Head for the Hills at Wildfest
If You Go …
What: Wildfest, presented by Wilderness Workshop
When: 1-11 p.m. on Saturday
Where: The Other Side Ranch, 5459 E. Sopris Creek Road, Old Snowmass
How much: $30 advance; $35 day-of; free for kids 12 and younger
Tickets and more info: http://www.wildernessworkshop.org
Wildfest Schedule of Events
2:45 – 3:45 p.m.: Sunny Morehouse and Rev. William Brown
4 – 5:30 p.m.: The Leonard Curry Trio
6 – 8 p.m.: Jes Grew
8:30 – 10 p.m.: Head for the Hills
10:15 – 11 p.m.: Dance of the Sacred Fire
1:30 – 2:30 p.m.: Wilderness Yoga w/ Lucy Lou
2:30 – 3:30 p.m.: Ethical Foraging w/ Paul Huttenhower
3:45 – 4:45 p.m.: Paleo Primitive Foraging Skills w/ Caribou Club executive chef Miles Angelo
5 – 6 p.m.: Humans and Nature: How Do We Co-exist? w/ Kevin Wright and Wilderness Workshop staff
3 – 7 p.m.: Hoop Core instruction and decorating w/ Betty Hoops
1 – 7 p.m.: Kids’ activities at the Kids Zone
1 – 8 p.m.: Communal mural painting w/ Fred “Lightning Heart” Haberlein
In the formative years of the popular bluegrass band Head for the Hills at Colorado State University, its members would go on outdoor excursions around Jefferson County, camping and jamming together. Heading into the woods was more or less out of necessity for the budding band.
“We were literally in a dorm room, and you just can’t make that much noise,” bassist Matt Loewen told The Aspen Times on a tour stop here.
So it’s perhaps fitting that Head for the Hills, a dozen years removed from its formation, is coming to Old Snowmass this weekend to play an outdoor festival organized by the public lands advocacy nonprofit Wilderness Workshop. The band headlines Wildfest on Saturday at The Other Side Ranch in Old Snowmass.
The four members met as freshmen at Colorado State in 2003, coming from diverse musical backgrounds in punk, jazz and classical. They learned the bluegrass repertoire together and slowly congealed as a bluegrass act. In the years since, they’ve become one of the top live picking bands in the high country — heirs to Colorado bluegrass outfits like Hot Rize, Yonder Mountain String Band and Leftover Salmon.
Still based out of Fort Collins, they’ve become fixtures at events like the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and they won a nationwide following on the festival circuit and through their four albums (most recently, 2013’s “Blue Ruin”).
“It’s been such a hotbed for [bluegrass] music for so long,” fiddle player Joe Lessard said of Colorado’s music scene. “It’s at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds. Cultivating a scene around this is kind of easy to do. There’s no reason to move to Los Angeles. You don’t have to uproot yourself.”
The band has a progressive take on traditional string music. They’re been known to work creative covers of pop songs into their live sets. As bluegrass edict dictates, they play without a drummer. But they defy convention by playing without a banjo. The limitations of leaving out a banjo and a drum has shaped their sound.
“In Head for the Hills, we don’t feel too many restrictions,” said Loewen. “Whether you’re arranging a song of someone else’s or writing an original song, there’s a challenge: How do you fill in the rhythm of drums and electric bass? How do you get that piece right, without those instruments, with bass and mandolin? As a rhythm player, that’s a challenge; that’s different and cool.”
Head for the Hills will headline a four-act musical lineup Saturday at Wildfest, the latest iteration of day-long outdoor festivals organized by the nonprofit Wilderness Workshop. (The Workshop hosted a Wildfest in 2012 at the Flying Dog Ranch in Woody Creek and a Maroon Bells Bash last year, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act and the Bells’ wilderness designation, which brought more than 2,000 attendees to the base of Aspen Highlands).
Also performing are local bands Jes Grew, The Leonard Curry Trio and Sunny Morehouse and Rev. William Brown.
Off-stage, the festival is hosting the celebrated Glenwood Springs-based muralist Fred “Lightning Heart” Haberlein. The artist’s outdoor murals and sculptures pepper communities through the Roaring Fork Valley, Colorado and the Southwest. Haberlein will lead a communal creation of a new mural at the festival, to be displayed in public places around the valley after Wildfest.
The nonprofit’s advocacy for protecting public lands also has a place at the festival, with workshops on wilderness yoga, foraging in the wild and co-existing with wildlife.
Additional activities include hula hooping and decorating with local Guinness World Record-holder Betty Hoops, fire-dancing with the Dance of the Sacred Fire & Friends and a drum circle.
Local food and beers will be available, along with elixirs and food prepared by former Cloud 9 Alpine Bistro chef Hayden Dudley and the Humble Plum mobile kitchen.
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