Written by Tom Hellauer
Photos by John-Ryan Lockman and Tobin Voggesser (cover photo courtesy of WinterWonderGrass)
In between ski laps, festival goers and artists alike will be taking over Squaw Valley, California for a three day WinterWonderGrass stop featuring The Infamous Stringdusters, The Devil Makes Three and two performances from Billy Strings as headliners. From March 27th to 29th, the 2020 WWG tour comes to the cozy Squaw Valley ski resort, just Northwest of Lake Tahoe in the second stop of three mountain town bluegrass gatherings.
Now in its sixth year of coming to Squaw Valley, WWG has curated an eclectic array of bluegrass artists from the more punk-influenced Billy Strings to the jam oriented WinterWonderWomen. The latter, helped formed by Bridget Law, previously the fiddle player of Elephant Revival, invites various accomplished female artists to jam in a collaborative setting, ensuring no two sets are the same.
Each day’s music starts around 2 p.m. and officially ends around 10 p.m, although the Grass After Dark series keeps live music going through the night at nearby local breweries and other venues. Even though they are not included in the price of GA tickets, the Grass After Dark series showcases artists in more intimate environments for relatively cheap prices. In addition to the almost thirty artists slated to perform over the weekend, the festival also prides itself on its atmosphere, beer selection and sustainability commitments, to name a few.
Many attendees will want to hit the mountain in the mornings, with stages at the base of some of Northern California’s best skiing and snowboarding in the Squaw Valley resort. If the area’s warm weather continues, nearby climbing and hiking spots will prove good morning activities as well.
Lodging is available at the ski resort, in nearby towns, in assorted rental houses and more. Unfortunately, many of the area’s gorgeous campgrounds don’t open until April or May. Still, the winter scenery gives WWG its different vibe. “It’s very unique just because there’s not much in the way of bluegrass festivals at that time of year,” Infamous Stringdusters member Chris Pandolfi told Freeskier.
On tap will be a variety of local and other craft beers. From 2 to 5 p.m. each day, the festival partners with local brewers to give attendees free tastings. Each attendee will also get a refillable, stainless steel WWG mug to cut down on single use plastics and refill with beers.
Small towns, Tahoe City and Truckee, are within a short driving distance and have a bit more to offer in the restaurant, bar and store departments.
The combination of amazing artists, mountain scenery, winter sports, food and drink, and much more make WWG a must see festival for those in the area or those interested in those spaces. If you’re looking to keep the fun going before or after the festival, Lake Tahoe and Reno have a smorgasbord of music venues, hikes, breweries, casinos, ski resorts and others. The first WWG stop comes to Steamboat this weekend, before making their way out to Lake Tahoe and then Vermont in April.