While there are a number of fun bluegrass festivals that take place in Colorado, none are quite like Golden’s UllrGrass. First, it is a winter festival. Second, it celebrates community. Third, the …
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While there are a number of fun bluegrass festivals that take place in Colorado, none are quite like Golden’s UllrGrass.
First, it is a winter festival. Second, it celebrates community. Third, the craft beer vendors and musicians that UllrGrass attracts are high-caliber.
“Sam Bush is coming to Golden, Colorado,” said Susannah Thompson, festival producer who co-found the event with her husband. “Anybody who knows anything about bluegrass music knows how big of a deal that is.”
But Sam Bush, a Grammy Award winner and world-renowned mandolin player commonly referred to as the “Father of Newgrass” is not the only great musician to perform at the fifth annual UllrGrass Music & Beer Festival. He joins a diverse lineup of bluegrass, newgrass, funk and jamband artists.
UllrGrass, named for the Norse God of Winter, is a three-day festival that takes place Jan. 25-27 in downtown Golden. Much of the festival will be outdoors at Parfet Park, but the event also features evening shows to take place in the newly renovated Buffalo Rose Ballroom.
Highlights of this year’s UllrGrass Music & Beer Festival include the musical performances from about 25 different artists, a beer festival on Saturday with more than 25 breweries and cideries to provide samples, and a family day on Sunday, featuring a performance by Virtuosity Dance Center and many other children’s activities.
In general, Colorado crowds tend to be a welcoming and enthusiastic audience, said Chris Thompson, co-founder of UllrGrass and the singer/guitarist for Coral Creek.
“And Golden’s no different,” he said.
But while Chris Thompson says Goldenites come out and support local music every weekend, “UllrGrass is the time that we can pull in those national acts for our local communities.”
The Sam Bush Band is headlining the event, but the lineup also includes FREIYA: Women of Bluegrass; Sugar & the Mint, the June 2017 winners of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Contest; up-and-comers Waydown Wanderers; Bowregard, the band that won its spot on the UllrGrass stage this year as winners of last year’s UllrGrass Band Contest; and Golden’s own Thunder & Rain and Coral Creek.
Tim Carbone, violinist for the jamband Railroad Earth, will be attending UllrGrass as a musician-at-large.
“Colorado has a great music scene,” he said, adding that as a musician and professional record producer, he makes his way to Colorado at least a dozen times a year. “I love what I do (and) the Front Range is a great place to be able to work in.”
This will be the second year for Carbone to attend UllrGrass as a musician-at-large. He expects he may sit in with Coral Creek and maybe the Sam Bush band, he said.
Anyone who hasn’t experienced UllrGrass certainly should, Carbone said.
“It’s a really nice get-together,” he said, “and there’s always cool shenanigans going on.”
Another not-to-miss performance is this year’s UllrGrass Allstars. It will be led by Leftover Salmon’s Drew Emmitt on mandolin, and he will be joined by Yonder Mountain String Band’s Adam Aijala on guitar; RapidGrass’ Coleman Smith on fiddle; Andy Thorn on banjo and Greg Garrison on bass, both of Leftover Salmon.
The UllrGrass Allstars band is unique in that the musicians come together only for this one performance, Susannah Thompson said.
UllrGrass has a special kind of playfulness to it, she said. It’s combining the Norse god of winter with the love of community, music and craft beer, she added. In addition, it is 100 percent volunteer-run and as a nonprofit event, a portion of the proceeds benefit the Kids Music Project by Coral Creek, which provides music and performance education to children in Colorado.
“The magic of UllrGrass is gathering our community together, outdoors, to celebrate in beautiful Golden,” Thompson said. “Those are the types of things you can only experience at UllrGrass. And those tend to be some of the most magical moments.”
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