of a high-class social club in the heart of Boulder.
Colorado truly has it all, and that now includes Grapes and Grass!