Coming Attractions

WinterWonderGrass Tahoe Returns With a Flurry of Amazing Music

Palisades, Tahoe
April 5 – 7
Buy Tickets

Top photo of Infamous Stringdusters by Tobin Voggesser
All other photos by Paul Piazza

The 8th Annual WinterWonderGrass Tahoe will take place on the weekend of April 5 – 7 at Palisades, Tahoe. The bluegrass and roots music festival features the backdrop of the beautiful Sierra Nevadas and offers festival attendees a wide variety of activities and pursuits. And of course, lots and lots of incredible music- the feature that has been its key trademark for nearly a decade.

This unique festival offers a lot of options. For snow lovers, there is festival adjacent skiing, snowboarding amidst a total of 270 trails and 42 lifts. This proximity is perfect for festival attendees since the event doesn’t commence until the early afternoon. For beer lovers, there is the big attraction of an impressively vast free beer and cider tasting, which take place from 2 -5PM in the massive tents that surround the areas opposite the stage. And naturally, there is the ambience of being in a gorgeous mountain resort setting throughout the entire weekend.

Andy Frasco

On the main stage this year, there are many impressive acts.  The headliners include fast rising stars Sierra Ferrell and Paul Cauthen along with established and always excellent acts The Devil Makes Three and the Infamous Stringdustrers. Some newer festival favorites include Andy Frasco and the U.N., The Kitchen Dwellers, and Sierra Hull. There is also Mighty Poplar, a bluegrass supergroup featuring Noam Pikelny and Chris Eldridge of the Punch Brothers and Greg Garrison of Leftover Salmon and Andrew Marlin of Watchhouse. There is also the The WinterWonderWomen, a collective  composed of Bridget Law of Tierro Band/Elephant Revival, Emma Rose from Sound of Honey, Megan Letts of Mama Magnolia, Lindsay Lou from the Lindsay Lou Band, AJ Lee from AJ Lee and Blue Summit, as well Michelle Pietrafitta.

While the festival is centered on many styles of bluegrass, there are always a sampling of other tasty flavors  of music are represented. Frasco and his band bring a blend of rock and funk and outrageous antics and humor. Meanwhile,  Diggin’ Dirt are pure James Brown inspired funk. Boot Juice also brings a smorgasbord of sounds that veers from Americana to rock’n’roll to the musical table.

Kyle Ledson and Mai Lin Heirendt of Broken Compass Bluegrass

In between the main stage sets, there are three separate “tweener” sets that happen simultaneously inside of the beer tasting tents. These are musical performances that happen in between the larger acts playing on the main stage and generally run for 30 – 45 minutes. Since this is going on simultaneously in three different tents, one has the choice of digging in and enjoying one band, or wandering briefly into each tent to take a sampling as they play. It’s a very unique and energizing experience and a great opportunity to check out new bands.

Broken Compass Bluegrass

The bands that play the smaller stages in the tent sets are always intriguing and often herald the arrival of newcomers who will eventually be showcased on the main stage. Some of the tent acts this year include Caltucky, Cast Iron, and Pickin’ on the Dead. There is also a fast rising, youthful Northern California quartet called Broken Compass Bluegrass, who will make their first appearance at the festival.

In recent times, Broken Compass Bluegrass have become a mainstay in the Northern California Bluegrass community. Kyle Ledson, who is amazing on the mandolin, guitar and vocals in the group, is looking forward to the band playing a few different sets per day over a two day period during the event. “I have been going to this festival every year since 2017 when I was still in high school,” said Ledson, who is now 22. “The most exciting thing for me is the lineup. They always knock it out of the park. I am excited to see Sierra Ferrell, Mighty Poplar and a lot of people I look up to are going to be there.”

Devil Makes 3

It’s like a hometown gig for Ledson, who lives in Chico now, but spent some time growing up in Incline Village before relocating to Grass Valley. Recently, Broken Compass Bluegrass performed during the Road to Winter Wondergrass concert series with a gig at North Shore’s infamous Crystal Bay Club Crown Room. “It was such a great time. It was the biggest venue we have headlined. It was great to see it fill up and have all these great fans there.” The band gave away some free tickets to WinterWonderGrass during the well-attended Crystal Bay show.

Broken Compass Bluegrass,  are currently working on a new record of original tracks, which is being produced by Ledson. He studied at Chico State as a Recording Arts major. The record was tracked in Nevada City at Ancient Waves Studio. Ledson has been recording since he was 13, when he made his first solo record at the very same studio(he has two solo recordings). That solo record by young Ledson featured an only slightly older musician named Molly Tuttle, whom Ledson had befriended at the celebrated Father’s Day Bluegrass Festival that takes place in Grass Valley each Father’s Day weekend. He also befriended another young picker named A.J. Lee at the same festival. Both Tuttle and Lee were featured at last year’s WinterWonderGrass and both have seen great success, with Tuttle emerging as a national artist with two Grammies under her belt.“I feel that the California bluegrass scene is super unique and myself and my bandmates have had a shared experience of growing up at that Father’s Day festival. Just seeing all of the different generations coming up and being a part of it is really cool.”

Kyle Ledson and Mei Lin Heirendt of Broken Compass Bluegrass

As WinterWonderGrass nears, the band is excited for their opportunity to play the event and the chance it gives them to play in front of new potential fans. “We are really excited about playing WinterWonderGrass, because that is hopefully going to introduce us to a lot of new people.” And it’s a pretty likely bet that Broken Compass Bluegrass will eventually make it to the main stage at this festival in the near future.